Sunday, December 13, 2015

Happy Holidays

There is a meme going around the interwebs that says

If you're Christian, wish me "Merry Christmas!"
If you're Jewish, wish me "Happy Hanukkah!"
If you're Pagan, wish me "Happy Solstice!"
 If you're African-American, wish me "Joyous Kwanzaa!"

I won’t be offended, just happy you took the time to share your joy.  

But here is the problem with this notion.  Wishing someone Merry Christmas who is not celebrating that holiday is like wishing someone Happy Birthday on your birthday.  Think about it.  Why would someone wish me a Joyous Kwanzaa?  Why?  I may recognize it is happening but it doesn't belong to me. Frankly what I think is that we should get to know our neighbor, know who they are and wish them a meaningful holiday for them.  If you are confused by the holiday they celebrate, ask.  It isn't really hard.  Too often we don't take the time to understand the people around us.  That is wrong.  
Now what is missing from this meme is the fact that in many cases you won't know the person well and there is no place to really ask.  If you are a clerk or a customer at a store, when you are in a cab, or simply walking down a busy street.  So the one thing that is a catch all that would plow the way to what might become a conversation is to simply say HAPPY HOLIDAYS.  Many people are celebrating something in our culture from late November to early January.  In more American/Secular holidays take place like Thanksgiving and New Year's Day.  We also slow down as December goes on and people take vacations and celebrate the breaths they can take for a minute before the gearing up again in the New Year.  Saying Happy Holidays opens a door.  It is really that phrase that has caused the most disruption and offense.  Boycotts of stores that use the phrase have been common in recent years, worse for Season's Greetings another wonderful catch all.  Fox News and their army of outrage have said the is a War on Christmas, often citing more inclusive celebrations and expressions this time of year.  All with the intent of trying to homogenize the culture that is deliciously diverse and wonderful vibrant.  
So at this time of year, wish someone a joyful and meaningful holiday they celebrate.  Accept the greetings of others, especially if they try to be inclusive, Attend Hanukah, Christmas, Solstice parties if you wish, or nothing at all.  But remember, the world is full of wonderful people who offer wonderful things and sometimes those things are outside of our normal everyday experience.  Those are the coolest.  
For those who celebrate, may your holiday bring you meaning, joy and perhaps some wonderful treats.  For those who don't have any celebration, may the fact the most do give you a few days of deeper breaths and calm in life.  And to all, each year we strive to do better than the last, take time to get to know someone very different from you.  You may learn something, especially about yourself.  

No comments:

My Well Runs Dry

Last night we had a great board meeting at the shul.  We are so excited about our new Religious School program so we spent a great deal of ...