Friday, November 25, 2011

And so it begins...

Thanksgiving has officially passed in the USA, which means the Christmas season is upon us.  It's no secret that Christmas is not my favorite holiday.  That honor goes to Easter, which is 134 days away. I couldn't tell you how many days it is until Christmas, just that I have to endure Christmas before we can get to Easter.  Christmas is important.  Without Christmas, we couldn't have Easter.  I get it and I appreciate it.  But I struggle with Christmas.  To my knowledge it is a holiday fraught with more controversy and consumerism than any other holiday.
In North America, consumerism is a problem in general, but come Christmas Season things get even more out of hand.  The very thought of "Black Friday" gives me shivers.  I purposely stay away from all places of retail on the Friday following Thanksgiving.  I don't want to brave the crowds for a possible deal.  It's not worth it.  Nearly every year I read about people being injured or even killed in the melee.  Is it really worth it?
And then there is "Christmas Controversy" or perhaps it is better named the "Seasonal Controversy" even though that doesn't sound as nice (no alliteration).
What is the appropriate way to greet someone during this season between Thanksgiving and December 25?  It seems that no matter what you choose to say you run the risk of offending someone, even if that is not what you intended. I'm a Christian and I tend to say "Merry Christmas", because for me, this season is Christmas.  I have friends who are Jewish.  For them it is Hanukkah season.  I have friends who have no religious affiliation.  For them, it's simply the holiday season.  There are many other groups that have specific holidays this time of year, I just don't know them.  It's not that I don't care to know them, I just don't know them yet.  I'm forever learning and I'm okay with that.
If someone where to say "Happy Holidays" to me, I'd smile and reply either in kind or with "Merry Christmas".  I would take no offense and would hope that they would take no offense, for no offense would be intended.
What bothers me and even offends me at times is people who insist on only their view being accepted and refuse to accept others.  I speak both of people/groups who are in the "Merry Christmas" camp and of those who are in other various camps such as "Happy Holidays" and "Seasons Greetings" and "Happy Hanukkah" and everything else.  Both sides can be insistent and insistence on either side bothers me.  Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs and their own way of celebrating the season as long as it does no harm to others (I'd hazard a guess that entitlement ends if it involves damage to another or to property of another).
It bothers me that people can live peaceable with one another throughout the year only to come to irreconcilable differences from the end of November until the end of December.
This post was spurred by a video sent to me by a well meaning family member.  I love him dearly and don't intent to speak poorly of him, but I could not agree with the message in the video. It was called "Say Merry Christmas".  The video is here  and it has lyrics on the video.  The basic message of the video is to avoid merchants who don't post "Merry Christmas" in their stores and who don't greet people with "Merry Christmas".  From their website (  they say "patronize only the stores that celebrate the true meaning of Christmas." The creators of the song complain about how the "Every Christmas, the media and PC police tell us, the Christian majority, what we can do and say to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. If you've had "enough" of this biased propaganda and believe in the true meaning of Christmas…now's your chance to fight back and bring Christ back into Christmas."
If that's how they feel, then fine, they may feel that way.  What bothered me most was their hypocrisy  They complain about being told how they can celebrate this season, and in their song they sing "Please don't tell me what to say or what music I can play", yet the entire song is telling people how they think this season should be celebrated. If the song was in first-person all the way through, it wouldn't bug me, but it's not. It's in a form whose name I can't remember right now that is more instructional or command like.
Sometimes I wish people like this would take their own advice. Live and let live.
Maybe I'm too passive, maybe I'm too pluralistic, but it's who I am. There are bigger battles to fight and better ways to go about them.
Just my opinion, which of course is naturally biased by me being me rather than a completely impartial third party.

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