I just received the most hateful email I think I have ever seen, and it wasn’t even intended to be against me. It was from a friend, about the whole “Happy Holidays” thing. She wanted to start a FB campaign about it, to take back the holiday from all those “dirty non-Christians who don’t even deserve to be in this country”. WTF?! Really?! It went on and on and on with one mean, vile, nasty comment after another. She referred to non-Christians as worthless, evil, non-people, among other things. Well, guess what? I AM one of those dirty non-Christians and I am damn sick of being, at worst vilified, and at best “tolerated” as if I am something second rate. And I have spent 24+ years in and around the military, supporting and serving my country. I am 41 years old and intelligent. I think I have the right to believe as I chose, since the freedom of worship is extended to me as well.
And I guess I really don’t get what the big deal is if someone says “Happy Holidays”. The argument that this takes the Christ out of Christmas is one I think holds no water. At its very heart, any faith is personal. It isn’t about the songs we sing, the books we read, the churches we attend. Those are just outward manifestations of it, tangible representations, a joining of community. What makes faith is how you think, how you feel, how you believe, how you choose to live your life. No one can take those things from you if you don’t let them. Someone saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” can’t take Christ from your heart and your soul.
I think that the assumption that everyone is Christian is an arrogant and erroneous assumption. There are those who celebrate Hanukkah, or Yule, or Kwanzaa, too. The phrase “Happy Holidays” isn’t even just about Christmas and comparable holidays. The phrase is generally accepted to include all holidays from Thanksgiving to the New Year. If I know someone’s faith, then I will acknowledge it with the faith-specific greeting. If I don’t, I will say “Happy Holidays” because I think it is wrong to assume that everyone is of the Christian faith.
It has nothing to do with disrespecting Christianity. I think the faith itself can be both beautiful and spiritually uplifting. But that is also how I feel about all faiths because that is how all faiths can be to those that practice them. I feel that assuming that everyone is Christian, or just not caring, is disrespectful. It is essentially saying that their faith is not worthy of consideration unless it is Christian.
And what I find most interesting, at least among those I know? That those of us who are non-Christian are not generally offended when offered a “Merry Christmas” because it is the good wishes behind the words that count, not the words themselves. This doesn’t seem to go both ways in many cases.
What kind of world do we live in when trying to be respectful of people from all walks of life is so vehemently opposed? Is this the kind of spirit that this season is supposed to represent?