A while back, I was out purchasing some postage stamps at the local pack-and-ship store, and I asked for some holiday stamps. The clerk, a tall, pimply-faced fellow with lanky, dark hair, brought out some stamps with a reproduction of a Renaissance nativity painting.
I took one look, thought of the ones on my December card receiving list, and said, "No, thanks. Don't you have some stamps with some generic holiday pictures on them? Like ornaments or stars or something?"
The clerk got all flustered, his face turned redder, and he snapped, "Why do people have to get all P.C. at this time of year? Why can't we say 'Merry Christmas' and not be afraid of offending someone?"
Point well taken, but perhaps I do care about offending someone. Why do I need to require everyone in my life to adopt a strictly Christian point of view?
I know some people don't care for the term "Happy Holidays." I often wonder at that, and ask myself if it's because they suffer from a kind of religious myopia. After all, December is a time of celebration for many faiths. For example, the Pagans/Wiccans celebrate the Yule on the solstice (December 22 this year), some Buddhists celebrate Bodhi day (December 8), Muslims celebrate Ashura (December 5), Jews celebrate Hannukah (which started on December 21), and Christians celebrate the birth of Christ (December 25). Then there's Kwanzaa starting on December 26. That's a lot of celebrating!
Perhaps my clerk friend hasn't stopped to think of what "Happy Holidays" really means. It comes from the contraction for Happy Holy Days. These are the days we set apart as "having a divine quality," as Merriam-Webster says. We celebrate the holiness that exists in all of life, and give gifts to each other, as if recognizing the divinity in the receiver. It is a time of adoration and peace, of love and laughter, of sharing the best of ourselves with those we love most in this world. If that's not celebrating Holy Days, then what is?
Happy Holidays, my friends.