Has anyone else noticed that the greeting "Merry Christmas" seems to be making a come-back this year? I feel like I'm hearing it again, seeing it more. Honestly, I think that's good because I think in a mature society, there is plenty of room of Christmas among all the other holidays, and I think it's a bit silly when two people who celebrate Christmas say, "Happy Holidays" because they don't want to offend anyone. I think it's sillier still to call a Christmas tree a "Holiday tree." Hello! Do we really think that someone prone to be offended at Christmas is going to somehow not be bothered because we have a Christmas symbol but use the term "holiday?" Or, do we think we'll trick them--fool them so they don't notice? ("Hah! We sure showed that ACLU. We called it a holiday tree. Didn't suspect a thing.")
So, I think it's nice that it's coming back--I think it's a positive sign of greater honesty and tolerance, both of which are necessary for a civil society. I also like Christmas and despise wishy-washy, mealy-mouthed, watered-down euphemisms.
However, I'm also slightly apprehensive about it because I feel like it's often said with kind of an edge--sort of a jab at politically correct folks. The way I hear it said sometimes reminds me of someone who is just itching for a fight. In other words, the greeting used to describe the birthday of the Prince of Peace has gone from being a warm greeting and wish for a festive and enjoyable holiday to being a counter-salvo in the culture wars.
I understand the impulse behind this. I really do. When I'm told I can't do something, the contrarian in me is prone to want to do it louder, bigger, and more. I also understand that people with traditional values feel that they are being shoved away from the table and that diversity and multi-culturalism are apparently exclusive of some faiths and ethnicities. I get it. And, beginning January 1, we can all start arguing about this again.
But can we pause for a moment? For those of us who celebrate Christmas, can we just relax a bit? Do we really want the most wonderful time of the year get turned into a battlefield? Where's the fun in that? If we succeed in saying "Merry Christmas" but mean, "Hah, take that!" are we really honoring Christmas? Is this what Jesus had in mind? Whether or not we "started" this, do we want to escalate it? I'm not talking about rights and lawsuits and so on here. I'm talking about our attitudes and demeanors. Think about the Whos, for whom Christmas came "all the same" after the Grinch had tried to ruin it for them.
For those that don't celebrate, is it really that much of a problem if some of us do? If you are told Merry Christmas--have you been truly and seriously harmed? When you think of all the bad things that happen in this world, does the cheery, but misinformed wish of a passer-by really hurt you? I have some Jewish friends. I emailed them to wish them a Happy Hanukkah. They wished me Merry Christmas. Neither of us seems to have been hurt by that exchange.
When I lived in NYC, I frequently got out of school for holidays I didn't celebrate and I never felt it was a problem. If you don't believe in Christmas, but lots of other people do, can you not let them have their fun? I think the Superbowl is kind of silly and a big waste. But the fact that some people watch it doesn't harm me. The fact that some people believe in religious beings or ideas that I don't is not really a problem either. Because I don't believe in them.
Every year for a month or so, we have historically stopped bickering and been a little nicer, a little kinder. People give money to charities and they think about the poor and unfortunate. Grudges are set aside and families get together.
Can we all just ratchet things down a bit? Let everyone celebrate whatever and however they choose?
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