I feel like Nostradamus. As if on cue after my most recent blog “Happy Yule” (below) a Merry Christmas e-mail debate broke out among the faculty of the college where I teach. This yuletide uproar began with the benign announcement of the annual “Holiday Luncheon.” The first e-mail response was offered with a scowl and a growl. (Hint: If you are scowling when you write an e-mail, astute readers will know this.) The writer was offended that he couldn’t go to a “Christmas” luncheon and opened the door for his opposition by adding, “What other holiday would we be celebrating? Fourth of July? Memorial Day? Martin Luther King Day?”
I’m proud to say that several faculty members returned fire by a) reminding him of what other holidays we could be celebrating, and b) offering reasons why their choices for December observances were every bit as valid as his.
I was discussing this at work tonight in the company of another faculty member and, as chance would have it, the chief of security. I had just offered my own response to the online debate and was anxious to show it to my colleague.
“Oh, so you’re getting into the Great Holiday Luncheon Debate of 2008,” Chief said. And then he added, “You know, this whole thing started because they had to use the word ‘holiday’ since we’re a state school.”
“No, Chief,” I replied. “This whole thing started when someone who believes he should own the holiday season decided to raise a stink about someone trying to be sensitive and inclusive.”
My friend, Priscilla, (props to Priscilla) offered a wonderful argument that I think I shall adapt for my own, with her permission. I hope I don’t misrepresent her position, but the way I got it was this: When the Christians agree to give back every “Christmas” symbol stolen from other traditions, then I’ll agree to give them December 25th. Lock, stock, and barrel. (Actually, to be technical, they would also have to give back December 25th since that was stolen from other traditions as well, but I shant quibble in that regard.)
ATTENTION ALL JESUS-FOLLOWERS: When someone says “Happy Holidays” to you, they aren’t trying to offend you, ignore you, or even de-Christianize you. What they are trying to do is NOT offend or ignore or inadvertantly Christianize you if you happen to not be a Christian. When you respond defensively to Happy Holidays, you are, in essence, offended by the fact that other people aren’t getting offended. How very WWJD of you.
Just be sweet. Spread love and joy. If you’ll leave your religious superiority out of the holiday season, I won’t point out that pagan mistletoe you have hanging above your door.