I need to rant. (It’s great having a blog for times like these…)
This whole debate about the Christmas/Holidays terminology has gotten way out of hand.
We in North America live in a place where the majority of people are some sort of denomination of Christian. But that’s not why Christmas is so predominant everywhere. We have retail chains and companies desperately seeking to drive in dollars to thank for that. None of which, of course, has anything to do with the “real” (read: religious) meaning of Christmas. I’ve only read the New Testament briefly, but I don’t remember anything in there about Jesus telling people to go get new digital cameras on sale at Best Buy.
So sure, Christmas isn’t our holiday… but I don’t mind if someone wishes me a “Merry Christmas”. I intend to do just that actually. This year, it coincides with Chanukah, and I plan to spend Christmas Day merrily eating potato latkes and lighting a menorah with a bunch of cousins.
Speaking of Chanukah, the holiday definitely has had its importance inflated by the same artificial commercialism that took over Christmas. There’s no doubt about that. An otherwise minor holiday that had little – if anything – to do with presents has suddenly become the second most listed holiday next to Christmas in the generic greeting “Happy Holidays”… which, for some reason, has people all up in arms. Now, having worked in the retail business, I can honestly say I’ve wished many people “Happy Holidays” because it seemed odd for me to be wishing other people (many of whom were probably Jewish, given the area) a “Merry Christmas”.
That said, what’s wrong with appreciating another culture’s holiday even if you don’t celebrate it? I don’t believe in Jesus, of course, but there’s no reason why I can’t think that decorative lights are pretty, or even participate in the parties and celebrations of Christian friends. After all, none of them have a problem with eating my mom’s latkes (and raving about them… and asking me to bring them more… but I digress).
Why are we so threatened by a majority culture when it’s perfectly acceptable or even encouraged to learn about and appreciate other minority cultures? Is it because of our fear of assimilation? If so, we really need to get over it: I’m secure enough with my Jewish identity that Christmas is no more threatening than, well, the Easter Bunny. And for people who aren’t, well, being wished a “Merry Christmas” is a far cry from being converted to Christianity.
Ask most non-Christians and they won’t have a problem with being wished “Merry Christmas”. Ask most Christians and they won’t have a problem with being wished “Happy Holidays”.
But here’s the crux of it: WHO CARES???
With problems like world poverty, Iran about to get nuclear weapons, people in death camps in North Korea, earthquakes in Pakistan, Tsunamis in Asia, hurricanes in the US, and Bono thinking he’s a politician… can’t we re-examine our priorities just a little and stop obsessing over what words people choose to wish each other well?
I mean, a little perspective please: people are actually trying to be nice and friendly to one another. Silly me, I thought that was a good thing.
So whether it’s Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, New Year’s, a devil worshipping feast, the arrival of winter, the mere fact that many of us get a few precious days off from work, or simply being in a good mood, can’t we just call the whole thing off and return to spending inordinate amounts of money on stuff we don’t really need?
Done ranting now.
Update: Stephen Colbert is launching a campaign against the “Merry Christmas” crowd for trying to deny him his Happy Holy Day. Now that’s the spirit!