Why I'm Wishing You a Happy Holiday

It's Not Me, It's You

Happy Holidays!  Merry Christmas!  Happy Hanukkah!  Happy Kwanza!  Happy Festivus!  Whatever the hell it is that you celebrate, I hope you enjoy it.

The War On Christmas marches on in 2015, with fewer and fewer corporations wishing their customers a “Merry Christmas” and more and more opting for a more general “Happy Holidays” or, gasp, not even mentioning it at all!  For some reason Christians believe that there is a concerted effort to remove their holiday from the public sphere when corporations don’t acknowledge it.  Hilarious, I know.

The fact of the matter is that in our multicultural world, corporations are playing it safe.  Sure, the majority of their customers might still be Christians.  But why push away their Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Pagan, or non-believing shoppers?  That’s just bad business.  And even more so – what is the point of a corporation pandering to any specific religion in the first place?  I’m not the most well read religious scholar, but to my knowledge, no holy book makes mention of corporations praising their holy figures, only individuals.  (Then again, corporations are people in America, so maybe I’m contradicting myself here?)

In my personal life, I try to adhere to a modified version of the Golden Rule: Treat others at they wish to be treated.  In my day to day life though, I can’t possibly know the specific religious and/or cultural traditions that everyone I come into contact with celebrates.  Growing up in rural Colorado, our community was pretty homogeneous – you could confidently wish just about anyone a “Merry Christmas” and hit the nail on the head.  As I grew up and moved to the big city, I started to meet people that didn’t always share this identity.  I can remember cultural faux pas such as wishing a new Jewish friend a “Merry Christmas”, only to learn at an embarrassingly late moment in life that Jewish people aren’t too keen on celebrating the birth of Jesus.  It wasn’t out of malice, but rather out of sheer ignorance.  I’ve had a lot of those missteps in life, which may be why I am so comfortable with being uncomfortable.

So I veered towards the corporate line of “Happy Holidays”.  Why?  It’s not me, it’s you.  The thing is, I don’t care how you celebrate your religious or cultural holidays.  I do care that you enjoy them.  So rather than assume that I know everything about you and your belief system, I’d rather give out a more general message of cheer than guess wrong and offend you.  Perhaps you have a Christian mom and a Jewish dad, but you celebrate Christmas.  How am I supposed to know?  What if your family is Muslim, but you celebrate Christmas as an American cultural holiday, not a religious one?  Maybe your family prefers the Kwanza celebration but you aren’t overtly public about it.  In ALL of those situations, “Happy Holidays” applies.

If I know you and I know you celebrate Christmas, you can bet I will wish you a Merry Christmas.  If I know that your entire family is Jewish, I will feel comfortable in wishing you a Happy Hanukkah.  If you’ve told me that your family has drastically changed course and you celebrate Festivus, I will challenge you to a feat of strength directly after the airing of grievances.  Again – its not me, it’s you.  I’m not trying to take the “Christ” out of Christmas, or trying to wage war on Christmas – I just want you to enjoy your holiday, whatever it is.  If you wish me a Merry Christmas and I feel pretty confident that you also celebrate that holiday, I will probably wish you a Merry Christmas in return.

So Happy Holidays everyone!  I hope you have a wonderful time celebrating whatever it is you celebrate in whatever way you celebrate it.  I’ll keep my atheist Christmas traditions the same as always – overindulging on food and wine, then arguing with my family about topics I know little about until someone tells me to shut the fuck up.