I realize this is a touchy topic.
I realize I’m trying to get more readers, not alienate the ones I already have.
However, this comes up every single holiday season (yes, I said holiday season) and I feel like I want to address it.
I really don’t understand why people are becoming so resistant to saying “Happy Holidays” to strangers, instead of “Merry Christmas.”
No sooner do the Thanksgiving dishes get washed and put away than people begin putting on their “Christmas Armor,” preparing for the battle that, they alone, seem to want to fight.
Message boards across the net light up with topics like “Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas?” and tempers begin to rise.
Then the annual “Prepare yourselves, Christians…they (oh, the evil “they”) are trying, once again, to rip the Christ out of Christmas!”
People in stores yell “Merry Christmas” to each other in tones that, on the surface, sound happy and bright, but with an undertone of anger and challenge and you can almost hear the implied “Damn it” following their “well” wishes.
Why the fuss?
What does it cost you to say “Happy Holidays” to someone you don’t know?
Not one thing.
I am increasingly concerned by the egocentric view more and more people seem to have of the world.
It’s not as though anyone is asking Americans not to say “Happy Thanksgiving” to each other.
No one is taking issue with “Happy Memorial Day!”
Because when you live in the United States, you expect to be celebrating American holidays.
Just like if you lived in France, you’d expect to celebrate Bastille Day.
These are holidays that you can reasonably expect everyone in the country is celebrating.
Christmas is not.
It’s a religious holiday and in a nation that was founded by people seeking religious freedom, it makes sense to be inclusive with our religious holiday greetings, rather than exclusive.
One of my favorite quotes comes from the Dalai Lama.
He said, “My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.”
Shouldn’t that be all of our religion?
To those who feel that being inclusive somehow takes away from their own celebration of Christmas, I can’t help but wonder what is behind that fear.
I keep hearing about “the attack on Christianity in America.”
I keep reading how public schools have shunned the Pledge of Allegiance and those that still say it have removed “Under God” from the words.
Because I teach in a public school and every single morning we stand and say the Pledge…the words “Under God” still intact, and in my broad network of educator friends that stretches across the country, they all do it in their schools, too.
I had a friend write on Facebook the other night that she was thrilled to finally get to go to an actual “Christmas” concert and followed up with “I LOVE Catholic school.”
Yes…Catholic school would be the absolutely appropriate place for a Christmas concert.
But why would you ever expect a public school, which educates students of all faiths, to not hold a concert that was inclusive of all of their holiday celebrations?
My Catholic children have participated in “Holiday” concerts their entire school career.
They know the principles of Kwanzaa (which is not a religious holiday, but a December celebration that many of our local families celebrate), understand the story of the festival of lights, can speak some Hebrew, play the Dreidel game like champs, and still manage to maintain their Christianity.
I’ve seen the poster that says “Dear God, Why do you allow terrible thing to happen to schools? God’s Response: Because you’ve taken me out of the schools” more times than I care to think about in the past week and it makes me sick.
The separation of church and state isn’t what is wrong with this country.
What’s wrong with this country is a culture where people believe that they are superior to anyone who is different, and those who are different do not deserve to have their feelings, experiences, or beliefs validated.
Do I think the whole idea of a “Holiday Tree” in the White House is a silly idea?
You wouldn’t have a “Holiday Menorah” as it is a symbol that is specific to the story and celebration of Hannukah.
The Christmas tree isn’t such a symbol (it’s a pagan symbol that, like so many other religious symbols, was co-opted by the Church, but that’s another story) however, it is clearly a Christmas symbol.
I’d be on board with the Obamas having a tree in their private apartments and some other type of inclusive holiday symbol on display to represent the nation (because, no matter how many times people say we are a Christian nation, we are a nation of many faiths) but I don’t know what that symbol might be.
And now I’ve digressed.
My point is, saying “Happy Holidays” doesn’t make you any less Christian.
In fact, I think it makes you more so.
Love thy neighbor, anyone?
So, this is a very long way of explaining why I say “Happy Holidays” and why our holiday cards said “Peace, Love and Joy.”
If I know you celebrate Christmas, you’ll get a “Merry Christmas!” from me.
If I know you celebrate Hannukah, you can be sure I’ll greet you with a “Happy Hannukah!”
If you celebrate any other holiday, I will greet you with a greeting appropriate to your celebration.
However, if I don’t know what your religion, beliefs, or background, I’ll smile and say “Happy Holidays!”
Because I think everyone’s traditions are important and it doesn’t cost me a thing to acknowledge that everyone I meet doesn’t necessarily celebrate the way that I do.