It was Saturday, December 22nd and there were three full shopping days left before Christmas. The checkout clerk at Wal-Mart seemed upset about something as she asked, “Did you get all your Christmas shopping done?”

“Oh yes,” we answered, being Jews.

It seemed like she wanted to say something more but lacked a transition, so I offered, “I still can’t believe that Thanksgiving already happened.”

“Well!” she declared. “Would you believe that they already took down the Christmas decorations in the store?”

“What?” we responded, thinking such a thing odd, given that it was still three days before Christ’s birthday.

“Look around. Do you see any Christmas decorations? I came in this morning and they were taking the last of them down. I said, ‘What are you doing?’ They told me, ‘Christmas is done.’ Done?! I said. It hasn’t come yet. Well you better believe I raised a fuss, and told my co-worker that I was going to complain. He agreed but said, ‘You think it’ll do you any good?’ Oh well.”

“What are they getting ready for?” my husband asked. “Is it St. Patrick’s Day already? Valentine’s Day?”

“Valentine’s Day,” she answered.

“Usually decorations stay up ’til at least New Year’s Day,” I said, “let alone Christmas.”

“Exactly!” she answered, glad to have found a sympathetic ear.

“That’s so utilitarian,” I continued. “One thing I can’t stand about the commercialization of Christmas is that everyone just uses God for their own seasonal enjoyment or business. Doesn’t the Bible say something about how when you start placing the dollar above God and meaning, you get in trouble?”

“It sure does!” she replied.

“I never even read the Bible, but I know that’s in there. This is just using religion, and it’s disrespectful.”

“It is a religious holiday,” she added.

“Yes it is,” I answered, adding, “Did you hear that Barbara Walters complained that she got a religious Christmas card from the White House?”

The clerk just shook her head and kept packing the bags, finally saying, “Well I’m going to wish you both a very Merry Christmas.”

We wished her the same and went on our way.

But really, Wal-Mart — to not even keep the decorations up long enough for the man’s birthday, the occasion you just made a huge profit off of, is reprehensible. This isn’t the Wal-Mart I defend. This is a Wal-Mart that’s losing touch with its customers, its employees, its founder and its own struggles.

Let’s not repeat this diss next year, Wal-Mart. Given some of the products you’ve had to defend carrying, and those you’ve defended not carrying, you are one of the final bulwarks against the godlessness that’s consumed American society and facilitated a more pious bunch to fill the void. After this Jesus-dissing display — or non-display, I should say — no wonder we’re losing Jesus to Muhammad.