It seems like every year there is debate around the “right” thing to say come December. Some people say it’s not politically correct to say “Merry Christmas”, and the preferred alternatives might be “happy holidays” or “season’s greetings.” Then you’ve got the Great Pumpkin wanting to obliterate “happy holidays” because it’s part of a war on Christmas. You’ve also got the folks complaining about taking the Christ out of Christmas.
I find myself shaking my head a bit and wondering why people aren’t finding more important things to worry about (of which there are plenty).
On this issue as well as others like it, I’m inclined to think that if you try to suppress the majority, you’re more likely to get resentful people than greater inclusivity. What if we were more willing to value everyone’s holidays? What if we celebrated the universally positive messages even if we don’t happy to agree with the religious ones? And here’s the thing — underneath the commercialism and totally aside from the religious part, there are universally good messages, no matter which faith’s holidays we’re talking about.
I’ve always celebrated Christmas, and both my parents and I are atheists. Sure, I consider the manger and the wise men and all of that whole shebang to be mythical rather than literal history, but I believe when it comes to any holiday people should be able to take what works for them and leave the rest.
Let’s pretend for a second that I’m more social than I actually am. Say I happened to wish someone “Merry Christmas” and they responded “Happy Hanukkah”. I would smile (remember, we’re pretending here), wish them a “Happy Hanukkah” right back, and go along on my pretend-merry way.
If I had a kid (we’re still pretending) and their school “Christmas” play got turned into a mishmash of bits and pieces from multiple different traditions and faiths, I’d say the more the merrier.
So Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Festivus, and happy anything else you might happen to be celebrating. There’s plenty of room for everybody.
Originally published at https://mentalhealthathome.org on December 9, 2019.