I am taking a break from blogging about my Rwanda experience to share something that is rather timely – while also giving me the chance to try my hand at satire.
At this very joyous time of year where celebrations and good cheer abound, we have concocted many ways to express our wishes for a pleasant holiday to one another. The traditionalist will say Merry or Happy Christmas, while others will acknowledge Hanukkah. And then we have those that are entrenched in the more secular forms of well-wishing with simply ‘Happy Holidays’ or ‘Seasons Greetings’. (Based on my experience, this December secularity in mostly a U.S. centric thing.) I imagine, church and state separation and/or exercising the right not to acknowledge the tenants of any religion are behind these intentions. Let’s get on the same page about what we are talking about though. Christmas is the recognition of the birth of a historical figure of some measurable significance and Hanukkah is the commemoration of the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt. Both are celebrated this time of year. These are the reasons “the holidays” came into existence. Let me be clear – I wholeheartedly support the right of all to believe in or not believe in whatever one wants. I have no desire to convert anyone.
In both Christianity and Judaism, this time of year has very deep meaning. For those not in these two camps and claim a breach of civil liberty and point to political correctness as a valid argument that the more secular “Happy Holidays” or “Seasons Greetings” are more appropriate, may I respectfully request that you cease and desist. You are not only a party crasher, but also a rude one. You don’t even acknowledge the host, guest of honor, or party planner. You just show up and start drinking the egg-nog.
As an alternative, if you really want a festive gift-giving holiday, I have an idea – create your own somewhere else on the calendar, have it mean something, and give it a real name. Let’s look look at some options:
- January has New Year’s and is too close to Christmas
- February has Valentine’s Day
- March has St. Patrick’s Day
- April looks available (save my birthday)
- May has Memorial Day
- June looks like an option
- July has Independence day (again, this is a U.S. remedy)
- August is another possibility
- September has Labor Day
- October has Halloween
- November has Thanksgiving
Find one that works well and have at it. Feel free to use the gifts under tree idea or the eight candles (nine if you count the shamash) – they work well for us. I know Hallmark and American Greetings would just love the new new market opportunity. And retailers would have another day a few weeks prior to open their doors at midnight for the rash of bargain hunters. That leads to expanded advertising – oh the possibilities go on and on. Heck, you might even put the economy back on track.
My point is simply this, if you wish to get caught up in the joys of a festive time of year, please have the decency to recognize why this time of year exists and how it came to be. Say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Hanukkah”. Otherwise your place is on the sidelines and when you wish to exchange pleasantries, simply say, “Hello” or “Have a nice day”. If you wish me a “Happy Holiday”, I will ask you to clarify the Holiday to which you are referring.
Your thoughts and comments are always welcome.
Thank you for reading. Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!
I am aware of Kwanzaa’s inception in 1966-1967. This is an example of proactively establishing one’s own alternative – though this is honoring a culture and a heritage rather than a historical event. December is getting a little crowded now, so others may refer to my list above of suggested available months. And, my message is geared more to those who just jump on the holiday band wagon and deny the reason the band wagon was built.