Disclaimer #1: I am not one of those Christmas Nazis who gets all bent out of shape at each and every "Happy Holidays" he hears. I am, however, someone who finds the whole issue simply fraught with opportunities to tear others down.
In the words of the funniest stand-up comic working today (Brian Regan),
"I don't want to step on anyone's beliefs, but well,
here we go..."
So, what's wrong with "Happy Holidays?" Is it an insult to the entire global Christian Faith every time that phrase is uttered by a Wal-Mart greeter or Channel 7 announcer? Is it a big middle finger aimed at the baby in the manger, whose birth we are meant to be celebrating this month? Is Jesus sitting around Heaven, playing "Rock Band" with Father and Holy Spirit (Holy Spirit on drums, by the way), and he feels a disturbance in The Force and gasps, "Did you hear that, Dad? That little heathen just said 'happy holidays' to his customer!!" The Lord stomps a thunderous foot and bellows "Who cares, Son? You're messing up 'Love In An Elevator! Focus, Boy!" Holy Spirit doesn't miss a beat, of course, 'cause that dude is just made of rhythm.
Again, I don't care that much, but here are some problems with getting one's knickers all in a twist over "happy holidays." First, there are other holidays. Sure, one of them was invented in the 1960s and one is considered a relatively minor celebration of an ancient military victory and temple re-dedication, one is astronomical and important only to Druids and meteorologists, but there are several "holidays," so chill, brethren. Oh, and even if you drop Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Winter Solstice from the equation (which you would, wouldn't you?), you've still got the relatively innocuous New Year's, so that poor idiot on WTOP droning "happy holidays" at us, could simply mean "Happy Christmas and New Year," so chill.
Now, I get that the setting for most utterances of "happy holidays" is generally a store or a commercial, and that most gift-buying is being done in preparation for Christmas observance, but if you're truly focused on the birth of a savior, what are you doing fighting with each other and spending the ten percent of your income you're supposed to have tithed on giant trunk-loads of gifts? Because your book mentions Wise Men bearing gifts for the Newborn King? Really? One of those "kings" brought Him gold, but the other two presented bags of crappy spices no newborn should be around. Plus, they gave their gifts to Him. What greedy little priest decided that should translate into giving stuff to each other on his birthday every year, forever?
And as long as we're going to talk about Jesus' birthday, we have to acknowledge the fact that no one is really sure what DAY it is (or even what year, for that matter). If you want to get all solemn and anti-happy-holidays and anti-commercialism about it, you need to spend about half the year "celebrating His birth," because there must be 180 different stories and theories as to just what damn day it is in the first place. ("Dad! That guy just said my birthday might not be December 25! SMITE HIM!!" and The Lord spake, saying "This is my son, in whom I am well pleased, but if he messes up the intro to 'Ironman' one more time, I swear to me I'm going to turn Buddhist!")
Again - I don't really care if you want to say "happy holidays" to me, or exchange gifts with me, or just toast to a better whatever-year-it's-gonna-be with me on 12/31. Just bear in mind the silliness of getting all uptight about "accuracy" here. Most Americans still celebrate His birth, and they do it on December 25. That's cool. I enjoy it, too. I give it some thought around May 20th as well, since that might be His birthday. I simply see hypocrisy in getting all pissy over the details. I should also point out that going out of your way to take "Christmas" out of everything you say in December is just as stupid as insisting on the opposite.
You know what really says Christmas to me? Cards. Specifically, cards that are nothing but a photograph of you and your girlfriend in front of Victoria Falls, or the Eiffel Tower or some tropical paradise. "Merry Christmas - Look where WE went and you didn't!" And nothing says Christmas more than a picture of your children "In honor of the anniversary of the birth of our Lord and Savior, feast your eyes upon our wondrous progeny!" DISCLAIMER #2 - I have many friends and loved ones who do this, and it's fine. You know why? Because none of them are those hell-bent, you-better-say-Christmas-and-make-every-minute-of-December-about-the-Christ people. I love seeing pictures of your kids. Look how big they're getting etc.. It just has nothing to do with Christmas. And no, it is not about family, if you're going to be all Crusaderish about it.
Which, thank Flying Spaghetti Monster, you're not. That's why I love you! (Jesus: "Dad! Holy Spirit! Did you hear who that guy thanked instead of us? He's a non-believer! Get him!!" God: "That's it, son! Gimme that guitar! You're not playing with us anymore. Go play with the iPad I gave you last You-mas!")
Happy Holi-- (ahem, sorry) MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!