Monday, December 9, 2013

Happy Holidays?

Well, my holiday sales season is just about over, which means that I finally get a chance to get back to my work here. As you may know, I make my living as a jeweler / artist, in the medium of chain-mail. It's a strange way to make a living, but hey, I like it.

Anyways, I recently had my second to last show for the season, and it was my big one. Huge venue, large booth, tons of people (but not much money this year which kind of sucked), and many, many people wishing me a happy holidays.

Thus it begins: ye merry olde "generic holiday of your choice" season.

But wait a minute. This isn't a generic holiday season. It is a very specific one, with a long history, and rich with meaning. While there are a few different traditions that have celebrations at this time, though not all do. And it is generally considered the Christmas season at this time, in this culture, because that is the predominant faith here.

So why do many of us wish each other a happy holiday? Why not a merry Christmas?

Many people claim that it is somehow showing respect to those who are not Christian.

Really? How?

You see, as far as I can tell, we live in a very diverse community, filled with people from all sorts of backgrounds, each with their own rich heritage, each worthy of celebration.

Rather than wishing someone a nameless "holiday" greeting, why not wish them a merry Christmas? Or a happy Chanukkah? Or a joyous Ramadan? Why should we strip away the diversity of faiths out there and try to wish everyone a non-denominational, meaningless holiday greeting? If we want to celebrate diversity, we must begin by acknowledging it.

The flip-side of this is that some people feel they may inadvertently insult another person by wishing them a merry Christmas, or whatever their particular holiday greeting may be. They especially try to lay this burden on immigrants, who may not be Christian. But you know what? I have never heard an immigrant say that they are insulted by someone saying "Merry Christmas". In fact, I have heard many say that they actually feel hurt that others think a joyous well-wishing would somehow insult them. Strange, isn't it?

When someone wishes me merry Christmas, I smile. They have just wished me well, from a point of joy in their own heart. How can I not appreciate this? And why would I possibly want to deny them this? Why should they have to hide their faith when wishing me joy?

This is not a season for quietly hiding in our corners, afraid that we may insult another. It is a time for exuberance. It is a time for celebration. It is a time for getting out there and overcoming the cold, dark onset of winter and reminding each other that we are both loved and loving.

So let others wish us a boisterous Bodhi day, or a wild Diwali, or a bountiful birthday of Guru Nanak, or a raucous Ridvan. Let us celebrate their joy with them.

In fact, if we want to wish someone a happy holiday, let us do it year-round, for it seems that every week has a holiday in it, if we only look hard enough.

1 comment:

  1. (This comment is from mys wife, Marielle)

    Growing up in Quebec, we used to wish each other a "joyeux temps des fetes", which basically translates as happy holidays. And we were all Christian, although most of us were lapsed. In other words, it wasn't an interfaith concern.

    It was because we wished each other a happy season in which we celebrated Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year's Eve, New Year's Day, and the Kings. Every day around these days had a celebration in them.

    So if we were on a particular day, we would wish them the greeting of that day. For example, on Christmas day we would wish each other a Merry Christmas, but on another day in the month we would wish each other a joyous season, or happy holidays.