November is in full swing, and you know what that means: Time to endlessly hear about the war on Christmas!
Now, I’m not claiming I have any sort of end-all-be-all argument for this concept. Do I believe there is a war on Christmas? No. Do I find it humorous that people choose to be angry during a time of year that their religious leaders and historical figures promote Peace and Love and Joy? Yes.
But one point that bothers me is the amount of aggression toward “Happy Holidays.” Christmas folks, both sacred and secular, get SO DAMN ANGRY when you use the above phrase in place of “Merry Christmas.” The problem is, the former makes a lot more sense.
Let’s break it down a bit:
Christmas is one day, every year: December 25th. ON that day, Merry Christmas works, also on Christmas Eve. In just the same way you wouldn’t wish someone a Happy Halloween or Happy Birthday a month before the actual day, Merry Christmas is a specific phrase dictating that the person have a merry day on the day dictated by the phrase itself. Some people try to claim that “Merry Christmas” actually means “Merry Christmas Season” but, I’m sorry, that’s crap. Implied meaning in the face of an argument does not validate the meaning. Try that shit in court. “I know I shouted ‘I’ll kill you’ at the victim in front of several witnesses before only a few days before his murder, but what it meant was ‘I’ll kill you, but not actually because I’m a law-abiding citizen.” It’s at that point all the jurors stand up in unison and shout “GUILTY.” However, devil’s advocate time: Let’s say it DOES mean Christmas Season. Okay, cool. But that throws a lot of ambiguity into the mix. Where does the Christmas season begin? Where does it end? Is it attached to when it is cold and snowy? Does that mean Florida has no Christmas Season? Is it a personal thing? Could I start saying Merry Christmas to people in July? It’s an odd bit of ambiguity. Cynics would say “after Thanksgiving!” Corporations would say “What’s Halloween?” Fairly divisive.
Now, let’s look at Happy Holidays. The period between October 31st and January 1st is covered in extremely popular holidays (granted, this is coming from a position of someone in the US, this may differ drastically beyond the States). Halloween leads into Thanksgiving, Then December sees a few major religious holidays, Mawlid, Hanukkah and Christmas, before capping of with New Years Eve/Day. Among that, you have Veteran’s Day, which is important to people like yours truly who is attached to many brave armed forces members, as well as Kwanzaa, President’s Day (Russian Appreciation Day this year, I think), and various smaller Christian observances. I’m not saying there is necessarily MORE Holidays in this period, but the Holidays that are there, despite creed or political affiliation or region all focus on one specific thing: Family first.
HALLOWEEN IS ABOUT CANDY
Halloween for many people is about spookiness, candy and whatnot, sure. But I find I tend to watch more horror movies more regularly with my framily (friend-family) than any other time of year. We make TIME for it, determined to share the season with each other. People with children spend DAYS helping their kids with costumes and taking their spawn to trick-or-treat events. Halloween IS about family. In fact, the three highly focused on holidays in this country (Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas) make a sort of familial progression: Halloween is about immediate family, Thanksgiving extends that reach a bit, Christmas extends that reach a lot. I am not Muslim or Jewish, so I don’t want to make assumptions about Hannukah or Mawlid, so someone let me know if those days tend to focus on big family meals and engagements, I’m actually quite curious.
And YES, Christmas is one of those holidays that celebrates family, fine. But that doesn’t make “Christmas Season” any less narrow scoped.
I propose a universal declaration of “Holiday Season” that starts the second Autumn rolls around in the end of September. The decorations of this season will evolve with the actual seasons, with autumnal colors and decorations spanning through to the end of November (I know the solstice is not until the 21st of December, but look me in the face and tell me December is an autumn month). At that point, winter themed decoration will take over. Holiday specific decorations can be instituted at any point in time at the discretion of the homeowner. By this decree, “Happy Holidays” will remain a viable phrase all the way into the dawning of spring (for sake of argument, we’ll say March 1st). All religions, political affiliations and beliefs can use the phrase, which will essentially stand for “hey, this is the time of year when we’re all doing stuff and planning stuff and seeing the people we love. I hope that goes well for you and yours and that the beginning of the new year sees a bright future for your family. I love you, fellow human, and I wish you the best.”
And Christmas Folks, here’s the thing: You want to know the way to “protect” Christmas? It’s not getting on the news and bitching, it’s not boycotting Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts or whoever you decide is attacking Christmas through coffee this year. You protect Christmas by SHARING. You share the concepts that Christmas is supposed to stand for: Peace, Joy, love, appreciation for you fellow man.
And one simple way to do that is to let people know “hey, you may or may not celebrate the same holiday as me. You may or may not celebrate it the same way or with the same ceremony and belief structure. But I hope this time of year sees you and your family in good health and happiness. Regardless of who you are, I hope you find joy in your life. Whatever holiday you’re headed off to celebrate next, I hope it makes memories that stay with you the rest of your life.”
I love Christmas, and it’s because of my (possibly naïve) belief that Christmas can be more than what we let it be. More than commercialism and Coca-Cola ads. More than determining that the prefix is required or somehow under attack. More than food and animated specials.
It’s about love. The love we feel for one another. The excitement we get when the air chills. The smells of pine and sweets and chocolate and turkey. Laughing with friends who tell horrifying Black Friday stories.
Smiling to one another. Waving to one another. Giving to one another.
Because the real secret to Christmas, to this entire Holiday season, to every single day of our lives, shouldn’t be who’s winning, who’s better, who’s attacking who….
…it’s learning from one another, growing as a people, remembering that we’re all in this together, like it or not.
Like I said: naïve.
As a note, Ramadan takes place in May. Good Friday and Easter are in April. Passover also April. Independence Day, July obviously. Lots of other important days for different people throughout the year, both sacred and secular. Different Holidays that are important for different countries.
Maybe “Happy Holidays” doesn’t have to stop. Maybe it can be a general phrase. Maybe it’s important we know when different celebrations are going on and we help others remember.
Maybe it’s more of a feeling than anything.
Maybe we make it last all year.
(Note: I listen to this song year round as one of the songs that grounds me.)
I know this was a long round-about way to get to this point (I am admittedly free-writing this right after a BUNCH of coffee). Sorry if I offended anyone, but I guess my grown up Christmas Wish this year is just that people look past the anger. We’ve had so much of that lately. Don’t bring it into a time of year that for nearly everyone is supposed to be about love.
Refocus that energy, that passion. And do something good.
Happy Holidays, folks.