Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Holidays??

I live in a state where the majority of people celebrate Christmas.  Whether or not they consider themselves Christian. 

I've been wished "Merry Christmas" a handful of times over the past week, in retail type situations. People would have no idea if I was Christian or not.

And although I celebrate a secular Christmas, I always bristle in that situation.  Because I think - what if I didn't celebrate Christmas?  How do people respond who don't celebrate?  Who celebrate Hanukkah?  Or the winter solstice or Kwanzaa? Or who don't celebrate anything at all? 

I know they are just trying to be well-meaning, and have good intentions. 

I'm sure this is related somehow to the war on Christmas. 

I just don't see why "Happy Holidays" is such a threat.  It seems much more inclusive and understanding that not everyone celebrates in the same way. 

So perhaps next year I'll speak up and tell random customer service type people that I don't celebrate Christmas, but happy holidays anyway.  It seems like a lot of effort and energy - I suppose it's just recognizing privilege.

So I may speak up, or I may not.  It will depend.

Nevertheless, best wishes for a peaceful holiday, whatever you celebrate.

PS.  Hanukkah is a bigger deal where one of my sisters' lives - there is a Hanukkah mobile that drives around her neighborhood.  She's promised to send me a photo. 


Freckle Face Girl said...

I used to be more careful about saying Happy Holidays rather than Merry Christmas, until I went to the Middle East. All of the Arabs made such an effort to say Merry Christmas. Maybe it is because I love all holidays, but it doesn't bother me when people wish me well using whatever holiday they pick to say. It is just nice that they are being friendly - even it is just customer service. Hopefully, the positive reinforcement of cheer will spread beyond the New Year.

Allison said...

I guess I actually celebrate Christmas each year - even though I'm no longer Christian. I hang up the garland, give and receive presents, play Christmas music all month...

It used to make me bristle when people wished me Merry Christmas... but I ended up just shifting my perspective a bit. I think a happy holiday greeting (whether it be Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, A Blessed Solstice, Happy Kwanza, or whatever, is intended to be a friendly greeting. Unless you wear a sign on your chest (or some religious accessory) indicating your particular belief system (or lack thereof) most people have no idea what you would celebrate.... so they default to either what THEY celebrate, or to what comes out naturally.

I wished people "Merry Christmas" for so many years, and still have family members and friends who do, that I find myself using the phrase a lot. But I also use Happy Holidays... or other.

My son is currently living in Malaysia, which is a mostly Muslim country (but also with large Hindu and Buddhist population) - and "Merry Christmas" is the standard greeting there...

So my attitude is wish whatever greeting is sincere and accept return holiday wishes in that same vein.

Happy Holidays!