Friday, December 17, 2004

Merry Christmas! Say It Again: Merry Christmas! NOT Happy Holidays!


This is not a "holiday scene!"

As December has moved along toward Christmas I have noticed a societal trend that I intend to fight: "Happy Holidays."

Have you noticed too? When you say "Merry Christmas" in some public setting people seem a little taken aback. Sometimes they even respond, "Yes, Happy Holidays."

Bah, humbug.

Look: I have many Jewish colleagues. During the Jewish high holidays I enjoy saying to them, "Good yontif!(holiday)" This never fails to draw a delighted grin.

I'm just the same way. I love hearing my Jewish friends say "Merry Christmas!" and "Happy Easter!" to me. I love telling them "Good Pesach!" at Passover time. It's fun to say "Happy Hanukah!"

But this is not just about Christians and Jews. It's really about religious people and secularists, with a lot of political correctness thrown in. It's bad enough that my two sons, when they were in public elementary schools, had an annual "Holiday Program," in which only the kids could perform only songs like "Frosty the Snowman" and "Winter Wonderland." (The kids also sand a draydl song, which I could never figure out. Isn't a draydl a top-like toy with Hebrew letters standing for "a great miracle happened here?" That sounds suspiciously, well, religious to me. How did that get past the secular police?)

My daughter goes to a school sponsored by a church. What a relief it has been to go the the annual Christmas program and hear Christmas carols, complete with angels and nativity scene. No, I don't think such overtly religious symbols belong in public schools. But would it be so awful for the kids to sing "Silent Night" or "We Wish You a Merry Christmas?" (There's that word again!)

It's this kind of thinking that causes cities like Bellevue, Washington to call the Christmas tree in city hall a "giving tree." Yep, they do. And even that is too much for some people. Read about that here.

You'd think everyone had a Christmas phobia. "Well," they might say, "go ahead and celebrate Christmas. Just don't mention the word in public!"

Along those lines, a blog called "Drink This" posts this helpful chart:

It is Christmas time. It is not "holiday time." So I am going to be a bit of a curmudgeon about all this. As Christmas approaches, my wish and greeting will be "Merry Christmas." After Christmas, as the year end approaches, it will be "Happy New Year!" And if I happen to encounter someone I know who celebrates Kwanzaa, I'll wish them "Happy Kwanzaa!" as well.

And at my house tomorrow night we're having a party. It's going to be a good old-fashioned red and green-bedecked party of the type that would inspire Norman Rockwell. Hint: It's not going to be a holiday party. It will be a Christmas party. As people come and go, I'll be wishing them Merry Christmas.

James Lileks agrees with me, and he's a lot funnier about it than I am being right now. Read Lileks here.

Ho, ho, ho.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOL, someone who finds it offensive to be wished Happy Holidays. What kind of terrible land we must live in. Of course you should wish those who attend your party a very hearty "Merry Christmas", but to insinuate that those who seek to express a common thought rather than a personal thought in public settings are being somehow excessively PC reminds me of a certain Shakespeare line about the amount of protest being asserted. At the House of Blues the stage curtain says something like "unity through diversity", kind of a cool notion and one I believe that has made this nation great. The thought that taking care to wish people a good holiday season without imposing or presuming what that holiday is a good thing and while I tend to enjoy each of these celebrations I'm not sure what your point is in complaining about people not specifying the exact holiday they speak of. Are you somehow offended if someone wishes you Happy Holidays? You celebrate Christmas, why wouldn't you just take a comment like that to be the equivalent of "Merry Christmas"? In fact, I'll wish you one right now. Happy Holidays Hedgehog, relax and enjoy them while you can. 

Posted by Anonymous

Saturday, December 18, 2004 6:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous: The line is "methinks thou dost protect too much," and I fear it is you who is doing that. You need to re-charge your sense of humor for the holidays (and that's not just Christmas). And read Lileks' piece. He's a better writer than I am. 

Posted by The Hedgehog

Saturday, December 18, 2004 7:26:00 AM  

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