Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Celebrating Our Better Natures

For me, Christmas merriment begins the day after Thanksgiving. Our friends, the Gore family, come to visit that weekend, and their arrival ushers in the festivities. We cut down our Christmas tree; the Christmas lights go up; and Christmas music floats on the air for the next four weeks. Everyone you meet seems more patient, more understanding, and more caring. Peace on earth and goodwill toward one another shimmers all around the world. Briefly each year, we celebrate our better natures and glimpse what heaven might be like.

But one verbal mine is hidden below the surface, and it can explode all the goodwill with just two words: Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays. Already the "war" has begun. On my Facebook page, I am greeted with "let's keep Christ in Christmas," and the gauntlet is thrown down for the unwary agnostic, atheist, Wiccan, Buddhist, Muslim, or whatever other believer in a non-Christian faith to pick up, and someone always picks it up, whereupon a heated exchange of words takes place. For the life of me, I do not understand why expressing goodwill towards one another, regardless of the phrasing, can instead bring about an absence of goodwill. It is counterintuitive.

While I do not wish to belittle anyone, at the risk of doing so, the whole phrasing thing is silly. If there is God and Jesus is our Savior, which I personally believe, I doubt either one gives a hoot about how we express goodwill to one another. God doesn't need anyone to keep Christ in Christmas. He doesn't need defending. Good heavens, he's God after all. When we get on our high horse about keeping "Christ in Christmas," we aren't defending Christ, we are being sanctimonious prigs, and we are creating distance, when God wants us to be close. God wants us to get along with one another anyway we can. So if we who believe in God have a hissy fit about someone saying "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas," it is we who need an attitude change to become more gracious and tolerant because we are supposed to be reflecting a loving God.

Furthermore, you individuals who prefer to say "Happy Holidays" should not make it illegal to say "Merry Christmas." That is just as nutty and just as disparaging to Christians as Christians have been to you. It is not a legal battle we should be waging with one another; rather, we should be appreciating that both phrasings are ways of sharing with one another the spirit of love and joy that the season represents. We need to understand that we are saying essentially the same thing--peace on earth and goodwill to everyone. And we should smile in agreement, reach out a hand, hug, and cherish the brief time each year that we feel connected to one another, no matter how we express that connection.

So this year and every year between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I shall merrily go about my days saying "Merry Christmas" to you, and I look forward to hearing "Happy Holidays" along with various other greetings from my Wiccan, Jewish, Buddhist, and Muslim friends because, bottom line, what we all want is to celebrate our better natures and bring Peace on Earth and Goodwill to all at Christmas time and all the year long.

Merry Christmas


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