“It’s not ‘Happy Holidays’, it’s ‘Merry Christmas’ and I’m not afraid to say it!” That’s the refrain of countless people as the big day approaches. The one question that arises in some people’s minds is: why?
Why is it only “Merry Christmas” and not also, say, “Happy Chanukah,” “Happy Diwali,” “Good Solstice,” “Joyous Kwanza” or “Happy Holidays?” Why is one way the only way to share good wishes with someone, especially if the person is a stranger? Do some people feel that what they celebrate is the only important holiday worthy of a greeting? Do they feel as though everyone else’s customs, traditions and deeply held beliefs are simply something to be ignored or even mocked?
If so, why?
Do some people actually march through life thinking that their perspectives and celebrations are the only things that really matter, and that everyone else deserves to treated as though they are invisible?
Newsflash: Not everyone celebrates Christmas.
Some people celebrate different holidays altogether, and some people don’t celebrate at all. Why do some people choose exclusion over inclusion by insisting that “it’s not ‘Happy Holidays, it’s Merry Christmas’” and pronouncing their decision to anyone and everyone; strangers and friends alike? Why do Jewish people and others who celebrate something different have to see these (quite frankly, rude) announcements on Facebook? For those who don’t celebrate, or even those who have a spouse who doesn’t celebrate Christmas or who celebrates something else, these announcements feel like a slap in the face. It’s a slap that says “you’re not important; in fact, your culture and traditions are garbage.”
Actually, let’s forget the metaphorical slap and instead talk about the actual punch in the face a woman received for saying “Happy Holidays.” A Salvation Army bell ringer was standing outside a store doing her job when she said “Happy Holidays” to a woman passing by. The woman landed a left hook to the bell ringer’s face, saying “Do you believe in God? You’re supposed to say Merry Christmas!”
Of course, this is an extreme example, but it shows just how out of control our society has gotten when it comes to this “debate.”
A recent poll of Americans showed that the majority of people who feel that “Merry Christmas” is the only acceptable holiday greeting are generally over the age of 45 and of the Republican persuasion. Why is that, exactly?
The truth is, the attitude that “it’s Merry Christmas, it’s not Happy Holidays” hurts people’s feelings. No, really. It does. It makes people feel as though they’re being told they don’t even exist. Is that what Jesus would have wanted? Is that how he would have acted?
Our culture needs to return to the rules we learned in Kindergarten: be kind to your friends and neighbors; treat others as you would like to be treated; be respectful to everyone around you.
Knowing that it makes people feel bad and hurt when others insist on saying only “Merry Christmas” should be enough to make the ones insisting upon that exclusive phrase reconsider their decision. Therefore, if someone is Christian, say “Merry Christmas;” if someone is Jewish, say “Happy Chanukah” and so forth. If the person’s religion or chosen cultural tradition is unknown, say “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.” See? Inclusion; it’s a great thing, and it’s easy, too!
Don’t be the mean kids in high school who formed a nasty little clique and kept the uncool kids out; be the class president who was beloved by everyone because he or she made everyone feel included. Be a leader. Reach out to those who may not share your exact religion, traditions, beliefs or perspectives. Who knows? You may just learn something new.
“It’s not ‘Merry Christmas,’ it’s ‘Happy Holidays’ and I’m not afraid to say it” is for mean folks. Don’t be mean. It’s really not what Jesus would have wanted anyway.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. May everyone enjoy their cultural traditions and be prosperous, healthy and joyful in the new year.
An Editorial By: Rebecca Savastio