The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

It’s that time again… sigh.  It’s not even Halloween and it’s already starting.  I’m not talking about the early Christmas displays in the stores, or the TV commercials urging us to buy, buy, buy… I’m talking about the silly, pointless, ongoing dispute about what words we are supposed to use to wish someone well during the holiday season.  The ongoing battle between “Happy Holidays” and “Merry Christmas.” 

I feel silly even writing about it (again), but I’m taking a stand on how I feel about this issue, because I know by Christmas, Facebook and everywhere will be deluged with people very upset about which words people choose to be nice to one another.

Here's the way I look at it.  I have dear friends, who are wonderful people, who don't celebrate Christmas.  They may be Jehovah's Witness, or Jewish, or another belief system that doesn't observe this particular holiday, but have their own holiday traditions.  Or they may be Atheists.  Either way, wishing them a Merry Christmas would be like wishing you a happy birthday when it isn’t your birthday; it doesn't make sense.  It also assumes that everyone is a Christian, when everyone isn't.

Here's how I handle it: since most of my friends celebrate Christmas, I wish them Merry Christmas.  If they don't, I say Happy Holidays.  If I'm not sure if someone celebrates it or not, I wish them Happy Holidays out of respect for whatever their spiritual belief is.  To me it's less about political correctness than common sense and respect. 

I also have friends who are really hurting this year; maybe they just lost a precious loved one or for some other reason are going through a horrible holiday season.  They may not want to hear a cheery, "Merry Christmas!"  It may be one more reminder that this particular Christmas is really going to suck.  I don't have a big investment in saying it to everyone.  My goal is to wish others well, not prove a point.

Back in 1941, when Irving Berlin wrote the song, “Happy Holidays,” where were these outraged people?  Nobody was accusing him of anything.  People just enjoyed the happiness and cheer behind the song.  Nowadays everything is a big fight.  If someone wants to be outraged about something on Christmas, it just seems we have better things to be outraged about like, oh I don’t know, kids who go hungry on Christmas, or the fact that our troops are spending Christmas away from their families to kill other people and their children, or those who are abandoned by their loved ones and are lonely and sad on Christmas, or elderly people with no heat.

Christianity has gotten a bad rap over the years because people have forgotten what being a Christian was actually supposed to mean. I’m not even going to get into the fact that Christmas has its roots in Paganism, or the widely held and scientifically supported belief that Christ would have been born in the autumn, not in December, because most educated people know that.  I’m just talking about “Christian values.”  I had always believed that the spirit of Christ embodied tolerance, trust, caring for the sick and elderly, gentleness, and meekness.  It would not be in the spirit of Christ to demand that people use a certain phrase to avoid being considered “less than.”  Christ was a guy who hung out with thieves and prostitutes, and talked about forgiveness and not judging.  What would he think of this silly pettiness?  I personally believe that he would be mortified at this twisting of his values, and in his name, and ashamed to see people judging others based solely on semantics.  Christmas is supposed to be about love, not picking fights.

As for my friends who celebrate other religious traditions, or none at all, I am defensive of them.  This attitude insinuates that they are not as righteous and good as the people who say Merry Christmas.  Not a very “Christiany” attitude, if you ask me.  I am secure enough in my spiritual beliefs that I don’t feel a need to put others down for theirs, and don’t expect the rest of the world to conform to mine. 

And I personally don't care if someone wishes me a Merry Christmas, a Happy Holiday, or Holiday Season, a Joyous Yuletide, an Advantageous Advent, Seasons Greetings, or simply a beautiful day.  If someone takes the time to give me a kind word, I’m just grateful for the love and sentiment behind it.  I don’t assume they are a godless heathen.  Who really cares as long as we are kind to one another?

So regardless of your faith belief, what God you worship, or don’t, where you live, or what words you choose, I wish all who read this joy, peace, and love.

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Father's Day

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