Friday, November 25, 2011

Merry Xmas? Happy Holidays!

I'm going to preface this post with an apology - I am the type of person who must have been a grade-school teacher in a past life... I have the propensity to be pedantic and want to correct people. I usually do squash that pretty well, or at least THINK I do, given the fact that people still seem to want to talk with me. :-)

All that aside, as Santa rolls in at the end of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, in comes the holiday season, which I adore: the smell of fir trees and bayberry candles, of fires burning, of cookies baking, and (yes - FINALLY now I can personally accept) the sound of Christmas music (and the occasional rotation in of The Hanukkah Song).

Oh. And the annual rant from folks bitterly protesting the use of "Happy Holidays" or "Merry Xmas".

Apologies to any well-meaning friends or family who've joined the protest, but since you've made your point clear, I figure I can make mine and no harm no foul. Besides, I love a good debate. :-)

Here's where the pedant in me would like to point all the people protesting the use of "Xmas" to the following:

This is not new usage that the "politically correct" have dreamed up. The use of "X" (or the Greek letter chi) to substitute for "Christ" has been around longer than we've had typography to produce it. It is a historically acceptable abbreviation. So when I abbreviate "Christmas" to "Xmas," I am not doing so out of disrespect, nor a desire to remove religion from the holiday. I am not part of any "left-wing conspiracy" nor am I an atheist. Maybe a lazy typist, if I have to admit to being something.

And "Happy Holidays"... Oh boy.

May I ask what's wrong with genuinely wishing someone good will, regardless of how you phrase it? What on Earth possesses someone to see the worst in an expression of good will, and tear down the giver (which I have actually SEEN while out Xmas shopping in past years), rather than accepting it in the spirit in which it's meant?

I certainly can't be the only one who uses "Happy Holidays" to encapsulate Christmas (or Solstice, or Hanukkah, depending on the recipient) AND the New Year, and I WOULD like to wish you a happy time for both holidays without generating offense on the part of the recipient.

And if the well-wisher is unsure of the holidays you celebrate, why is it an offense for them to wish you well generically? It's not up to the retail clerk (who's probably been behind that register WAY too long this season) to determine in less than a second which holiday you celebrate and wish you well accordingly. Is it too much to ask people to accept goodwill in the intent in which it's delivered and celebrate their respective holiday anyway? It is not meant to exclude anyone, rather instead including various other beliefs and celebrations. And since when is inclusion considered bad manners? It's akin to looking at a group of people, male and female, and insisting I call them "gentlemen." 

(Actually, it's more akin to looking at a group of people, some of whom are gender indeterminate, and asking me to call them "gentlemen" rather than "folks" - especially when I sure as heck don't want to offend someone.)

How about we look past the Thanksgiving night lines for the latest sales, look past the newest toys that you HAVE to have, look past the unintended slights and unneeded offense, and take a good long look at what we are all saying this season is about, whatever we believe, and reflect on that?

Happy holidays, folks... whatever you celebrate, or even if you don't. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Blessed Solstice, Joyous Yule, Happy New Year, and if I've missed anyone, please let me know. Just be happy. Unwind. Reflect. ENJOY the holidays and don't be consumed by them. May we all start 2012 happier for spending the holidays with loved ones, rather than saying, "Well, I'm glad THAT'S over for another year!"


Martin said...

Jennifer, this is priceless! I agree 100% with the argument, and I agree that it is impossible to wish someone anything more sincere than "Happy Holidays".


And oh, you forgot Kwanzaa.
Just sayin'

Gina said...

You're right, Jen--people are missing 'the spirit of the season', in quibbling over 'the letter of the season'. Which is ridiculous and sad. Stupid PC-ness--damned if you do and damned if you don't. Sooooo...we'll just opt for the higher ground and send out those well wishes anyway. (: