Friday, December 22, 2006

Another War on Christmas Volley

There continue to be grenades lobbed into this farcical battle that is the war on Christmas and Streak points us to a moderately genteel approach that spoofs conservative attitude toward the hijacking of "their" holiday.
When I'm not sure, or when I'm addressing a group, I say, "Happy Holidays."

I don't say this to slight Christmas, but to be polite and sensible. Wishing "Merry Christmas" to someone who doesn't celebrate Christmas is like wishing someone "Happy birthday" when his birthday is six months off --- it's not so much rude as it is weird.

At the same time, however, wishing someone "Happy Holidays" when you have good reason to believe that he celebrates Christmas is also weird.

It comes off as prissy, and, intentionally or not, it carries with it the suggestion that you, the speaker, feel "Christmas" is a word that polite people avoid.

This suggestion, in turn, feeds a fear that modern secular culture is out to remove Christ from the winter holiday season one greeting at a time, if necessary.

I get that. I happen to think the fear is baseless. Observing the Nativity remains the overwhelming reason most Americans celebrate at this time of year, and their freedom to do so is vast. But I see how "Happy Holidays" can sound like a cold dismissal of that observance.

At the same time, I see how "Merry Christmas" as a blanket greeting carries with it the suggestion to the non-Christian that those who don't celebrate Christmas are misfits; oddballs whose strange beliefs don't command even a tip of the verbal cap.
The writer of the original story also called for a balance where there isn't any regarding the usage of "Merry Christmas" and "Happy Holidays."
If there's any way to break this absurd logjam in seasonal pleasantries, it lies in each of us making a reassuring effort to use the appropriate greeting with the appropriate people.

Don't assume, but don't chicken out, either. And for goodness' sake, don't take offense when none is intended.
If Christmas really is that time of year when peace on earth and goodwill toward men ought to reign, how about we see a little bit more of that? Personally, I just wish everyone a Merry Christmas; not meaning to offend, but this is one place where I see an appeal to tradition isn't that far off base.

My family has received a plethora of Christmas cards from church members, each one with different greetings on them. Season's Greetings, Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas; some have a nativity, some a snowman, and heaven forbid, some have Santa Claus. Christmas has a lot of trappings associated with it and many, try as we might, we cannot avoid. But steps can be taken in the general direction. There are a lot of things I like about Christmastime, a lot of things I utterly despise.

But if Santa really does plan on riding this year, perhaps he could bring each of us a generous dose of humility, a moderate splash of tolerance, and a smattering of reason and common sense.


Streak said...

But if Santa really does plan on riding this year, perhaps he could bring each of us a generous dose of humility, a moderate splash of tolerance, and a smattering of reason and common sense.

Very well said.

Headmistress said...

Hi again, Tony...

I just caught up on my Rambling Prophet reading (I've been on a blogging hiatus) and wanted to say, as always, I really enjoy reading your posts--especially the Christmas ones. It's always nice to find someone who can state what I'm thinking more clearly than I can!

I've been really struggling this year to find that happy balance between "doing Christmas up right" and keeping it can be rather tricky with so much familial influence, but this year I think I'm getting the hang of not feeling so pressured and establishing our own traditions for celebrating the holiday.

Christmas blessings to you and your family!


Tony said...


As always, you are more than welcome! I'm, glad you are back to blogging again.

You have the same problem I do where Christmas is concerned...lots of small children! That makes finding the balance that much harder, if only pragmatically.

Our folks tend to make Christmas more than we want it to be as well, but their intentions are always good.

Christmas blessings to you as well!