HAPPY HOLIDAYS

This is not the type of article I usually write. For some, it may be a little controversial. That’s O.K. – this is just my thought and perspective – comments from my readers are always welcome. I find as I age, I am less interested in ideology and more interested in spirituality. I feel a shift in my world view. Globally, we are facing humanitarian crisis after crisis of gargantuan proportions. Yet, once again, it has started – the continued arguments over the term ‘Happy Holidays’. The articles, news comments, Facebook posts and even political candidates weighing in on what, for some, is apparently a controversy. Last year I had someone say to me, “I hate Happy Holidays!” I asked myself, “How is it that someone is using the word hate in this season of peace, love and joy? And, is so indignant over something so small?” Consequently, I decided this year to weigh in myself in an attempt to give a different perspective. Considering how the world is currently ripping apart at the seams, filled with war, terrorism, hunger, homelessness and on and on and on, in this season of giving thanks, this season of peace, this season of love, I offer these thoughts.

The use of the term Happy Holidays is not a recent occurrence. As a child in the 1950s and 60s, I remember my Mother often used the greeting Happy Holidays. My Mother sometimes worked at one of the local stores during the Holiday Season, which in the United States, started around Thanksgiving. In those days, we were a country primarily of Christians. If, like my Mother, you worked at a store starting around Thanksgiving, can you imagine the clerks saying, “Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Hanukah, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,” before handing you your package and receipt. Instead, they said, “Happy Holidays.” From my point of view, and I was a child at the time so I could be totally off kilter on this one, but it seems to me Happy Holidays was a wish of inclusion. Heck, when I was a kid, Andy Williams sang a popular song, ‘Happy Holiday’, which was originally sung by Bing Crosby in 1942 and written by Irving Berlin in 1941. To me, it is still a Christmas song I listen to at Christmas. But, it could be a song for any of the other celebrations during the Holiday Season, as well. So, Happy Holidays was used way before I was born! Yet, some people take offense at its use like it’s a recent occurrence designed to be a war on Christmas.

I don’t remember any controversy over the use of the term Happy Holidays when I was a child. So, why in recent years has it become such an issue for some people? Perhaps it is because in the 1950s and 1960s, Christians were pretty much in the majority, at least in the United States. I can’t speak for the rest of the world. But in our modern times, we live in a much more pluralistic nation and for that matter, many other countries are also more diverse. Today, a store clerk would have to add Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Winter Solstice and, a new one I recently heard, Happy HumanLight. If we are a diverse people, a welcoming people, a people wanting to include rather than exclude, than Happy Holidays recognizes our diversity, it welcomes someone regardless of their faith or even if they don’t have one. It includes everyone. If I know someone is a Christian, I say, “Merry Christmas.” If I know someone is Jewish, I say, “Happy Hanukkah.” And, so on. To me, that is just common courtesy. As a Christian, I am not offended if someone says, “Happy Holidays” to me. It is all inclusive, welcoming and courteous. I recognize the person most likely has no idea what my affiliation is but is still showing me common courtesy with a wish for a Happy Holiday. I don’t expect everyone on the planet to be like me and I wouldn’t want that. I celebrate our diversity as human beings. It’s about acceptance of differences and not making this all about me or my faith.

This season is not about us individually. It is not about self-righteous indignation. It is not about what we like or dislike. It is not about what we believe in or don’t believe in. It is not about creating still more us vs. them situations. It is not about red cups or whether a retailer or someone on the streets says Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas. We certainly have larger worries as a world. We are all connected as a world. When one suffers, we all suffer. And there is already way too much suffering. In this season of love, peace and joy, let us put aside the minutiae and accept each other regardless of how we celebrate the season. Let us give thanks for our diversity and that we have the ability to make the world a better place. Let us truly make this a season of love, peace and joy.

I leave you with the Buddhist prayer of loving kindness:

May you be well;
May you be happy;
May you be peaceful;
May you be loved.

To all my readers, whatever your faith, wherever you live – Happy Holidays,

Kathy

22 comments on “HAPPY HOLIDAYS

  1. Very thoughtful post. As you said, we seem to be ripping apart at the seams. We have really important issues we need to face, the biggest in my view being climate change, and we waste time on such nonsense. Just another distraction so we don’t think of the important issues.

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  2. Nicely written. I agree 100%. In today’s violent world, where strangers are randomly killing strangers, to have someone wish me Happy Holidays is a gift. Peace and happiness to all.

