I have a love/hate relationship with this time of year.
I love holidays. I love being with family and friends. I enjoy the general atmosphere of friendship, caring, and fun.
I absolutely hate the pseudo-religious wars over holiday greetings.
Imagine standing in line in a store. The clerk gives a generic “Happy Holidays” to a guest, who rudely responds, “No, it’s Merry Christmas! Don’t destroy my season” or something similar. Hmm. It seems to me the clerk was merely trying to wish the guest peace, love and joy, not start a fight.
There is the other side, too. Someone says, “Merry Christmas,” and the recipient of the kind wishes gets his undies in a bunch and rudely replies, “I don’t believe in that holiday, I am a (insert other belief system here).” Yikes! All the greeter was trying to do was include the listener in a time of year that the greeter enjoys and appreciates.
Really, people, we need to stop being so irritatingly sensitive. All these things are being said with a kind intent, a desire to include you in the fun, frivolity, or even serious celebration of a time of year that is important to the person giving the greeting. You should feel desired, wanted, and loved, not offended, angry or threatened. Lighten up (both sides)!
If a Muslim says to me, “Mabrook al aid,” thereby wishing me a wonderful Aid al Kebir, an event which occurred this week, I don’t need to respond that I am not a Muslim and get offended at his kind attempt to include me in a time of celebration that he finds meaningful and important. Instead, the proper response is, “Thank you.” It doesn’t actually hurt anything to return the greeting.
If a Jew wishes me a “Happy Hanukkah,” I have no reason to be offended. He is welcoming me to join in a celebration that he enjoys.
If a Christian wishes someone “Merry Christmas,” this is not automatically an invitation to convert, nor is it an attempt to insult, demean, or offend. He desires that you find pleasure from a holiday that he enjoys.
If a pagan wishes me a “Happy Yule” or a “Merry Solstice,” they are not trying to say that they are better or that I am worse, they are giving a greeting that has meaning for them and welcoming me to join them in a seasonal celebration that they enjoy.
If an atheist smiles and wishes me “Season’s Greetings,” they are not trying to be rude. It is more likely they don’t have a specific holiday that they celebrate, but they do want me to know that they consider me important and wish to share with me a hope for a joyous time of year.
Now, when someone says, “Happy Holidays,” they are not trying to offend anyone by excluding their holiday of choice. They are trying to be as inclusive as possible.
Bottom line for me: I wish the world would quit being so hyper-sensitive this time of year. If someone wishes you joy, using words you wouldn’t use or a holiday that you don’t celebrate, just say “Thank you” and move on. Please don’t do the exact opposite of their goal and cause a huge ruckus by complaining, arguing, or becoming bitter and rude. Oh, and Merry Christmas from me. 🙂