KENSINGTON, MD, December 14, 2011 - So here’s the thing: I think the war on holiday greetings is over. And I think the holiday greetings lost.
Anyone with access to the internet in the month of December has probably seen memes on the proper greetings to use when acknowledging the plethora of holidays that happen this month. There are those who accept only Christmas wishes, those who try and cover a lot of ground by only using the term “holiday” and the occasional snarky science type who will remind us all that “the reason for the season is axial tilt.”
I’ve seen Facebook conversations on this topic turn into deep theological discussion or devolve into outright combative virtual yelling matches about who’s allowed to celebrate what holiday in what fashion.
I grew up in an area with a significant Jewish population so I’ve never had to walk up a learning curve about the holidays other than Christmas that happen around the winter solstice. Hanukkah was as much a part of my cultural vocabulary as Christmas was and everyone in my school treated the holiday season as a multi-faceted experience.
Celebrations included nods to both of the predominant religions in the area and we all said “Happy holidays” because it was a toss up whether the person you were greeting would have visions of sugar plums or potato latkes dancing in their heads. For me personally, as the child of a lapsed Catholic and a non-practicing Jew, there were both sugar plums AND latkes in my house every winter. I don’t know if that experience at home made me more religiously broad minded, but it sure did make for a yummy December!
Since then, I’ve been part of Team Happy Holidays when tossing about pleasantries unless I have direct personal knowledge of what holiday the person I’m talking to will be celebrating. It’s inclusive, it’s friendly, it’s a nice way to end a conversation or retail transaction. At least in my simple little mind it is. Other people disagree and insist on more specific holiday references. Or no holiday references. Or all holiday references. Somehow, some way, it seems that phrases that used to be common pleasantries are now political statements.
Which might explain why I haven’t heard any of them yet this season.
I’ve been to stores, to doctor’s offices, to the gymnastics place where my son likes to bounce on trampolines during open gym. I’ve chatted with the UPS guy and the parents of my son’s classmates and the café car guy on the Amtrak from New York to DC. The conversations have all been friendly and light and all conclude the same way: with the person suggesting that I have a nice day.
Not a nice Christmas or Hanukkah or Yule or Kwanzaa or New Year or all of the above. Just a nice day.
Maybe it’s too early in the month to expect holiday greetings or maybe without snow no one is really feeling the holiday ambience. Or maybe holiday greetings have become a tinsel-draped minefield and it’s easier to keep conversation non-sectarian and non-seasonal. And that’s a shame.
The thing is, the holidays are supposed to be about hope and joy and good wishes from person to person. If the Battle of the Politically Correct Holiday Greeting has resulted in people shutting off the impulse to share that sentiment, then we’ve lost one of the most pleasant parts of a festive time of year.
I hope skipping the holiday greetings isn’t a new trend because I’ve always liked hearing them all. And I hope none of you take it the wrong way when I say Happy Holidays to each of you and yours.
Rebekah is a DC-area mom with an over-developed sense of irreverence, socialist tendencies, ADD, and a blog. She recently quit her non-profit sector job to pursue her dream of not working. She now spends her time answering her 3-year-old son’s questions and ranting at her blog Mom-in-a-Million, talking about life as a DC Mom at The DC Moms and sharing her political views at The Broad Side. You can find her on Twitter at MomIn_AMillion.
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