How long ago did I write that thing about how saying “Happy holidays” meant you were a child of Satan? It’s been a few years, but we’re still dealing with people who take some kind of personal offense to being greeted that way rather than with “Merry Christmas.” Now, Donald Trump is being hailed as a hero for giving the country permission to say “Merry Christmas” again. Just when you thought life couldn’t get any more weird.
I used to work with children at the local Jewish Community Center. When I first started there, a little guy who was especially, let’s say, spirited, was leaving at the end of a particularly challenging Friday. He was a smart, sweet little boy, intent on testing his boundaries with the new teacher, and had given me a pretty killer headache by the time his mom picked him up. He had just gone out the door, the last kid to leave, when he poked his head back in the room and said, “Shabbat Shalom, Miss April!” Twenty minutes earlier he had been calling me a poop and refusing to put the scissors away. And now here he was, wishing me well, even though I was undoubtedly a great big meanie scissors-controlling poop.
I’m not Jewish. I don’t celebrate the Jewish Sabbath, or any Sabbath. The words “Shabbat Shalom” by themselves mean little to me. They are words from a language I don’t understand. But when they were spoken by a little boy in the spirit of love and friendship, they were priceless. When my coworkers said those words at the end of the week, I returned them, because I meant them: Have a safe weekend. Have a happy Friday. Peace. Love. I wish you well.
All of this Happy Holidays/Merry Christmas nonsense is a matter of pride and semantics, nothing more. There is no war on Christmas. Nobody is trying to snatch the Christmas tree out of your front window, or waiting by the mailbox with a Sharpie, ready to steal your Christmas cards and replace your greeting with “Happy Holidays.” Santa’s not going to put coal in your stocking if you smile at someone and return their greeting, even if they didn’t phrase it just the way you would.
The world is a really big place, with a lot of really cool people in it. Some of them celebrate the same holidays you do. Some of them have the same skin tone you do. Some of them call their God by the same name you call yours. And some of them don’t. That doesn’t make their words of love, peace, and hope into something malicious and ugly.
When someone chooses to use their words to share a message of joy with you and you take offense to the words rather than appreciating the message, when you slap away a hand held out in friendship because of a minor linguistic difference, you are the offensive thing. You are the one spreading a message of ugliness and despair. As long as the words are given with love, it’s one message with dozens of beautiful translations.
So with that being said-Happy holidays to you, from your favorite great big meanie scissors-controlling poop. It’s been a beautiful year.
You know what sucks?
People wanting you to be happy, but not expressing it in exactly the way you think they should. Seriously, there’s nothing worse than exchanging cursory pleasantries with another person and having them wish you well in totally the wrong way.
It’s that time of year, folks. Peace and love, joy and hallelujah, all that mess and egg nog too. (Which, by the way, makes me vomit, so please don’t try to convince me that it’s delicious and I’ll like it and I should really try it again, for real, it’s great. It’s not great. It smells precisely the way it did when I puked it all over my grandma’s breakfast bar when I was 3, and I’m quite certain that it tastes the same, too.) Anyway, by peace and love and joy et cetera, what I really mean is a bunch of crazy people fighting over the latest battery-operated hunk of trendy obnoxiousness and getting pissed off because other people–and corporations, even–have the audacity to spew disgusting profanities such as… wait, wait. Herd the children out of the room, folks, and if you’re faint of heart, you might want to quit reading because this is some SERIOUS LANGUAGE… are you ready?
Okay, don’t say I didn’t warn you: People are out there telling other people–in public!–“Happy Holidays.”
That’s right. “Happy Holidays,” rather than “Merry Christmas.” How fucking offensive is that? We celebrate Christmas in America, not “holidays.” Next thing you know, you’ll be trying to tell us that Christmas is a holiday, like those other days with all the candles and the multiple days and the Anti-Christ and such. From there, it’s not a far stretch to saying that “Merry” and “Happy” mean kind of the same thing. And from there, folks, utter chaos. We live in a country where it should be assumed, without question, that every single person we encounter is of the Christian persuasion, or if not Christian, they at least have the good sense to celebrate Christmas and not one of those ungodly other days. One of those damn holidays, as they like to call them.
I know in some places, folks would be happy to hear a pleasant greeting, regardless of semantics. People might actually mistakenly assume that “Happy Holidays” meant something nice, something kind, something along the lines of, “Hey, whatever you celebrate, I hope you’re happy doing it.” And that, dear friends, is just WRONG. Around here, complaining about someone saying something nice to you doesn’t make you look like a big jackass, no matter what anyone else says (all those heathens with their “logic” and “compassion,” am I right?). It makes you a fine, upstanding American, a good Christian who knows that neither of those things have a got-damn thing to do with diversity or kindness.
Everyone knows Jesus is the Reason for the Season (no really, it has nothing to do with the Earth’s tilt on its axis or anything, you know, scientific like that) and Jesus was all about forcing everyone to acknowledge the holiday that his esteemed followers jacked from the Pagans, slapping his name on it like some cheesy “NEW AND IMPROVED!” sticker on a bottle of cheap detergent. I’m pretty sure it says in the Bible even (right after the part about God hating homosexuals and being down with protesting funerals) “thou shalt not patronize a discount store in which the employees speaketh such sin as ‘Happy Holidays’.”
So for all of you like-minded folks out there, I wish you the opposite of this nasty phrase: a most unhappy holiday. And for those of you with a bit of sense about it, I wish you happy holidays, merry Christmas, blessed Yule, happy Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and whatever else you might choose to celebrate in this month of–yes, I’m going to say it–holidays.