Sunday , September 25 2022
“Happy Holidays” covers everything from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day, and it is said not to insult people but rather to honor their individuality and respect the dignity of their respective faiths.

In Defense of ‘Happy Holidays’

holi 1I don’t know if people are more thin-skinned these days, but apparently they are, judging by the reaction to minutiae such Miley Cyrus’s behavior, Alec Baldwin’s anger at the paparazzi, and this guy from Duck Dynasty (I knew nothing about him or his show until this whole thing erupted). Throw in Geraldo Rivera, Kim Kardashian, Amanda Bynes, and a partridge in a pear tree, and you have a whole Christmas stocking filled with stuff to keep you ranting all day.

If you have the time and inclination, so be it; but, as John Lennon wrote in his beautiful song, “And so it is Christmas, and what have you done?” If you want it to be that you spent the year worrying about things such as described above, good luck to you. Three people in my family passed away this year, and there are wars and terrorism and the threat of natural disasters to think about. There’s the economy and the so-called Obamacare (both looking better lately, thankfully), and there are people in need of food and drink all over the world. How you choose to view that world outside your window is, of course, up to you.

Which gets me to this nearly insane argument over whether or not to say “Happy Holidays.” You may have heard recent stories such as the one where a woman was assaulted for not saying “Merry Christmas.” Then there was one about the woman who got fired because she refused to say “Happy Holidays.” Believe it or not there are too many of these tales to even keep track of at this point.

The problem is that you have incendiary guys like FOX News talking heads Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly banging the drum about not saying “Merry Christmas,” and this gets all the worst elements in human nature riled up even more. While real news is out there and needs to be reported, they are wasting their air time complaining about something that seems to be inconsequential at best, but since it has become an issue gaining attention it needs to be addressed.

I overheard a confrontation in my local Starbucks yesterday that boggled my mind. The barista handed a guy his tall Pike and added, “Happy Holidays!” The guy snapped back, “I prefer Merry Christmas, pal!” He then walked over to his friends and started ranting. “We have to stand our ground and take it back. They need to say ‘Merry Christmas’ or else.”

Now, I started thinking this guy was going to get violent, but instead he stormed out the door followed by his posse of disgruntled reindeer. I got my grande cappuccino and, since I frequent the place, gave the barista a tip and said, “Happy Holidays.” He smiled and said, “To you too.”

I walked out into the beautiful morning shaking my head. I am a Christian and have absolutely no idea why “Happy Holidays” offends anyone. I use it myself when I am in situations in which I have no idea of the person’s religious orientation (which is 90% of the time). “Happy Holidays” covers everything from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day, and it is said not to insult people but rather to honor their individuality and respect the dignity of their respective faiths.

When I think about it, I use “Merry Christmas” in situations where I am certain that I am in the company of fellow Christians. Obviously, leaving Mass and coming out of the church, I would be saying it. Picking up my kids from school (Catholic), I would wish the teachers and other parents it. But in a place like Starbucks, or in the post office, or the department store, it would be inappropriate for me to wish the other person “Merry Christmas” and therefore I use “Happy Holidays.”

Still it has become a bigger issue, a sort of us-versus-them mentality, and I just don’t get it. Why does anyone believe that he or she has the right to impose a way of thinking or beliefs on others? Yes, I know that in the long history of atrocities committed in the name of various faiths terrible things have happened in the name of gods. We cannot ignore that, but we can recognize that now, in 2013, we should know better and be better than this.

I use “Merry Christmas” with family and friends and enjoy doing so; however, I use “Happy Holidays” in almost every other arena. I don’t find it offensive, and I really cannot fathom why anyone else does, but people are entitled to their opinions. The thing is that when we start to make our opinions an imposition on others, or we threaten them in some way, we are in no way in the spirit of anything resembling a “holiday” spirit. These people become Christmas bullies, and that has nothing to do with the child born in Bethlehem or even that jolly old elf in the red suit.

holi 2So, whether you celebrate Christmas, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, Malkha, Chalica, Pancha Ganapti, Festivus, or nothing at all, I wish you peace, love, and happiness this season. I hope everyone will do the same and then the season will indeed be bright.

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About Victor Lana

Victor Lana's stories, articles, and poems have been published in literary magazines and online. His books 'A Death in Prague' (2002), 'Move' (2003), 'The Savage Quiet September Sun: A Collection of 9/11 Stories' (2005), and 'Like a Passing Shadow' (2009) are available in print, online, and as e-books. 'Heartbeat and Other Poems,' 'If the Fates Allow: New York Christmas Stories,' 'Garden of Ghosts,' and 'Flashes in the Pan' are available exclusively on Amazon. His newest books 'The Stranger from the Sea' and 'Love in the Time of the Coronavirus' are available as e-books and in print. After winning the National Arts Club Award for Poetry while attending Queens College, he concentrated on writing mostly fiction and non-fiction prose until the recent publication of his new book of poetry, 'Heartbeat and Other Poems' (now available on Amazon). He has worked as a faculty advisor to school literary magazines and enjoys the creative process as a writer, editor, and collaborator. He has been with 'Blogcritics Magazine' since July 2005 and has written many articles on a variety of topics; previously co-head sports editor, he now is a Culture and Society and Flash Ficition editor. Having traveled extensively, Victor has visited six continents and intends to get to Antarctica someday where he figures a few ideas for new stories await him.

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