“As Christians, we were offended,” the five told the morning news shows.

Over coffee, Joanne Brown, Linda Bennett, Judi Hanna, Laurie Kramer and Pat See, all of the Youngstown, Ohio, area — lamented Americans’ increasingly “politically correct” pressure to mumble “Happy Holidays” rather than risk offending someone by saying “Merry Christmas.” What could they do about it? They came up with the idea of billboards. Within weeks, they had raised enough money for two billboards reading, “I miss hearing you say Merry Christmas” and “Why have you stopped saying Merry Christmas?” Both were signed, “Jesus.” 

The next year, they raised enough money for four billboards. Now

they’re at it again. With donations from friends, the five paid for seven billboards around Youngstown with the messages: “I miss hearing you say Merry Christmas” and “It’s OK to say Merry Christmas” — again signed “Jesus.”

Three of the ladies and one of their billboards

“The friends, all Christians, think it’s important to send a simple but potent message with the wish of Merry Christmas,” writes Linda M. Linonis of the Youngstown News. ”They’re back in a bigger way than their initial foray. Their grassroots effort has gained momentum.”

They are delighted that they have copycats nationwide — folks with the same idea and message.

 That’s what drives the quintet, Brown explained on nationwide TV shows — that almost 150 years ago, President Ulysses S. Grant signed legislation making Dec. 25, “commonly known as Christmas Day,” an official federal holiday.

Another sign in Virginia