December 18, 2013

Oops, I Said it Again

"Happy Holidays".

Twice, today, I think I said it.

Want to know why?  I can assure you, it's not because I'm fighting some 'war on Christmas' or because I'm cooking up some nefarious plot. It's not because I have an agenda.  It's not even because I'm a Democrat.

It's because there are multiple holidays in a very short period of time; not for nothing, Christmas music starts now on the radio in October or early November, so pretty easily we can string together Thanksgiving and Hanukkah and Christmas and Festivus and Kwanzaa and New Years and 'Little Christmas' into one season (called the Shopping Season), and do a 'cover-all' greeting, can't we, without starting World War III?

Honestly, I don't even give it much thought, whether to say "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays". Sometimes I even dare to say "have a nice holiday" without specifying which one, leaving it up to the recipient of the greeting to figure it out. But I don't understand why people think I must wish someone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year separately, each a week apart, or crammed together:
GoodtoseeyouhaveaMerryChristmasandaHappyNewYear.  
Seems kind of silly, doesn't it? 

Now, let's be clear, I may say "Happy Holidays" but
  • I put up Christmas decorations, and Christmas trees, not holiday decorations and trees 
  • I go Christmas shopping for gifts, and 'holiday shopping' if I'm getting a bunch of extra groceries
  • I mail Christmas cards not holiday cards
  • I give and receive Christmas presents, not holiday presents 
  • And on Christmas Eve, not holiday Eve, I leave a plate of cookies for Santa and something for the reindeer.
All of those things are fun and seasonal and pretty and traditional and it's wonderful to share them with friends and family, to celebrate memories from days past, and to create new ones going forward.  But to me, none of them are religions activities, even though they are thoroughly 'Christmas' activities. Because I'm not religious, and because there's something particularly unreligious about extreme retail therapy outcomes all wrapped up and shoved under a tree.

And yet, even though I do all of those Christmas-y things, if I see you walking down the street, or at the office, or out at a party, I might offer an all-inclusive "Happy Holidays", instead of "Merry Christmas", and I hope you take it as it's intended.

Because it is not offensive, unless you want to perpetuate an artificial war on Christmas. It's not offensive, unless you have an agenda. It's not offensive, unless you want it to be. It's not offensive, unless you're one of the people who believes that only your beliefs matter, that regardless of what anyone else actually believes, they need to believe and act as you believe and act. 

That's the kind of thinking that gets a Salvation bell-ringer punched by a righteously indignant WalMart bargain hunter, folks. 

Everyone take a deep breath on this, OK?  And oh -- Happy Holidays!