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Monday, December 07, 2015

We say happy holidays

Monday, December 07, 2015 By

Grumpy, Angry and Jerky are not names of reindeer, people.
AUGUSTA, GA. - I see you, bumper sticker. I see you everywhere I go. That little rectangle with one simple sentence that seems to adorn every big, white SUV that cuts me off in traffic.

"We say Merry Christmas."

Well, that's super great. I say "Happy Holidays."

No, really. That's great. You can say whatever you like in this big ol' melting pot of a nation. It doesn't bother me one whit. But, apparently, I bother the heck out of other people with my "Happy Holidays." Even without a bumper sticker.

"Happy holidays!" I chirped at someone recently, as we ended a friendly conversation.

She frowned and waved her hand in a short, chopping motion.

"We say merry Christmas," she said, a thin, tight smile on her lips.

"Cool," I said. "We say happy holidays. Have a great one!"
And I waved cheerfully and walked away.

When did this become a conflict?
It's not the first time I've had this exchange in the last couple of years. And I'm not fool enough to debate someone with an aggressive agenda. There's no winner in that. I actually have no agenda whatsoever in this. So I walk away from that contrived conflict.

I'm off to have some happy holidays.

How can I walk away from that conversation without a care in the world? Because I'm completely not bothered that we say different things. Because that's not even a thing.

Do you hear what I am saying? It. Is. Not. Even. A. Thing.
It's not an issue that I say happy holidays.
It's not an issue that you say merry Christmas.

It's no big deal if someone wishes me a happy Hanukkah.
It would be lovely to receive wishes for a happy Bodhi Day.

I don't celebrate Hanukkah or Bodhi Day or Kwanzaa or Yalda or Ashura. But I would hope that someone who does celebrate one of those holidays would like my time during those holidays to be happy.

Let's all be friends.
I grew up in Georgia, in a Christian family (word up, Presbytery!), headed by two parents who were both from the South and from Christian families. We attended church regularly.

And we said happy holidays.


Because it's accurate. Because it's inclusive.

Back then - back in those "old days" some folks are always wanting us to get back to - people started saying "Happy Holidays" around Thanksgiving. I always thought of it as a shorthand way of saying "Happy Thanksgiving, merry Christmas, and happy New Year - and if you don't celebrate any of those, just happy whatever you do celebrate." It was nice. It was friendly. It was respectful. It was a way of including your friends and neighbors in the spirit of the holidays without judging them for what they do or don't believe.

I don't know at what point being nice, friendly, respectful and inclusive stopped being part of our national values. No, really, at what point did our nation collectively decide that inviting all of our friends and neighbors to share in peace on earth and goodwill towards men is just irritating?

Who has time for this nonsense?

Part of our country's founding principles is the freedom to worship in whatever faith we choose. And I love this country. So it doesn't bother me when someone else says something different during the holiday season.

No one is telling you that you can't say merry Christmas. If they are, you can walk away and ignore it, because that is ridiculous. But, likewise, please don't try to tell me - or bully me - into saying something that is inauthentic to me. Say merry Christmas to me. That's nice. Merry Christmas to you, too.

If I am initiating the parting script, I usually say happy holidays - unless I already know a person's preference, in which case I might remember to say whatever is particular to their faith, but I might not. Because I don't spend a whole lot of time worrying about offending someone by saying that I hope their winter holiday is a nice one.

Some people need a little "spirit of the season" all year long.