Thursday, December 15, 2011

Thursday Thought: Happy Holidays

Pardon me while I jump on my soap box in today's Thursday Thought. If you are one of those people that have gotten your panties in a twist over someone telling you "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas" then you may want to close this post. Or, better yet, keep reading.

I'm sticking a jump in here. You'll thank me later.

"Happy Holidays!" This phrase has become a topic of recent discussion in my house. My family is resolutely Christian, and there is nothing wrong with that. This is not an attack on Christians or Christianity or Christmas (the War on Christmas? Really?). I would never attack someone for their religious preference nor for their skin color, sexual orientation, personal philosophy, or any other descriptive context. I have friends and family of many faiths. Christians, Jews, Pagans, Atheists, Buddhists, Muslims, and many others.

However, I have been hearing (and seeing) a lot about Happy Holidays vs. Merry Christmas lately. The thought that occurs to me every time is this: With so much crap going on in this world, an argument for semantics is headline news? I mean, come on. Really?

My family discussion led me to research the phrase last night and I am appalled at the nonsense I have found. So a little history lesson first. Though the phrase has only in the past decade become commonly used, it probably originated with Irving Berlin's "Happy Holidays" from the early 1940's. It gained momentum in the 70's but really picked up in the more recent past. For advocates, "Happy Holidays" is a phrase used as a means of inclusive season greetings for people of all faiths. Critics argue it is a deliberate attempt to subvert Christianity in favor of secularism (ie. doing what Thomas Jefferson wrote about in 1802 and exactly as Everson vs. Board of Education ruled in 1947). You can probably tell which side of this argument I am on.

A middle ground of sorts in the Christian community has grown recently. Those intent on the Christian message of Christmas (the birth of Jesus, not the commercialization) have used "Happy Holidays" and "Seasons Greetings" in place of "Merry Christmas" in order to avoid a conflict of holiday associations. St. Nicholas Day falls on December 6th, Epiphany on January 6th. This group use this phrase for all of the holiday season, except on Christmas Day, December 25th, when they say "Merry Christmas" only.

This is my opinion and then I will get off my soapbox.

It is very egocentric of people to assume that everyone should honor their religion with their vernacular. I despise people that push their religion on others when an invitation to learn and discuss something new could open up real dialogue. I say "Happy Holidays" unless or until I know the specific phrase an individual prefers. Not everyone celebrates Christmas, even here in the United States. Shocking, I know. I know people of other faiths that are just as guilty of this egotism, so I'm not throwing Christians under the bus. It irks me when anyone pushes their views on others. Yes, you have a right to have an opinion/belief/way of life. You even have a right to share it with others. But I have the right to disagree with you. I also have the right to tell you I disagree and why. As adults, we should have the maturity to discuss our differences without defaulting to pejoratives and threats. I often think that I am surrounded by toddlers that need to put on their big kid britches and get over themselves.

Okay, I am off my soapbox. I hope I didn't piss you off too badly. Feel free to disagree (or agree) with me in the comment section below, but as a personal favor, explain why you feel that way. I honestly want to know what others think. I promise I will not resort to name-calling and hair-pulling. :)

Love is love, no matter the back story. <3 DS

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