Well, it’s started.
It seems we can no longer have a holiday season without some proponents of one particular holiday insisting on exclusivity.
Yes, that’s right — the annual battle of “Merry Christmas” vs. “Happy Holidays” has begun.
It’s a silly battle, of course — promoted by TV hosts and social media agitators whose stock in trade is winding people up in fake outrage — but it’s real to those who take it to heart.
The first shots I heard this year were on Facebook, of course, where all the best philosophers gather to enlighten each other.
I swear I could hear the whining through written words — “It’s Merry Chriiiiiiiiiiistmas, NOT Happy Holidaaaaaays.”
Well, here’s the deal:
During December, Jews will celebrate Hanukkah, Buddists will celebrate Rohatsu, Wiccans will celebrate the solstice, Muslims will celebrate Mawlid el-Nabi, Zoroastrians will celebrate Zarathosht Diso, African-Americans will celebrate Kwanzaa, “Seinfeld” fans will celebrate Festivus and, yes, Christians will celebrate Christmas.
I’m guessing some Scandinavians still celebrate Yule, too. My wife will celebrate her birthday.
I want all those people, especially my wife, to enjoy their holidays.
I have little patience for anyone who insists that his or her holiday be placed above all others. That shows an unacceptable degree of arrogance and an equally unacceptable dismissive attitude toward our fellow men and women.
Unfortunately, those people are egged on by the above-mentioned odious TV hosts who would have them believe there’s a “war” on Christmas — that someone, somewhere, is plotting to do away with their holiday.
It’s a symptom of the division that runs deep through our world and a look at a really ugly aspect of human nature: many of us want to be offended, and we want to blame other people for that offense.
There’s nowhere to turn, these days, without useless confrontation. Pick a topic, any topic, and even those who broadly agree will find something to fight about. It can be something as trivial as sports or entertainment, or something as consequential as politics. Everybody is itching for a fight and it’s not hard to find somebody to oblige.
That’s why it’s particularly dismaying that some can’t stand down just enough to let other people enjoy their holidays. They insist on making it a battle for holiday supremacy and, by extension, confirmation that their own preferences are superior to those held by other people.
I’m calling for a rhetorical cease-fire, on this one topic and for this one month. Enjoy whatever holiday you like in whatever way you like, but leave other people alone to do the same. It’s really not that hard to do. I’ve been doing it for decades.
The easily offended have stopped reading by now. If you’re still with me, I offer you this:
Many holidays are deeply important to the people who believe in the doctrines behind them. I respect that. That includes Christmas. I’ll loudly defend the right of Christians to celebrate it.
But I’m not going to assume that everyone is in that number.
If you wish me a Merry Christmas, I will respond in kind. If you wish me a Happy Hanukkah, I’ll wish you one, as well.
If you wish me a Happy Festivus, I’ll respond with a line from the “Seinfeld” TV show — my favorite is Frank Costanza’s take on the holiday’s “airing of grievances” — “I’ve got a lot of problems with you people, and now you’re going to hear about it!”
If I initiate the greeting, though, it’ll be “Happy Holidays” because I want your holidays, whatever they are, to be happy and I’m not going to make an assumption about what holidays those might be.
Happy holidays, everyone.
Well, it’s started.