A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Happy Holidays (To My Mother and Her Well-Meaning Internet Friends)

Once again, we must acknowledge the holiday season, perhaps at our peril. Once again, we must acknowledge that many people believe that their cherished holiday is slowly being dismantled by the alleged “war on Christmas.” And once again, I feel compelled to either calm (or roil, depending on your point of view) the waters of controversy. 

I had hoped to lay this subject to rest last year (See War and Christmas 12/24/2011). Alas, Fox News is still being as divisive as ever and its viewership is convinced that America is getting further and further away from God because of how we celebrate Christmas today as opposed to the past. I will cite two cases.

Case One: This year my mother forwarded an e-mail, which in turn, had been forwarded from a number of her friends via the Internet. It was a series of photos of Christmas trees. Each photo is captioned with the words “This is a Christmas tree.” The tree in the first photo is tastefully decorated, and the trees in the subsequent photos are more elaborately decorated. As the decorations become more elaborate, the font in the captions gets larger and — perhaps this is my imagination — more strident. The e-mail concludes with the statement: “These are not holiday trees! These are not Hanukkah trees! THESE ARE CHRISTMAS TREES!”

Case Two: My wife, as office manager of a small manufacturing firm, answers all of the incoming phone calls directed to the office’s general mail box. At this time of year, she, like many other companies in North America, will greet the caller with some sort of phrase in keeping with the holiday season. She has chosen to use the words “Happy Holidays” in a sincere tone when she answers the phone. One of her callers responded in a tone which she described as arrogant, “IT'S MERRY CHRISTMAS!”

Okay, people, let’s settle down. Just because some members of the population choose to use words like “Happy Holidays” or “Seasons Greetings” instead of “Merry Christmas” doesn’t necessarily make them heathens intent on nuking the day of Christ’s birth. It is simply intended to acknowledge that there is more than one culture on God’s good earth, and some of these other cultures don’t believe in Christ as the savior. It is also an acknowledgement that these other cultures have their own holidays to celebrate around the same time of year. For similar reasons, many municipalities have chosen to call their pine icons in the town squares holiday trees instead of Christmas trees.

Please allow me to be the bearer bad news. Those of us who consider themselves Christians must face this fact: WE DON’T OWN DECEMBER! In fact, no one cultural or ethnic group owns this time of the winter solstice. Admittedly, this is the holiest time of year on the Christian calendar. It is the time of year when Christians make a special effort to extend the positive qualities of Christ’s teachings to everyone we meet. I truly believe in the seasonal mantra, “Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men.” Unfortunately I am not convinced that others within the Christian community want to extend these wishes to members outside of the community, i.e., non-believers and those who believe in other faiths. 
Using the word “holiday” instead of “Christmas” should not be a cause to be offended. For those who found it prudent to bite my wife’s head off when she wished them the best of the season, or who are outraged because of how trees are named, I must ask this question: Why are you so insecure about your religious beliefs? I really don’t expect an answer, because it’s a question each of us can ask and answer ourselves. Why should the use of one word bring warm thoughts and the other raise blood pressures, as long as the use of either is delivered with the sincerity of a season dedicated to bringing peace and brotherhood to the world?

Another question which only each of us can ask ourselves and answer: How would Jesus react? Would he favor the use of the word “Christmas” over the word “Holiday”? I believe each of us can answer this because each has a different viewpoint and interpretation of Christ’s work. I myself like to think that Jesus would not care if one word is used over the other so long as we respect each other and treat each other as we would like to be treated. The actions mean more than the words. Maybe I am being a bit naïve, but this is my belief.

Having said this, I find that the attitude of my wife’s caller very un-Christian-like. What happened to the humility of Christians? What happened to the concept of turning the other cheek? Why do we have get into each other’s face about our beliefs and so antagonistic about the beliefs of others? 

Okay, so if Christians want to get outraged over something, then here are a few suggestions: children are starving; millions live with injustice and social inequality; many others try to survive in countries torn apart by war, religious strife, or governmental instability. These are conditions that should provoke outrage, not a word choice. My God, if we can’t overlook and forgive a choice of words, then what hope do we as a civilization have to forgive the actions of ourselves and others?

Here’s another perspective. Last week, a young man in Connecticut reminded all of us that our priorities may be misplaced. His cruel, brutal act demonstrated that American citizens have just as much chance of getting killed by bullets as the chance of hearing the words “Happy Holidays” as a greeting. Given this choice, I would gladly, gratefully accept “Happy Holidays” and not quibble over word choice.

In the spirit of extending brotherhood, peace, and justice to all of us I will say: Merry Christmas AND Happy Holidays…as you wish.

(Thank you for reading.)


Anonymous Janey said...

I'll be the one to settle this dispute, thank you: The new all-purpose December greeting to be spoken with reverence and delight by all must be "Don we now our gay apparel!"

There! I'm sure everyone is happy with that one! Those who are not should come see me for a holiday attitude adjustment.


December 22, 2012 at 8:22 AM  
Blogger Bob said...

I like the idea of 'gay apparel'. My closet is filled with it.
And I, too, wish these so-called Christians, and FauxNews, would realize that, as Christians, maybe they have bigger fish to fry.

Happy Festivus, for the Rest Of Us.

December 22, 2012 at 8:28 AM  

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