Merry Holidays?

Every December the snow laden ballads of love start to fill the airwaves, retail stores decorate with red and green, and Starbuck’s announces it’s peppermint flavored drinks. Indeed, it is that magical time of year again and unless you’re a hermit, the season to celebrate and spend is once again ubiquitous.

Lots of controversies and debates come up with this time but one seemingly mundane topic is worth talking about. How should we wish people these happy sentiments to each other? A very common theme I have observed are people who are angry that many companies and individuals choose to say “happy holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” People in this case feel that in choosing to use the more inclusive version one is erasing the acknowledgment of Christmas. Fortunately that is not the case, it is simply an attempt to recognize the diversity of cultures that we live within each other. Yes, while the majority of Americans celebrate Christmas there are also many others who celebrate other holidays in this time of year such as Hanukah or Kwanzaa. There is a wonderful altruistic purpose in using the more vague phrase making sure everyone can be included in the merriment. This is also an especially useful set of words to use when wishing good cheer to strangers when you have no idea what their religious beliefs are or their holiday plans are.

Sometimes there is confusion with what to do when someone wishes you the wrong holiday. In the case of strangers, I don’t see why anyone should be angry if they wish you a merry Christmas when you don’t celebrate it. This stranger is basically saying that they hope you have a good time this month and wish the best for you. There is some frustration with said stranger assuming things about you but in this case, your interactions with them are probably limited so there is no honest chance for them to find out more about you. They had no intention of offending you, just wanting to pass on a nice expression in a brief exchange. Now if someone who knows you says it, there could be a chance there are malicious intentions. They could possibly be trying to impose their beliefs on you. There is also the possibility that they just want to include you in the festive activities they are a part of. In this case, it’s worth talking to that person first before any conclusions are made.

Now I challenge others to be more selfless, and for their loved ones to go out their way to wish them a whatever they celebrate even if you don’t. I have always gladly wished people the holiday they celebrate while I don’t because for my friends I only hope for the best in whatever their endeavors may be. In the spirit of the seasons let’s take a moment to not think about us for a terrifying moment and think about someone else. Perhaps this can also be a good opportunity to participate in different celebrations to see what other people do at this time of the year. It may even be fun, you know, eating food and partying. I know it sounds awful to do but chances are you’ll enjoy yourself while learning something new. When someone wishes you anything, just say thank you because that was nice of them to do.

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