It's not just about the changeable, community update sign in the Windstone community that says "Happy Holidays," said Bill Reesor.
It's about everything.
The progressives and secularism, Reesor believes, are rooting out traditional American values. This American president he doesn't like. The 1960s Hugo Black case and the perversion of the separation of church and state Reesor believes came out of it.
It's about losing his America, and being kicked out of his own holiday.
And this sign was just the tipping point.
It's just a simple covered changeable sign, black letters on a white field, on the main drive through the upscale East Brainerd community where Reesor lives. On Wednesday, the sign announced the Christmas decorating contest winners - the homes at Whisper Way, Windstone Drive and Lazy Circles Drive.
And above that, the sign, despite Reesor's vehement protest, still greeted passersby with the greeting he hates: "Happy Holidays!"
Reesor saw the "Happy Holidays!" message last weekend after coming back from a cruise. And he's railed about it since.
Reesor told the Windstone Residents Association if they didn't change the message to "Merry Christmas" he would protest and picket, even if it means standing out in the rain on Christmas Eve.
"We're losing God in our country, and it makes me sad," Reesor said as he and about six people picketed Wednesday. "I'm not being antagonistic."
The tension between some people's cherished beliefs and others' nod to multiculturalism has played out around the country this year. Tennessee lawmakers and conservatives wanted heads to roll at the University of Tennessee after its campus diversity office posted a list of suggested guidelines for "holiday" rather than Christmas parties.
Reesor said the Windstone Residents Association dismissed him and his complaint. And Wednesday, the "Happy Holidays!" message remained.
Jim Nelson, president of the Windstone homeowners association, didn't want to talk about the sign that he said "has Bill Reesor so worked up." Instead, he offered a prepared statement, which called into question the validity of Reesor's argument and motives.
"Windstone is a wonderful inclusive community and our message of Happy Holidays is for all our residents," the statement said. "Demanding that we change 'Happy Holidays', which includes several different holidays during this time of year, would seem to miss the whole 'Peace on Earth, Goodwill towards Men' message."
Wednesday afternoon, many drivers passing by the protest along Ooltewah-Ringgold Road honked their horns. And just as many Windstone residents coming home asked what the fuss was about.
Many had never paid attention to the "Happy Holidays" sign.
"I've never noticed it," said one Windstone resident, interested in the hubbub. When she learned of Reesor's protest, she had another thought: "Are you kidding me?"
As Wednesday afternoon passed, Reesor's roadside protest picked up a little steam. Charles Wysong, a local fundamentalist, activist pastor known for protesting around the city, showed up.
And a handful of Reesor's fellow Windstone residents came out to support him, and Christmas.
"This has to do with Christ and Christmas," Jan Frazier said.
And with fighting the perceived - ironically, said the protesters - exclusion of Christians from celebrating Christmas for what it is, all in the name of being inclusive to everybody else.
"The people you're offending are the very people whose holiday this represents," Reesor said.
So no, he won't give it a rest until "Happy Holidays" is changed, at least in his corner of the world.
And he'll be out on the side of Ooltewah-Ringgold Road again today, Christmas Eve no less, to make a point.
"I mean, how ridiculous is it going to get in order to eliminate God from America's roots?" he said. "This was a bridge too far."
Contact staff writer Alex Green at email@example.com or 423-757-6480.