Now that Halloween is one flip back in our calendars, “the holidays” are soon to be upon us. There’s just something I have to say right here at the “get-go” before things get really crazy:
“I celebrate Christmas, but you can wish me a ‘Happy Holiday.'”
There, I said it.
There sure seems to be a lot of people angry over the fact that more people say “Happy Holidays” than “Merry Christmas.” But I’m afraid that anger gets taken out on well-meaning grocery store personnel or unsuspecting retail staff. Or just people who might not know you’re a Christian. The thing is, you can’t always tell what holiday someone celebrates just by looking at them. And not everyone celebrates Christmas.
When I was in college and it was the last day of my finals in December, I was walking on campus and happened to share the stroll for a bit with my piano instructor. When we parted ways, I wished him a “Merry Christmas!” He smiled, nodded and went on his way. I don’t remember him actually saying anything in return, but I do remember the smile. I learned at some point later that he was Jewish. I had no idea. His last name was actually quite Scandinavian-sounding. There was no reprimand for what I said. I was genuine in wishing him well. He did not snarl at me and say, “I celebrate HANUKKAH, thank you very much!” He smiled.
More recently, just a couple of years ago, I purchased Christmas books for all my piano students as I always do this time of year. As one student sat on my piano bench, I pulled out his Christmas book and proudly presented it to him. His mother, sitting nearby, graciously said, “Actually if you have any Hanukkah books, that would work better for our family.” I had no idea that family was Jewish. Again – I didn’t know by looking at them and their last name happens to be Hispanic. No harsh words from his mother, no tsk-tsks, just grace and kindness.
If you know which holiday someone celebrates, then by all means, be specific in your wish! But if you aren’t sure, wish them a “Happy Holiday.” Is that really such a bad thing?
Please, before we get all bent out of shape because someone wishes us a “Happy Holiday,” can we just take a step back and take the well wish as just that? A well wish? I think the world could use a little more grace and kindness. More honey and less vinegar. That just tastes better, no matter what holiday you celebrate.