Tuesday, January 1, 2013

On Holiday Greetings

Well, if anyone was counting, then you know my previous blog post was just a smidge shy of 500 words.  That means tonight you get a twofer!  So before I have to wait a whole year for this post to be relevant again, here are my thoughts on holiday greetings and the “war” on Christmas.  Or, you know, I could just stop here, as I’ve now hit my word quota.  But that would be teasing. And cheating. So here goes.

I work retail, specifically, in a grocery store.  That means I interact with a couple hundred customers a day.  And that means I have to navigate the minefield that is wishing someone well during the holiday season.  There are so many choices.  I could go with “Season’s Greetings!”  I could go with “Happy Holidays!”  I could go with “Merry Christmas!”  I could go with “Cool Yule!” (Okay, no I couldn’t.  I’m not awesome enough to make that happen… but someone somewhere needs to).

My greeting of choice is “Merry Christmas.”  I find “Season’s Greetings” to be somewhat hokey.  I actually like “Happy Holidays,” but find that saying it doesn’t come naturally to me.  Besides, Christmas is the holiday I celebrate, so Merry Christmas it is.  Though only for a handful of days before Christmas, not the whole month of December, because I find the fact that people drag the Christmas season backwards to Halloween obnoxious.  The rest of the month I use the generic “have a nice day.”

See the thing is, I’m always being told there’s a “war on Christmas” happening.  I’m told that if I say “Merry Christmas” I will get yelled at for not being politically correct, for not being sensitive to other cultures, for whatever.  The point is, according to nobody specific and everybody all at once, I can’t say Merry Christmas anymore.  The truth is, I have never once been treated unpleasantly for saying Merry Christmas even though the grocery store I work in is in the middle of a big enough city that I get a diversity of customers, many of whom certainly don’t celebrate Christmas.  However, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wished someone a cheery “Merry Christmas” only to be unpleasantly snarled at in return by someone saying how grateful they are that I’ve said “Merry Christmas” and how much they hate hearing “Happy Holidays” because “it’s Christmas, damnit!”  And I am so, so sad for those people.

For one thing, does it matter what words the person uses when the intent is to wish you have a happy and enjoyable day?  We’re just trying to brighten your spirits a little bit!  More importantly, while you and I might celebrate Christmas, other people don’t.  Christmas is not the only holiday in December.  I don’t think merely saying “Merry Christmas” is insensitive to other cultures, but insisting that your holiday gets primacy and other holidays don’t even get acknowledged most certainly is insensitive.  Hanukkah happens in December.  So does Kwanzaa.  So does New Year’s Eve.  Those are the biggies, of course, but some cultures make a big deal out of Boxing Day or St. Nicholas’ Day.  Some churches make a big deal out of Advent.  There’s also World Aid’s Awareness Day, International Children’s Day, Pearl Harbor Day, and National Cotton Candy Day, to name a few.  This is the first year I’ve heard about it, but apparently Festivus is a thing.  Also Saturnalia, the Roman holiday Christmas coopted in the first place, is still celebrated by some neopagans.  I’m sure there are many more.  The point is, December is a celebratory month.  Sure, Christmas is huge but you know what?  Except on December 24th and December 25th, I feel like Happy Holidays is actually the more accurate sentiment.

Maybe next year I’ll try an experiment.  I’ll still say “Merry Christmas” say from December 20th onward.  But instead of “have a nice day” the rest of the month, I’ll try to acknowledge each holiday on its day.  “Happy Hanukkah” I’ll say during Hanukkah.  “Happy Kwanzaa” I could say during Kwanzaa.  “Happy International Children’s Day” on the second Sunday in December.  “Happy Boxing Day” on December 26th.  And hey, I can really look forward to December 16th, when I can apparently say “Happy National Chocolate Covered Anything Day.”  Next year, I’m totally having a party on that day and busting out my chocolate fountain.

Much love,

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