Tuesday, December 20, 2011

It also bothers me when "After the Holidays" sales start on December 26th.

There's something about having the phrase 'Happy Holidays' relayed to me at every store check-out that bothers me. I could never put my finger on why, until this year.

I celebrate the Christmas that remembers the birth of Jesus, who I believe to be God and man joined in flesh.

But that isn't why 'Happy Holidays' bothers me. I don't expect a stranger to see me and say, "You look like a Christian. Enjoy remembering the birth of Jesus!"

'Happy Holidays' bothers me because it has become a neutral paint in our culture, a grey-area greeting. Jewish? Buddhist? Christian? Atheist? 'Happy Holidays' makes us all feel equally non-unique.

But the thing is, there is no grey area at this time of the year. Either you're celebrating a very specific holiday, or you're not. Most people do. And whatever it is, it has a name, traditions, cultural ties and it means something special to us.

Some people don't celebrate a specific holiday. But it doesn't make them a mean person, so they may choose to say "Happy Holidays" when they wish someone well. And that is the only time when that phrase is used correctly.

So why does everyone else have to use a seasonal greeting that doesn't represent their beliefs? Because we as a society have become so afraid of offending someone with a "Happy Hanukkah," "Merry Christmas," or "Happy Kwanzaa," that we've changed our language. We use generic words at a very personal time of the year so that no one gets upset at our difference in beliefs.


(Image courtesy of PostSecret)

I don't know about anyone else, but nothing magical happens to me in December that makes me forget that not everyone shares my beliefs.

You and I are different. It's very unlikely that our beliefs are identical. And that's okay.

I know some of you can wish someone else a heart-felt "Happy Holidays." And if that's you, then by all means, keep on doing what you're doing. But if you celebrate Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Christmas or something else, start wishing people that. At best, you'll spark a great conversation with someone different from yourself. At worst, you'll upset someone. And if the latter happens, that's okay. Odds are that if someone gets angry because you didn't wish them the right holiday, they already make their lives tougher than it is.

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