Merry, Happy — Peace to All


I don’t understand when people get so annoyed when someone says “Happy Holiday”   or any other December greeting except, “Merry Christmas?”  Why the concern?  No one is stopping you from saying “Merry Christmas,”   “Happy Hannaku,”  “Haberi Gani” or “Happy Holidays — it’s your choice.

There are people who don’t believe in celebrating the birth of or divinity of Jesus.  And they may not want to celebrate the Christian extravaganza of American consumerism. They may celebrate a different holiday or none.  About 17% of Americans are non-Christian; about 25% of Christians are married to non believers or members of other religious groups.  Imagine kids being brought up by a Jewish and a Christian parent. This year Hannauka and Christmas fall at the same time.  Do we mandate a greeting for them.  Or do we allow them (and their parents) to decide if and when to give what holiday greeting to whom?

Of course Donald Trump had his say on the controversy: “But Christmas came early this year. President-elect Donald Trump made his position clear in June, and many times since: “Boy, do I mean it—we’re going to be saying ‘Merry Christmas,’ ” he told a group of evangelical leaders in New York. (He made a similar promise last year, when he also suggested boycotting Starbucks after the coffee chain abandoned its traditional holiday cup design.)”  Andrew McGill, The Atlantic.

We can probably give a lot of thanks for the “Christmas Greeting Wars” to Bill O’Rielly and Fox News.  Bill was raised a Catholic in the days when the Church was “the one true church.”  Only Catholics (not Christians, mind you) could go to heaven.  Maybe I exaggerate (there were exceptions) but from my perspective as an Catholic elementary school student in the 1950s, this was gospel — and frightening.  Guess I, like Bill, was lucky to be born in the “one true church.”  So Bill champions the right of people to say, “Merry Christmas.”  Thanks but, the first amendment guarantees me that right and guarantees the right of my neighbor (or myself) to say “Happy Holidays.”  No thanks, Bill.

And then this year we are fed a story that a Lancaster, PA school canceled a performance of Christmas Carol because parents complained about Tiny Tim’s “God Bless.”

“But last week a local TV station ran a story suggesting that the play had been canceled because of two parents’ objections to the famous Tiny Tim line, “God bless us, everyone.” The piece reported that Centerville Elementary School officials said the complaint did cause them to give the play a second thought. Fox News and Breitbart picked up on it and ran with it, after which the school received more than 200 calls and emails.”  Colby Itkowitz, Washington Post.  Uh, do we thank the God patrol, Fox News and Breitbart.  I don’t think so.

” In a letter sent to parents on Dec. 15, and a subsequent question and answer posted on the school’s website, the school principal categorically denied that the play was canceled this year because of any parents’ complaints, but rather that school officials had determined that preparing for the play would take up too much academic time.  “One rumor we’ve been addressing is that one or two families influenced this decision,” wrote Tom Kramer, Centerville Elementary School principal. “That’s just not true. The instructional time issue was our primary concern.” In the FAQ the school posted, Kramer said there was no religious complaint made about the play.”  Colby Itkowitz, Washington Post.

The story  gets more complex.  A Jewish family may have been blamed for the cancellation.  Children threatened.  They felt it best to get out of town for the holidays.  “Merry Christmas” from our friends at Fox News and Breitbart.  The  best news is fake news.

Mr. Trump, Fox News, Bill O’Rielly,  Breitbart, and all those that feel there is a war on Christmas.  Relax, take a deep breath, the economy is healthy, sales are good, particularly on the Internet.  God is in his place.  And it’s suppose to be sunny, a beautiful day to be with family, attend a religious service if it’s your belief, take a walk, enjoy a traditional meal, and you can wish people Merry Christmas, Happy Hannauka, Haberi Gani, (Swahili for Kwanza Greeting), or  Happy Holidays.  I’ve always said whatever I feel appropriate and will continue to do so – “Peace to everyone this holiday season.”





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