By Anne Kimball on December 13, 2012
I took my receipt from the cashier, white-knuckle-gripped the bar on the shopping cart, cast my eyes downward and muttered Merry Christmas under my breath as I sprinted out of the store.
Because I had this inner battle just before I opened my mouth: should I say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays? I know that Happy Holidays is the PC way to go. Uttering the phrase Merry Christmas to someone used to make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, but nowadays I feel more like I've just delivered an insult than a friendly greeting.
I could comfortably wish the same cashier a happy Valentine's Day, even if I was unaware of her relationship status. St. Patrick's Day? I've wished a happy one to every culture and ethnic group under the sun.
Why then do the words Merry Christmas get so stuck on my tongue?
My questioning is purely hypothetical; I know perfectly well why. We've been brainwashed to believe that the merest hint of anything religionesque is to be stricken from our vocabulary. Now, fear not if your religion is in the minority. If fewer than 50% of the population worships alongside you, you may proudly decorate, sing, and greet others in the manner befitting your respective holiday. Your office manager will hasten to display your religious icons on the receptionist's desk, even while stowing away the two foot plastic Christmas tree in the stock closet with the extra TP and lightbulbs. But if you're Christian? Best to keep your household decorations pared down to some white lights and evergreen branches. Candy canes are iffy, but if you're feeling brazen, I say go for it. No reindeer, no Santas, and God forbid, no lawn mangers. Strike the word "Christmas" from the link with ___cards, ___parties, ___pageants, ___cookies and replace with the more anemic "holiday" and you're politically golden.
Well, call me a rebel if you will, but I'm not drinking that Kool-Aid. While I absolutely 100% believe it is wrong for the majority to force its religious views and practices on those who don't share their beliefs, I also think it is equally wrong to villify those of us who wish to publicly celebrate our religious holidays, just because ours is a majority view. If it is right to not just tolerate but welcome the celebrations of others, it is right to allow the celebrations of the majority, as well.
How can we hope for tolerance and acceptance of all cultures and religions if we try to sweep a selective few under the rug and pretend they don't exist?
As for me, I hope to learn about your religion, your culture, or at least enjoy the ways in which you celebrate what is important to you. I hope you extend the same courtesy to me.
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