Happy Holidays: Christmas Cheer And Bitter Divides

photo of christmas pictures
There is not a War On Christmas.

If there were, I would know. I would be at all of the strategy sessions.

Growing up, I was not bothered by all of the classroom festivities that accompanied the holiday season. I mean, what kindergarten student does not enjoy a break from classroom tedium to clumsily assemble gingerbread houses or to make tacky felt ornaments? I mean, my family set up a tree and lights and had presents—basically Christmas. More accurately described as Santamas, perhaps.

What I did not enjoy, particularly in elementary school (where it was extra abundant), was the default assumption that everyone celebrates Christmas. And feeling left out when other people knew songs that were not taught in music class but that classes were occasionally expected to sing towards the end of December. It was not a feeling of jealousy that, for other students, celebrating Christmas involved more than it did in my household. It was a resentment that I was excluded. That events were planned and that, even as an eight-year-old, I was very aware that the presence of myself and other students at my school who did not actually celebrate Christmas was mostly an afterthought. There was a token Hannukah song for any students who might be Jewish, and that was about it for non-Christians.

As an adult, I have no real desire to ruin anyone’s Christmas. What I want is for, in public spaces, as much inclusion as possible. While one could argue—and I would even agree—that having a decorated evergreen tree has almost become a secular symbol at this point (and, at any rate, at least decorating evergreen trees is not exclusively a Christian practice this time of year), a Nativity display on public property certainly is not. It is an exclusively Christian, religious display and it is not appropriate to display that on public land—certainly not on its own. I …

… have no objection to individuals displaying it on private property.

That said, private individuals as well as businesses (both large and small) would do well to bear in mind that there are millions of Americans (and, um, billions of people in the world) who are not Christians and who are not celebrating Christmas. Saying “Happy Holidays” is not anti-Christian and it does not ignore Christmas. Spoiler alert: Christmas is a holiday. So is Hannukah. So is Winter Solstice. So is Kwanzaa. So is Dies Natalis Solis Invicti. So is Saturnalia. So is New Years. And though it tends to fall about a month later, so is the Spring Festival (Chinese New Year). Happy Holidays includes all of these, and while it does not include people who celebrate no holidays, it is certainly the most inclusive term. It is an wide-ranging wish of well-being and cheer. It is a wonderful sentiment. Stores that very deliberately say “Merry Christmas” are, in many cases, catering to shoppers who prefer for their holidays to be singled out for celebration.

Did any of you guys watch Stargate Atlantis? It’s one of my favorite science fiction shows. And one little tiny thing that I appreciated about it was that there were a couple of occasions in which the leading protagonist, John Sheppard, after asking if a male character (including one character played by Jason Momoa) had a special woman in his life, would also ask if he had a special man in his life. It was just a polite way of not dismissing a person with a well-intended question. And it was nice to see as a viewer, as well.

Plus, I mean, you guys know that Christmas is in no danger, right? One of my favorite quotes from the history of time is this 2004 quote by The Daily Show’s Samantha Bee:

“Christmas: It’s the only religious holiday that’s also a federal holiday. That way, Christians can go to their services and everyone else can stay home and reflect on the true meaning of separation of church and state.”

Seriously.

I will admit that, my freshman year of college, I had a . . . less-than-ideal roommate. He would oscillate from being a Deist to being a devout and conservative Catholic. He put up an anti-abortion sign on our window and, after a few people asked me worried questions about it, I put up my own counter-sign on the window to avoid people thinking that I endorsed that position. This individual had never seen South Park, despite his fondness for television (like, you guys probably think that I like television a lot, and I do. But there’s really no comparison to his fondness for it. He can literally just watch random sit-coms or whatever happens to be on all day long). Despite his lack of familiarity with South Park, he had a lot in common with Mr. Garrison from the show, including the sound of his voice (I mean, my impressions of them are almost identical).

So I did antagonize him a bit (with, with his habit of drunken yelling and the fact that his side of the room looked like a laundromat had exploded, he kind of deserved) by, during December, greeting my friends at the door with “Seasons Greetings!” and telling them “Happy Holidays” instead of “hey” or “bye.” This would prompt him to yell “No! Merry Fucking Christmas!”

Without having ever heard (totally NSFW) this song, you guys. It was too much.

And so is the so-called “War On Christmas.” It’s not a war, you guys. It’s just a minority of people saying “We’re here too.” And it’s also a significant number of Christians saying: “Actually, they’re here too.”



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