Monday, December 08, 2008

'Twas the Night Before [The Holidays]

At one time or another you've probably seen someone rant about people saying "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas". Well, get ready to see it again. But this may be more even-handed than you're used to, because I have two hands, and two is an even number.

I understand what stores are trying to do at this time of year. There are other religiously derived celebrations in December aside from Christmas, and so if you want to maximize your consumer appeal, you try to include everyone. I can accept that. And I can accept an office party being called a "Holiday Party" or saying "Happy Holidays" to someone you don't know too well. (On the other hand, I think it would be ridiculous for anyone to feel shame for accidentally wishing someone a Merry Christmas. Some people act as if this is the same thing as walking up to a Jewish guy and doing a Nazi salute.)

But the real problem I have is when people take things that are obviously Christmas-related and substitute the word "Holiday" in there. If you call a Christmas tree a Holiday tree, you are delusional. Sure, it may have nothing to do with Jesus, but it does have to do with Christmas, one way or another. What the heck else is it? Stop lying. It's just silly. Would you call A Christmas Story a "holiday" movie? Who does that help?

Anything that celebrates Jesus or Santa Claus in December is a Christmas thing and the word "Christmas" should never be removed from it. And no one should feel afraid or guilty about celebrating Christmas as much as they want. Sure, those who celebrate other holidays might feel left out, but what do you expect? That's what country you're in. Christmas is deeply ingrained in American (and much of European) culture, both for Christians and many non-Christians. The great thing is that you're free to celebrate whatever you want to celebrate. But for that to work, you have to accept the possibility that you'll be outnumbered.

Let's not be babies about this, people. Everyone's responsible for their own holiday cheer. Celebrate the season in whatever way feels right to you (as long as it doesn't involve murder) and let the rest work itself out. Incidentally, this is also good advice for those who feel that Christmas "just isn't doing it for you" anymore.

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