Another holiday season has come and gone, but even a few days into this new year I can’t help but be haunted by something that’s been bugging me for the past few months: The War on Christmas. Basically, some extremely religious people are convinced that the world is out to end the Christmas holiday. The media has gone off the deep end with this notion, they want to force everyone to celebrate Christmas, they want to ignore other holidays that fall around the same time as Christmas simply because, well, they aren’t Christmas, and frankly it’s getting out of control.
Keep Christ in Christmas is an argument I’ve seen blown out of proportion. Christmas is a holiday that’s been so far removed from it’s original intent that I don’t believe most of the people who celebrate it see it as a religious holiday. The majority of people I know celebrate Christmas the way I do. They spend time with friends and family who they don’t normally get a chance to see, they eat ample amounts of junk food and drink their weight in alcohol; they decorate their dwellings with red and green stuff, Santa pictures, lights, tinsel, mistletoe, trees that may or may not have been once living, and then they wrap presents they bought in colorful paper to place under said tree to open on Christmas morning. Nowhere in my world did Christ ever fit into my holiday, it was all about fun, family and presents. I liked the feeling of bringing joy to the ones I love, the warmth of their company and the fun times we always shared. I believed in Santa until I was 13 years old, I love Christmas time more than anyone possibly could, but there’s one thing I love more, and that’s courtesy.
The first time I said Merry Christmas to a friend of mine in elementary school who happened to be Jewish, I was mortified. I blurted it out in a fit of extreme childhood joy, a flood of excitement at the thought of Santa leaving holiday loot under the tree for my sisters and I whirling through my tiny self indulged brain. I remember the look on her face, slightly annoyed but still understanding, as she said “I don’t celebrate Christmas. My family celebrates Hanukkah.” My face turned red and I apologized profusely. She accepted, and we went about our day making penguins out of construction paper in art class before winter break. That day the expression Happy Holidays started to make sense to me. Before then, I just thought that was another way of saying Merry Christmas, without questioning why. There’s a huge debate going on now about the technicality of when it’s appropriate to say Merry Christmas and when It’s appropriate to say Happy Holidays. I saw many people (I’m looking at you, Bill O’Reilly of Fox News) arguing that Hanukkah ended early this year, and there were no major holidays between the end of Hanukkah and Christmas, so the correct term would be Merry Christmas. I’d like to chime in here with some cold hard truth. Not every single person in this country who doesn’t celebrate Hanukkah celebrates Christmas. There are still going to be people out there who, for their own personal reasons, don’t celebrate Christmas. Arguments like this lack tact, they’re rude and oppressive.
The reason you should always use the expression Happy Holidays is courtesy. It’s rude to say Merry Christmas to someone who doesn’t appreciate or celebrate it. You say Happy Holidays because it’s all inclusive, everyone celebrates a holiday towards the end of the year, even if it’s only New Years. It’s a way of expressing kindness and warmth to someone else, no matter what holiday they may choose to celebrate. It’s classy, it’s tasteful, it’s humble, it’s nice, and it’s respectable. Nobody is going to force you to give tidings of a holiday you don’t choose to celebrate, so why would it be appropriate to shove your beliefs in someone else’s face? Be reasonable. Of course, I don’t think it’s totally reasonable that someone would seriously and truly believe there’s a War on Christmas, but they’re out there, and they’re totally unreasonable.
The last place I lived was a house of young people who were always coming and going. The living room was full of treasures left behind by former roommates who had since left, and there I found one of the most glorious treasures I’ve ever laid my eyes on. There was an electric Santa who danced and played saxophone, wore sunglasses, and just so happened to be black. Every time I looked at that little Santa on top of the TV, it made me think of Christmas, and that brought me joy. I never thought it was weird that the little Santa was black, in fact I always thought he was way more cool that way. If you haven’t heard by now, then you should probably watch this clip (http://www.youtube.com/watch?
The only war being fought on here is the war on common courtesy. I think we should all take a few minutes to hear what Aisha Harris has to say about Santa Penguin. I think that the difference between the terms Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas is the level of maturity used when speaking. I think that the Christmas holiday season should be something everyone who wants to celebrate it can get behind and thoroughly enjoy. Nobody is trying to ruin or end Christmas, and the only suggestions I’ve heard all season were ones to make it better. If you want to celebrate, then come on and rock around that Christmas tree. If you don’t celebrate it, then I hope you can ignore Fox News from Black Friday until the middle of February, because if not you’re probably in for a thorough annoyance.