There, I said it. I said it out loud. I said it out loud in what my mother would describe as “mixed company”. At least that is the assumption I'm making. I mean, you can't all be Christmas-observing Christians can you? There's just got to be a Jew or maybe even a Pagan out there reading this I'm sure.
I'm not sure when exactly it happened, but somehow along the way I became deprogrammed. “Happy Holidays” replaced “Merry Christmas” in my every day vocabulary this time of year. Maybe it's because I work with the public, maybe it's because I'm older now and I recognize that there are folks of other faiths around me celebrating their own holidays. Pretty astute of me, huh? I can't say that there was a defining moment of embarrassment forever changing my holiday outlook, I have no memory of someone upset by my wishing them a Merry Christmas. It just happened. I think I became politically correct via osmosis.
Growing up it was always “Merry Christmas”. What else would you possibly say? Christmas trees were in classrooms, Santa Claus pictures, reindeer on the windows made by little children regardless of their backgrounds decorated the windows and bulletin boards. That cute Jewish boy I sat next to never brought up the fact that perhaps he might want to make a menorah or a dreidle instead. He just colored the reindeer's nose red like everyone else. I do, however, recall thinking that he had the better deal when it came to getting gifts for eight nights straight, though. I remember being a little jealous. I even remember sending a “Happy Hanukkah” his way, why wouldn't I? We were 4th graders, why question where gifts are coming from? Just so long as they come, right?
4th grade was a long time ago and I've since grown up and married another cute Jewish boy. I didn't convert to Judaism, it wasn't a requirement for me. Thank goodness, I love the boy but there was no way conversion was going to happen with this girl. I was never a practicing Christian for that matter. I wasn't raised with any religious teachings whatsoever, I just always knew in my heart that there was a God. I always thought Christmas was wonderful and my family embraced it, so that's how I was raised.
This year my hairdresser hugged me and shrieked “I'm just going to say it! Merry Christmas! No Happy Holidays, we're celebrating the birth of Jesus so there it is! I'm so sick of saying Happy Holidays”. At the time I just smiled and laughed and said “You go, girl”. The more I think about it though, the more I wonder who exactly is insulted by that phrase? A Jew mistaken for a Gentile? Someone who celebrates Kwanzaa instead of Christmas? Why would she ever feel as though she couldn't say Merry Christmas? Did someone roll their eyes with disgust and sigh out loud at her suggestion that they have a joyous holiday season? Why would somebody do that? Who would turn down another person's heartfelt wishes for happiness?
I know, I know, plenty of people. I can hear you loud and clear.
I'm just saying that maybe it doesn't matter how someone wishes you a happy holiday season, just the fact that they're doing it at all should make you feel good inside. “I wish you happiness” Isn't that really what it all comes down to? How often do we get to hear that?
I choose to accept all of my “Happy Holidays” and each “Happy Hanukkah” to come my way. If there happens to be a “Merry Christmas” in the mix, then so be it. I'll take it all. Got a spare “Joyous Kwanzaa” or “Blessed Yule”? I do. Just got them today. I intend to reuse and recycle them with abandon and lavish them on my friends and family and maybe even a stranger or two if I feel so inclined.
I wish you happiness. I wish you happiness now and after the new year begins. I wish you happiness on your birthday and on the Wednesday after your next dentist appointment. There isn't a magical time of year or particular way of doing it, I just wish it for you. You can choose to take it or leave it. Just don't tell me how to say it because that sort of ruins it for me.