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  3. I absolutely agree with you! How could anyone be offended by a greeting of good cheer? Sometimes I think there are just some people who enjoy get their panties in a wad about something. It’s hard to imagine that anyone can think that there is a war on Christmas since it seems to start earlier every year.

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  4. I agree with you completely. It seems as if people are getting so self righteous with their own beliefs and not understanding everyone may not celebrate the way they do. And, as you point out, with so much hatred already in the world, why would anyone get so worked up over a message inclusive of everyone. Perhaps it’s just the media that also blows these things out of proportion. Thank you for so eloquently putting into words what I have been thinking.

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  5. I concur with your observations. We don’t use the term Happy Holidays here in Australia so everyone gets wished Happy Christmas or Merry Christmas whatever their persuasion.

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  6. Janice Corporate Australia uses Happy Holidays, it is politically incorrect to use Christmas now. I am sad to see Happy Christmas become such a touchy subject, especially in America where freedom of religion was the reason the founding fathers went there in the first place. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone and Happy Holidays as well.

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  7. Kathy,
    You wrote a great article about Happy Holidays. To me this is made up news just like the recent ‘news’ about the Starbucks red cup and the rest of the hype. It makes me (a news junkie) want to tune all of the breaking stories of this type out. I think the 24 news cycle is partly to blame. Fox, CNN, and the rest of the news organizations always have to have the latest scoop.

    The recent terror attacks in Paris is a great example. That story took days to fully develop, but the various news channels just put people on to blather on and on when they had nothing else. Although I like Fox, I can’t stand that they always find some way to blame the President of this and any other bad thing that happens in the world. Same with CNN. I miss Headline News (HLN) when you could catch a 30 minute news summary any time.

    As a soon to be retiree, I love reading your blog. Keep up the good work and Happy Holidays.

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  8. Beautifully said, Kathy ! We’ve got much more important things to think about right now ! Happy Thanksgiving to You and also, Merry Christmas !!!

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  9. I totally agree. You have hit the high points exactly. This is a season of love and caring, and not everyone relates to this as a Christian. I think it is the ignorant people who want to pretend everyone is of the same faith as they are who are putting up this dumb objection to “Happy Holidays.” It is certainly going on where I live, unfortunately. It’s part of the anti-immigrant, xenophobic wave sweeping the country and egged on by ignorant presidential candidates. Thanks for your essay!

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  10. Hi Kathy,

    Well I actually agree with you. I’m what most people would consider very narrow in my Christian beliefs – there is only ONE WAY to God and that is through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice. That is offensive to so many. But I agree 100% with you on “Happy Holidays” – I’m not going to get my “panties in a wad” over semantics. It is just meant to be a nice, cheerful greeting this time of year. The idea is just like you said – to include Hanukkah etc, and yes it includes New Year’s Day – not to be a goofy crusader for a particular word. You are right – no one cared at all when Irving Berlin wrote that song!

    A side point: it seems that before Facebook, I didn’t know what everyone thought about every minutia in the world like we do now. Maybe that can be a topic for another post – my daughter just had a baby and the pressure on Facebook is getting to her – Are you breast-feeding? (the answer better be YES), are you going to do a VBAC for your next baby? Did you go to the car-seat instruction/safety check class? Are you vaccinating? Are you co-sleeping? Are you swaddling? Are you baby-carrying or strollering? Are you feeding on a schedule or on demand? When I had my kids, I only knew what 5 other women were doing and never heard of most of these issues. Ha. Seems like there were a lot of advantages to that. She has 500+ people telling her what she should do.

    Well,

    Happy Holidays!

    Renee

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  11. Hi Kathy! Nice post! I’ve been reading your other article posts and it makes me glad to read and to know that there are still a lot of people like you who really care for everybody especially those who were suffering. Maybe we can’t reach them all but we can include them into our prayers every night. Thank you for your concerns and I hope you can write one more soon! 🙂

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  12. Thank you for your thoughtfulness. It is a pleasure to read the wonderful comments here, too. As a Jewish woman, I once wrote a newspaper column appreciating “Happy Holidays,” and I was roundly trounced and attacked for “killing Christmas.” I can’t tell you how wonderful it was to read these comments. My blog: 3rdthirds.blogspot.com (for the Third Third of our lives)

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