Friday, December 13, 2013

Merry Happy Everything

So, I’m not sure this time of year is supposed to be the season of frustration venting, but I’m going to take just a second to do it, anyway.

I have to say that I’ve become completely annoyed at all the people getting up in arms over the phrase “happy holidays” or any equivalent thereof.  And, of course, by “all the people”, I mean “all the Christians”.  I don’t know that I’ve ever heard anyone rant over inequality or discrimination because no one said “Happy Ramadan to you”.  But the way I see it is this:  During this time of year, there are a lot of things being celebrated, all deeply personal and none more right than the other.  Christmas is my celebration of choice, but I’ll admit that I often opt for a more generic greeting with those I don’t know, because their choice of celebration could be different.  I don’t feel that saying “happy holidays” to someone in any way lessens my belief or cheapens my own celebration.

On the other hand, I don’t think less of people who say “Merry Christmas” to total strangers, either.  Sure, it might carry with it just the slightest layer of conceit to assume everyone believes the way you do, but I don’t think that’s the way most people intend it when they say it, and I think even most non-Christians would take it in the spirit it was intended.  Just as it wouldn’t offend me if someone were to wish me a happy Chanukah or Kwanzaa or Saturnalia.  Whatever the phrase, I’m pretty sure most folks are just trying to convey wishes for the joy and blessings of the season, and I’m thankful if someone wants to share those wishes with me in any form.

So why do so many Christians these days want to take offense if their particular greeting is not the one being used?  Why do they offer a “Merry CHRISTmas”, like they’re brandishing some sort of weapon?  Is their faith so weak that it’s threatened by a few words?  Honestly, I just don’t get it.

Here in our state, we’ve got lawmakers trying to pass a Merry Christmas bill. (They’re modeling it after a similar one passed recently in Texas, which scares me just a little that our elected officials are taking their lead from the folks down there, but that’s a whole other story.)  Anyway, they’re trying to make it legal for schools to have “traditional” displays and celebrations and teachings of the same.  Of course, traditional means Christian or Jewish, though I’m pretty sure there are seasonal celebrations that pre-date those two mainstays.  Not that Oklahoma is just a hotbed for diversity of any type, of course, religious or otherwise, so, honestly, if the schools were to celebrate only those two holidays, I’d say there’s a pretty good chance the vast majority of districts would be serving 99.8% of their population.  Or more.  But I’m not sure that’s really the point. 

I think it’s ridiculous that the legislature would want to encourage our school system to teach any sort of exclusion.  And let’s be honest; religions tend to be very exclusionary.  Most teach that their way of believing is the only right way of believing, and that to do otherwise will certainly have some sort of negative repercussion on your eternity.  I don’t think public schools are the place to teach that message.  I think educators should be the ones to ensure that kids know there are lots of things being celebrated as the year draws to a close, and that no one is wrong for celebrating the way that they do.

So, please, if I don’t wish you a merry Christmas, don’t be offended.  I’m not trying to diminish your belief in any way; I’m simply hoping that your season is a joyous one and filled with everything that you want it to be.  In other words, happy holidays.