Sunday, December 10, 2006

Merry Christmahannukwaanzaka to you!

With the house situation still in limbo, I've distracted myself with holiday decorating. I wasn't particularly eager to do it this year, having been enjoying the relative sparseness of a staged-for-sale home.

I should mention here that if it were possible to make a living in the clutter production trade, J would be CEO of the world's largest clutter-producing corporation. We can go from "showing-perfect" to "just-ransacked" in a matter of seconds. I keep trying to come up with creative organizational strategies that will help J reduce his clutter output, but haven't been completely successful. In an effort to eliminate his sea of post-its and torn scraps of paper (covered with phone numbers, website addresses, concert dates, movies to watch, CDs to buy, random calculations, etc), I bought him a PDA. The inside cover of the PDA is now covered with post-its. You see what I'm up against.

To get back on track, it's beginning to look pretty festive at our house. Which brings me to my next point. According to this article:

Americans are ready to put "Merry Christmas" back into holiday shopping, a new poll shows.

The majority of Americans surveyed - 95% - said they were not offended by a "Merry Christmas" greeting in stores, according to a poll by Zogby International.

However, 32% of respondents said they took offense at "Happy Holidays," the religiously neutral alternative promoted over the last few years as inclusive and inoffensive.

I actually take the Zogby polls, and I happened to take this one. I was among the 95% of Americans who is not offended by having a store clerk (or anyone for that matter) wish me a "Merry Christmas." Interestingly, the poll results confirmed a general sense I was getting, which was that my saying "Happy Holidays" is actually considered offensive by quite a few people. Yes, I celebrate Christmas, in the sense that I gather with family for food and the exchanging of gifts on Christmas day. But I am not actually celebrating Christmas as in celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

In fact, for me the Winter Solstice will probably be the most spiritual day of the holiday season. Humans were celebrating during the yuletide season long before Christ was born, and it's not like I have to remind any of you where the vast majority of so-called Christmas decorations originated.

But back to the point. If you are a Christian and want to wish others a "Merry Christmas," by all means, go right ahead. By the same token, allow those of us who don't quite agree that "Jesus is the reason for the season", to wish you "Happy Holidays", without taking it as some sort of slam on Christianity. When I wish someone "Happy Holidays", it is because I sincerely hope that they will be able to spend happy times with friends and loved ones during the coming weeks, sharing in whatever traditions they choose to celebrate with each other. I fear that too many people, when they say "Merry Christmas", are really saying "Screw you, liberal heathens"...which I'm fairly sure was the real emotion behind the "tell the ACLU 'Merry Christmas'" scheme. (The ACLU has never filed any kind of anti-'Merry Christmas' lawsuit, by the way.)

So, how do I express myself this holiday season without offending? "Happy Holidays" is obviously risky, and "Happy Winter Solstice"--if the recipient even understands what that means--is just too new-agey and pagan for my taste. I think I'm going to follow J's lead and go with a good old "Happy Festivus".


Mary Beth said...

The whole business of taking offense to being told "Happy Holidays" rather than "Merry Christmas" is just another way that the uber-conservative Christians can act like everyone is discriminating against them. It's old.

This Christmas we're sending a Christmas card. It says "Merry Christmas" and we'll probably send it to our Jewish and non-Christian friends as well (in fact, Ritz, you'll get one soon). Why? Because we designed it on Ofoto and I really like it and I don't want to order one set that says "Happy Holidays" and one set that says "Merry Christmas." I'm too frickin' cheap. I'm assuming that the people who receive it who aren't celebrating Christmas per se will know us well enough to know that we have no intention of offending them.

A group of ladies at my church had a good solution last year. They wore buttons on their coats that said, "I'm Christian. It's OK to wish me Merry Christmas." It got the point across without being obnoxious.

Kat E said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kat E said...

nterestingly enough, I just dug out my cards for this year (that I bought 2 years ago--last year we did photo cards), and the majority of them do say "Merry Christmas". I have no problem sending them out to my Christian friends and family. To me, the whole holiday card thing is more about saying "hey, I know we don't talk much, but I'm thinking of you", than relaying an overt religious or anti-religious message. I look forward to receiving your card :)

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to hear that Americans are exercising their good common sense for a change. I tell people Merry Christmas but I'm not offended by Happy Holidays either. Both are just a way of wishing good cheer to people, and if someone is offended by that they've got issues. ~ Jennifer