Monday, December 21, 2009

What Happened?

So I worked today, although I kind of failed to see the point of school being in session. The kids who actually were there physically certainly weren't mentally - it's way to close to Christmas. Luckily, the aide I was subbing for realized that too, so although I did a lesson with the fourth graders, we stuck to reading-themed games and coloring for the little kids. (I feel sorry for Drew - she had to do lessons . . . lame!!) Of course, the talk was all Christmas, all the time. All the kids were excited for their Christmas parties tomorrow (seriously, going to school on December 22? What the crap?) and as each group was coming in and getting settled I asked them all about their Christmas plans. All the Christmas talk kind of got me thinking.

I remember when I was little "happy holidays" meant "merry-Christmas-and-happy-new-year" and people said it because it was shorter. And "happy holidays," "merry Christmas," and "season's greetings" were all used pretty interchangeably and nobody really got offended at it. When did that change, and how did I miss the memo? And who's crazy idea was it to make "happy holidays" mean "well you're clearly going to hell, you horrific anti-Christmas heathen?" I mean, really . . . that's kind of a dramatic shift in meaning, especially to make in only, what, fifteen years? Kinda weird, no?

On the one hand, I can kind of see where the stores and other "public service" type places are coming from. Regardless of what the founding fathers intended as far as the good old US of A being a Christian Nation, the fact is that not everyone who lives here is Christian. Ergo, not everyone celebrates Christmas. And the last time I checked, that was okay, everyone was allowed to choose what religion or lack thereof to affiliate with. (I didn't miss that memo too, did I? Lol.) So addressing a large group with "happy holidays" just makes sense . . . and I just plain don't get what there is in the phrase to get offended at. If it wasn't offensive when I was a kid, what happened between now and then?

And holy crap, when you're talking to someone one-on-one at work, you've gotta be careful. There are some real nut jobs out there. At Disney the policy is basically "happy holidays unless they say something else." But even that can be deadly. First, there are the nut jobs who will scream at you if you say merry Christmas because how dare you assume they're Christian, they're Jewish, or Buddhist, or atheist or whatever, and they want to speak to your manager right now!!! Then there are the nut jobs that at the end of a brief conversation just kind of wait for you to say merry Christmas and if you don't say it before they do then how dare you take the Christ out of Christmas with your horrible political correctness, and just who are you, a terrorist or something, and they want to speak to your manager right now!!! The good news is, you can usually tell they're a nut job. The bad news is, there's not usually any way to tell which kind of nut job they are until they've flipped the proverbial gasket and blown the proverbial lid. Luckily, (most) managers are pretty decent and realize they're dealing with nut jobs so it's not like you have to start worrying about your job. (Well, that was true when we were there. Word on the street is things are changing and cast members might have to start worrying about freaking out the nut jobs.)

All I can say is what is wrong with these people?! Don't they have anything better to do than get offended at something that is, when considering the bigger picture, rather trivial. Whether one isolated person or even an entire company does or does not return your chosen seasonal greeting does not change the veracity or lack thereof of the religion behind said seasonal greeting, whether that religion is Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Shinto, or the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. (Wow, I feel intelligent - I haven't written a sentence that eloquent sounding since college!) How did all of society lose sight of that fact at the same time? This is one of the many things that just plain makes no sense to me.

That said, I say merry Christmas to people (unless, of course, work prevents me). But I don't get offended when someone wishes me a Happy Hanukkah. Actually, I find it kind of cool. Everybody and their dog gets Christmas greetings, but Hanukkah - I feel like I'm now a member of an exclusive club. And I'm sad I never got a "happy Kwanzaa," although the whole not-being-black thing might have had something to do with that.

I guess the point I've been meandering around, both here and all day mentally, is that it seems to me that too many people are focused so much on making sure that other people remember the "reason for the season" that they're forgetting it themselves. (Mote, meet beam anyone?) I mean, have you seen this? While I applaud the intent, in flipping through a few of the entries I can't help but get a sense of hypocrisy. Company X gets a Christmas-negligent rating because the Christmas muzak was too soft? Store Z gets a Christmas-offensive because not only did they have menorahs next to the Christmas trees (logical place to put them, if you ask me) but the fat lady was blocking you so you could only watch helplessly as someone else got the last (insert ultimately trivial item here)? I'm sorry, but how many people did you trample trying to get into that Store on Black Friday? Just how Christlike were your thoughts and feelings when you were berating that poor minimum-wage making cashier for forgetting to say merry Christmas to you because she's got a line ten people deep and she's trying her best to shorten everyone's wait as much as she can? Seriously, people need to get over themselves. And then focus more on themselves than on everyone else. That's when they'll start seeing the change they're lobbying so hard for.

On a slightly related note, this is a cause I can definitely get behind. And if all those people criticizing stores for not having Christmas decorations just spent one less hour at the store, and ten fewer bucks on presents, I'll bet their Christmas would be a lot more merry, no matter who did or didn't wish that for them. Forget the war on Christmas - I'm Team War FOR Christmas! :-)

P. ost S. cript
In case your eyes glazed over back around paragraph 3, this is basically what I was saying. too bad they don't show it anymore. :-(


  1. God bless your pretty little head. I refuse to get caught up in the 'happy holidays' madness, because, gosh darn it! I hope people DO have happy holidays, even if they AREN'T christian. But, well, I'm the mormon democrat who's going to hell, anyway...

  2. Amen! The way I see it is I am Christian, so I will say Merry Christmas and feel free to give me a happy whatever your religion may be without feeling guilty for sharing with me your beliefs!

  3. Yay for people agreeing!! I have to admit, I was a little worried about the reaction this one would get. That said, I'm pretty sure most people my age are going to hell, so at least the company will be good. :-)

  4. Happy Festivus!

    Actually, in my current role, we're encouraged to use "Mele Kalikimaka" as a greeting. (For those who didn't know, Mele Kalikimaka is Hawaii's way to say Merry Christmas to you ... and for those who did, yes, I know, the song is stuck in your head now. You're welcome)

    (and lastly, for those who have never heard the song, check out )