Ever since I can remember, there were three traditional Winter greetings, “Merry Christmas”, “Happy Holidays”, and “Season’s Greetings”. I’ve never liked saying anything other than “Merry Christmas” ever since I was little, and only recently have I given much thought to why that is.
First, I never professed to be politically correct. In fact, I’ve always been the exact opposite- and I never really cared very much if people disliked that fact. That’s not to say I like to be intentionally offensive; indeed, I do try to at least be respectful of other people’s ideals, even when I disagree. I also expect the same in return from others. It boils down to a line I read once in an old policy document for a computer network I once participated in… it goes like this:
Thou shalt not be too easily annoyed
Pretty simple, right? Maybe they should teach that in elementary school! Let’s talk about this from a Christmas point of view:
Essentially, my saying “Merry Christmas” is a reflection of what I celebrate. Whether you celebrate it in a religious sense as the birthday of Jesus, or as a more secular day to gather and celebrate with your family and friends is beside the point. I’m not telling you “Merry Christmas and you have to go to church!” or “Merry Christmas, don’t forget to call your mom!”, but rather as a wish that whatever you do, its a time to celebrate. Of course, I understand that there are people that don’t celebrate Christmas, and that’s ok too. I’m not “offended” that someone chooses not to celebrate Christmas, and if I am aware of that, I’ll keep it in mind in future greetings. I have, for example, a number of Jewish friends that get a “Happy Haunaka” and that’s perfectly fine.
The important point that I’m trying to make is that my celebrating Christmas does not diminish anyone else’s choice of holiday, nor does, for example, a Jewish family celebrating Haunaka diminish my celebrating Christmas.
Why, then, does it sometimes seem like there is a “war” on against Christmas? Sometimes it seems like certain parts of society almost want to deny that Christmas even exists! Recently on the way to work, I listened to a story on the radio about a town in Rhode Island that put lights on a tree in town. Of course, they were very careful not to call it a “Christmas” tree, but rather a “Holiday” tree. It did lead to a lively discussion on that particular talk radio program. It should be noted that this idea is not new, in fact, I can recall being in second grade, and asking the teacher why we didn’t have any Christmas lights in the classroom one day in December. Her response: “They use too much electricity”. Even then, I recognized that excuse as rather flimsy, since even at a young age I understood a little bit about the workings of electricity, and knew that that little string of tiny lights could not use nearly as much power as the photocopier, the mimeograph, or even the humungous coffee pot in the teachers’ lounge.
One interesting (or disturbing) development is that the “war” against Christmas applies only to Christmas. Public celebrations of other religious winter holidays seem to be not only accepted, but actually encouraged! For example, in December 2010, a not only was a giant menorah erected in Boston Common, but the Governer of Massachusetts and the Mayor of Boston attended its lighting! Also, the US Postal Service released a stamp in 2001 celebrating two Muslim holidays, Eid-Al-Fitr, and Eid-Al-Adha. While the Eid hoidays are not “Christmas” type holidays (they commemerate the end of Ramadan and Hajj respectively), they do illustrate the theory that Christmas (and Christian holidays in general) are bad and to be suppressed while non-Christian religious based holidays are to be given preferred status.
It all boils down to the concept of political correctness. Why do some people despise Christmas so much that they even insist on calling a tree with lights on it a “holiday tree”? Did they have a bad experience as a child? Maybe Santa’s beard came off when they went to see him at the mall. Maybe they got coal in their stocking. Who knows… maybe their grandma got run over by a reindeer! All I can say is that the people who insist on being “politically correct” regarding the holiday season seems to be little more than a verbal bully, who insists on making those around them feel as little joy as possible.
Here’s my “official” take on the situation: First, as the title of this post says, I say “Merry Christmas” – and I’m not going to change that. If you celebrate any other winter based holiday – or even nothing at all – I’m cool with that. Let me know if you celebrate Haunaka, the Winter Solstice, or even Festivus – and I’ll keep it in mind when I do greet you. Of course, I will respect your choice of holiday celebrations, and I expect the same from you.
Rick the Geek