In the recent weeks I've received several emails about something, and I'm guessing that many of you have had similar ones in your mailboxes. It has raised some thoughts for me, and I've pondered this at length. These are things I've considered before, but this year, for whatever reason, I'm really stuck on this. So, I'm going to share my turmoil with you! Aren't I nice, sharing like this?
And first, a disclaimer: This is not a "dis" in any way, only a reason for thought and introspection.
Many people are encouraging me to say "Merry Christmas," not "Happy Holidays," as has become my habit. The thought is that it is a reminder of "the reason for the season." I understand and respect this. However, this time is also the time, the season, for Hanukkah and for Kwanza. I have friends who celebrate these holidays. All three, Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanza, are reflections of our beliefs, our faith, and reminders of the need for retrospection, introspection, and respect for ourselves and for others. As Christians, we are asked to remember to be kind to others, to call for peace on earth and good will toward others. It is in that spirit that I say "Happy Holiday." I want to give good wishes to everyone, not only on my own terms but on an ecumenical or international basis. Is that wrong? I don't think so. If I were not to say "Happy Holiday," in a universal way of greeting and extending my good wishes, I would have to say, "Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Blessed Kwanza." Same thing, but what a mouthful to utter several times a day!
Now if it meet you on the street and know you follow Christianity, I would say "Merry Christmas." Period, end of statement. If I meet my friend who is Jewish, I would greet her with "Happy Hanukkah." Simple enough. (BTW, the friend I have in mind at the moment would respond with "Merry Christmas," because she understands and thinks as I do.) To my African-American friends I usually say "Happy Kwanza." But if I don't know your faith or religious practices, I would say "Happy Holiday." That allows you to pick the holiday of importance to you. To me, it is a matter of courtesy and respect, an extension of my good will toward another with deference to that person's beliefs and way of life. To me, that is what the Christmas spirit is all about, loving others and creating a peace between us. And a bottom-line observation .... the word holiday is "holy-day," so what in this does not show respect for "your Christianity," or "her Hanukkah," or "his Kwanza"?
Most of us live in a multi-cultural society, the cities more so than where I live now. But even here, there are many cultures to consider. The words "Happy Holidays" tells everyone that I am in the spirit and allows the Apache woman to take that in as Christian or in the Native American way, whichever she follows. It allows the Jewish gentleman in town to interpret it into his own belief system. And the African American lady that I run into often will understand my intent, whether she hears it as Christmas or Kwanza. My Buddhist friend? She gets it, too.
Again, I'm not dissing anyone, but I wonder .... what is your opinion?