December 17, 2005

Happy Holidays versus Everything Else

When I initially heard about the "new" debate over using "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas" in businesses, my mind was split.

Happy Holidays is a non-specific greeting that can relate to anyone in any religious tradition.

However, living in America, where the predominant tradition is Christian, this was bound to tick a few people off.

From the article:

"We see this as just another attempt to remove our Judeo-Christian heritage," Gammons said. "Our country was founded by Christian people who came and built the nation on Christian principles."

Um, can I also point out that this is also what our nation is founded upon:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

I am stepping out on a limb in saying that this practice is (at least ideally) a 1) smart thing for businesses to do and 2)a progressive step in realizing that not only Christians live in America. And, gosh darn it, all Americans, despite their religious affiliations want to buy cheap, foreign labor-made goods, but that's another thing altogether.

The other side of my mind was saying, "Amanda, you are a Christian, don't you want to see 'Merry Christmas' instead of 'Happy Holidays' everywhere? This is your faith. Why are you betraying it?"

And to that thought, I responded that I would not like to see Merry Christmas everywhere if I am alienating others from celebrating a season that all can enjoy. I am not betraying Christmas by including others, and isn't that one of the tenets of Christ's teachings to bring all together under one banner? The big problem, however, is that it is going against Christ's banner.

It seems as if this season isn't about making particular claims about particular faiths (although each does); it is about finding light amid an ever-encroaching darkness, both literally and figuratively. Many faiths do this (unless the faith is to celebrate darkness), shouldn't we celebrate this relative commonality, rather than douse icy water on it?

As for the money-making end of this matter, Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays, there is much at stake here. The retailing audience is everyone, and as much as Americans want to believe it, we are not the homogeneous mass, as seen in our own small environments.

As for me, it is Merry Christmas in my heart, and to everyone I meet. It is still a Christmas tree, and Christ still lives in this season for me, but I am willing to see the other side and the benefits of acknowledging everyone's understanding as tolerable--at least.

My faith is exclusivist, and I've been dealing with the nature of my religious understanding for years now. I still haven't made many concrete decisions; however, it is times like this and in issues like this, that our colors show. My banner is a bright red and green at the moment, with a few unfinished seams.

Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. Stoke up a fire and stay warm. Love someone, find your light and live it. The titles should not matter.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at December 17, 2005 1:48 PM | TrackBack
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