Friday, December 23, 2011

My Blog Post Syndicated on BlogHer!

I am very excited that my post ranting about those who get upset when people say "Happy Holidays" was selected to be syndicated by BlogHer, the largest community for women who blog! Check it out! Here is the link to my blog post.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Since When Did Saying "Happy Holidays" Become a Bad Thing?

It's the most wonderful time of the year! The holiday season is upon us, and apparently, we can count on two things - a showdown in Congress and whining about the supposed war on Christmas. It's ironic, isn't it? Everywhere you look, there are Christmas decorations. Christmas music is being piped into every store and restaurant. The Christmas season has stretched longer and longer, with Christmas merchandise now appearing in stores even before Halloween. And yet, somehow, this isn't enough emphasis on Christmas for some. Consider the following examples:
  • Recently, my sister heard someone respond to someone wishing them "Happy Holidays" by saying "We say 'Merry Christmas', not that holiday crap." 
  • My friend saw someone wearing a button saying, "It's OK to say Merry Christmas". 
  • I saw a bumper sticker saying "Keep Christ in Christmas", 
  • And of course, Fox News is having their annual whine-fest about something somewhere being referred to as "holiday" instead of "Christmas". In this case, a tree in Rhode Island.
Give me a break.

First of all, wishing someone "Happy Holidays" is at its essence an expression of good will. It is a positive thing to say, a kind gesture. Since when is it OK to respond to a kind expression with rudeness and rejection? Isn't Christmas also about opening our hearts? Peace and goodwill to all? Please practice what you preach.

Second of all, can we all just acknowledge and accept that NOT EVERYONE CELEBRATES CHRISTMAS! I know, this is shocking, but yes, there are Jewish people and Buddhist people and all sorts of other cultures and religions that do not celebrate it. Do you know for sure that the person you are speaking to celebrates Christmas? If not, then why would you wish them Merry Christmas? Saying "Happy Holidays" is a polite way of wishing someone well without making assumptions. The holidays can include Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Years Day, and yes, Christmas.

Adding to the irony of people complaining about using the word "holiday" instead of "Christmas", did you know that the word "holiday" evolved from the words "holy day"? It just demonstrates the ignorance of these people that they are actually opposed to someone wishing them a happy holy day, and believe that it contradicts and does not encompass Christmas.

As for the sentiment of saying "Keep the Christ in Christmas", I can understand the frustration of seeing what to some is a very special, religious holiday turn into a spectacle of commercialism on steroids. I can agree that the original meaning of the holiday has been lost amongst the shopping and decorations frenzy. But you really can't have it both ways. If Christmas goes back to being a purely religious holiday, and you remove all of the secular trappings (and the people who celebrate it in a secular way), then that would correspondingly reduce the number of people celebrating it and the attention paid to in the retail world. Christmas is big business. It's called Black Friday, because that's when many retailers go in to the black, i.e. become profitable for the year. Remove that financial motivation, sorry to say, and there will be less "Merry Christmas" everywhere, not more. 

What makes Christmas special to me is not the presents and shopping but spending time with family. My husband and I enjoy passing along holiday traditions to our children and making our own. Part of that holiday tradition for me is also celebrating Hanukkah. See, I have one side of the family that is Catholic, and one side that is Jewish. That is why I am sensitive to the fact that not everyone celebrates Christmas. I always buy cards that say "Seasons Greetings" or "Happy Holidays" so that I can send them to everyone on my list. I see this as being considerate and thoughtful. Not for one second is it meant to minimize Christmas for those who celebrate it.

For those who are getting so worked up about it, I challenge you to search within yourself to understand why it is so important to you. Do you need such constant validation of your faith? Are you really that intolerant of those that are not like you? Let me assure you that Christmas is alive and well. Look around you. Notice all of the green and red, the mistletoe, the Santas at the mall. Enjoy the reindeer on people's lawns, the lights on houses, the poinsettias, the holly. Hear the Christmas music played in the malls, and watch the Christmas shows and movies on TV. Read the cards you receive in the mail, the email greetings from friends, and the heartwarming stories in the newspaper of gifts donated to those who can't afford to buy their own. Christmas is truly a beloved holiday. It will be OK.

So from the bottom of my heart, I wish everyone the happiest of holidays.