Great moments in merchandising: “In hindsight, we realize we shouldn’t have changed the lyrics…”

Oh, brother.

This news broke the other day:

With Halloween now history, businesses are revving up the Christmas shopping season, and Hallmark is getting off to a rocky start.

The greetings and gift giant apologized Thursday for one of its intended-to-be-jolly creations: An ornament shaped like an ugly Christmas sweater, adorned with the words, “Don we now our FUN apparel.”

That’s an allusion to the line from “Deck the Halls”: “Don we now our gay apparel. But gay doesn’t mean what it did in the 19th century, when the carol’s words were written. And some people got upset at Hallmark’s apparent attempt to be politically correct.

“To me … ‘gay’ still means happy — joyful — I refuse to let the word [be] hijacked by the same-sex relationship community,” one Facebook commenter wrote on the company’s wall Thursday. “I will also avoid Hallmark from this point on.”

Another: “It’s extremely sad to see a company like this one scared to death that they are not politically correct and change the words to Christmas carol. Wow! Time to buy somewhere else. I don’t support fools.”

Hallmark’s reaction:   

“We’ve been surprised at the wide range of reactions expressed about the change of lyrics on this ornament, and we’re sorry to have caused so much concern,” Hallmark said in a Twitter posting on its website on Thursday.

“We never intend to offend or make political statements with our products, and in hindsight we realize we shouldn’t have changed the lyrics on the ornament,” it said.

Hallmark did not say where negative reaction to the ornament came from, but a leader of one Kansas City gay rights organization said on Friday that the company went overboard in using the word “fun” on the ornament.

“The whole thing seems silly to us,” said Mitch Levine, community ambassador of the Lesbian and Gay Community Center of Kansas City. “No one was offended by that in the song and the change was not necessary.”

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