It’s that time of year again, the time when my e-mail, facebook, and even my postal box is brimming with messages like “Keep the Christ in Christmas” and “Don’t say happy holidays! Say Merry Christmas!” There are two reasons this bothers me. First is that my graduate studies were in history and the “tradition” of Christian Christmas that I grew up with is not nearly as old as the holiday traditions of other cultures, but that discussion is for another blog. The second reason,the one I want to address, is simply because it makes the sender look bad, and leaves a sour taste in my mouth.
I really don’t care what anyone wishes me, as long as it is genuine, whether that wish is for Christmas or Kwanzaa. Whatever you believe this season to be about, the long and the short of it is love right? The message one sends when they choose to make a big deal over a greeting is not one of love, it is one of iggnorance and self-righteousness. It is like saying my holiday is better than your holiday, which can sometimes boil down to my god is better than your god, and frankly those discussions get us no where and ultimately drag this festive season down. I’m not saying it is better to say Happy Holidays, but I am saying if you only say Merry Christmas because you want to prove a point you are missing the meaning for the reason you said Merry Christmas to begin with.
There is something else here though, the anger over the “politically correct” statement, it seems that people have the wrong idea about this. So often I hear “Happy Holidays is just a way of pushing Christ out of our society” maybe that is not the intent at all though. As I previously stated I don’t care what someone wishes me, but I have had a wonderful experience where I felt the wishing was genuine.
Several years ago I taught art history in a private school attached to a Greek Orthadox church. In the month of December I spent the time talking about arts and crafts in different cultures, and mentioned off hand that I celebrated yuletide while my parents celebrated Christmas. The teacher of the fourth graders asked me to expound on the statement for her class and the class was full of questions. The hour was one of learning for everyone, we learned that two of the students did not celebrate Christmas, one celebrated Kwanzaa and another celebrated a yuletide similar to mine. What is most amazing is not the differences but what happened when I left the classroom, the teacher wished me a Good Yule,the first person ever to do so outside of my circle of friends. It was a moment that I felt genuine understanding and acceptance. The school children wished each other happy holidays, kwanza, and yule, depending on what each child celebrated and there was respect and love in their voices not disdain over a difference in opinion or belief. Isn’t that the REAL reason for the season?