A friend of mine from high school posted this on Facebook a couple of weeks ago: “That wraps up the election, folks. Stay tuned for the War On Christmas.”
I laughed out loud at this. Not because I am anti-Christmas (I’m far from it, as anyone who’s been to my house in December can confirm), but because it’s true: people need something to be upset about, and the yearly Happy-Holidays-versus-Merry-Christmas “debate” is as good a thing as any.
Frankly, I don’t get it. I don’t get what’s particularly offensive about saying either of these things. But then, I’m not religious (although I’ve made it a point to have at least a working knowledge of major religions), nor am I all that “politically correct.”
I’ll say this, though: in the years since this became a cultural sore spot that seemingly no one can stop picking at, I’ve never had anyone upbraid, chastise, or otherwise correct me for saying “Merry Christmas.” On the other hand, I have had my head ripped off and kicked around the block for saying “Happy Holidays.” Your mileage may vary, but this has been my experience.
To me, “Happy Holidays” is simply a LOGICAL thing to say. Because:
Thanksgiving + Hanukkah + Christmas + New Year’s Day = HOLIDAYS.
I mean, I’m not wrong here. This is a perfectly reasonable thing to say, on most days between the end of November and the first of January.
Now, if I happen to know you’re Jewish, I’ll wish you Happy Hanukkah on the appropriate days. If I happen to know you’re Christian, I’ll absolutely wish you a Merry Christmas. No problem. But the fact is that there are going to be occasions during which I’m just plain NOT going to know what someone believes or doesn’t believe. Trust me when I say I am not kowtowing to some shady “agenda” by addressing someone I don’t know with an all-encompassing (and friendly) greeting. I don’t hate freedom; I’m being polite. Like my mama taught me.
There are those who see it as emblematic of a larger issue – an erosion of values, perhaps, or the beginnings of a godless amoral state in which little red books will hang from the branches of Socialism Trees for all obedient children. I don’t see that happening. I have enough faith in the safeguards in place, and enough cynicism regarding the machinations of partisan politics, to state this with a more than reasonable degree of certainty.
I don’t think “inclusivity” is in any way, shape, or form an invitation to the Destruction Of Life As We Know It. I’m not anti-religion (so long as it’s not dictating legislation, I am generally fine with it). I don’t think we should scrub “Christmas” from the books. I even agree that “holiday tree” sounds a little, well, stupid. But I think we should make an effort to learn about our varying traditions, to stop with the sweeping generalizations and name-calling, and try – if only for a few short weeks – to bring out the best in one another, instead of assuming the worst.
It saddens me that during a season in which there are lots of pretty things to look at, things to reflect upon, and in which hot chocolate is tastier than ever, people even have the time or inclination to get ZOMG SO UPSET over a simple greeting. In this day and age, the fact that someone even bothers to acknowledge you at all is something to celebrate. If the person at the counter wishes you “Merry Christmas,” or “Happy Holidays,” do you really HAVE to correct him or her? Can’t you just say “Thank You” and complete the transaction in a way that doesn’t leave anyone upset? Have we really all become such professional victims that a greeting is looked upon as an attack?
Andy Williams sang about “Happy Holidays.” ANDY WILLIAMS. Hardly a harbinger of Sharia law:
And if you don’t get weepy at this scene – whether you believe in Baby Jesus, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or nothing at all – I pity you:
There’s so much more to celebrate than denigrate. Let’s just be nice to each other.