Saturday, December 22, 2012

From Our Family to Yours ~ The "Season's Greetings" Dilemma

I was raised Roman Catholic.  My grandparents were devout Catholics. Religion played a large role in our family.

I grew up with friends of various faiths, religions, and cultural backgrounds.

In college and university, most of the people I hung out with were Jewish. Being included in Seder dinners were the highlight of my year back then! I took everything in and marveled at the traditions different from my own. To this day, my friends know that if you share a knish, latke, matzo ball soup or gefilte fish with me, I'm your best friend forever.

I ended up marrying someone who belonged to the United Church. I thought my grandmother was going to be upset. I knew how pious she was. Her response when I told her Hubby was United was, "It's okay! We all believe in the same God."

My friends are Jewish, Muslim, Catholic, Anglican, United, Buddhist, Sikh, Hindu, Baha'i, etc. It never really mattered to any of us. Though religion and faith are a large part of who a person is or becomes, it does not define them. What matters most is the way people treat one another.

I realize writing all of those religions in the same sentence may anger some. I really don't mean to offend (and, I hope I'm not!) anyone by including everyone in the same sentence. To me, it's all about the person. It's the mutual respect and love for people as human beings.

Every December, I run into the same dilemma. How do I address the Holiday Season to people of various faiths and religions? I used to send out Christmas cards, but then some friends mentioned that they felt it offensive because they didn't celebrate Christmas. To me, it was more about the message of love and thanks...and also a simple "I'm thinking of you".

I started sending out Happy Hanukkah cards and Happy Kwanzaa cards, etc. I soon discovered it was too hard for me to keep up with all the different celebrations. I still wanted to let people know I was thinking of them, so I started sending out  generic/non-religious Happy Holidays cards.

It didn't sit right with me though. I felt that I wasn't celebrating the religion I believe in.

I do realize saying Merry Christmas to people on the street, at the bank, at the mall, and at restaurants may be a faux pas, because there are many who do not celebrate Christmas and may take offense. At the same time, is it okay to say Happy Christmuskkah or Merry Kwanzmaskkah? Hmmm...

I thought this Ben Stein commentary was interesting.  I even checked out some more Ben Stein info on Snopes (because I'm nerdy like that).

For me, no matter what your faith is or what you believe in, Merry Christmas to me means offering kindness and love to all. What are your thoughts?

 How do you greet people during the Holidays? What are your opinions on things like "the holiday tree instead of Christmas tree" or "Holiday party instead of Christmas party"?

To all of our friends and family: Our warmest wishes, whatever Holiday you are celebrating! Thank you for being part of our life here Life on Manitoulin and in real life.


stephanie said...

Hey Christine!

Although I do usually greet people with "Happy Holidays" now, just to be inclusive, I have a problem with Holiday Tree. That's not what it is. It's a Christmas Tree. That's it's NAME.

Even if you don't celebrate Christmas, I don't think that it should be offensive to you to call something by it's proper name, you know? I have lots of Jewish friends and even though I'm not Jewish, I still call it a Menorah, not a nine-branched candelabrum.

Ok, that's my two-cents worth. Hope I didn't offend anyone! LOL

Paula Schuck said...

This is an interesting discussion. This year I have been more than ever trying to be all encompassing and sensitive by stating Happy Holidays! Now the interesting thing for me this year though is that at least half the time, even occasionally when I say nothing first, I get a disgruntled kind of angry Merry Christmas back! Not really like a whole explanation or anything with it but sort of a snotty "I am going to say Merry Christmas and everyone who doesn't like that can kiss my arse type of tone." I have really noted this among all my sort of service circles and so forth. In some stores, ad just at the mechanics and so forth. It's odd. Like Happy Holidays Backlash!

Lee Pearson said...

Season's Greetings have become so hard lately. I don't want to offend anyone either. There was a big issue in my city because for as long as I can recall the city put up a sign that said "Merry Christmas". There were people who took issue with that so the city changed the sign to "Season's Greetings". Well, the people who liked "Merry Christmas" then had an issue with the "Season's Greetings" sign, sigh...I don't know what to say! Usually I wait until people say something to me and I will respond in the same way or say "Season's Greetings". Its so complicated. I just want people to be happy :)

Whispered Inspirations said...

I say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays. I think people make too much of a big deal over greetings. Say what you feel comfortable saying, it's the gesture that goes a long way.

Doris Calvert said...

Well I just had to give my opinion on this one because that's just me but here is my take on it, I am not a prejudiced person I have friends of all color and faiths and to me if you are good to me and respect me I will do the same, my friends and I have talked about this at length, my religion is saying Merry Christmas and always will be and I will not change that for anybody!!! I send out Christmas cards and if offends a friend then they can say so and it's one less card to write and one also would not be one of my friends, because if they sent me a card on the day they celebrate I would not be offended to be on their list but proud they thought of me in their time of celebration and if they can't do that then they do not respect me enough to be my friend. It's a tree, it's Christmas so it's a Christmas tree, as far as I am concerned people are getting ridiculous and touchy with words we use, in Canada as a whole we celebrate Christmas and people who live here should respect our traditions. In return we also can respect theirs! That's it did my rant:)

merinz said...

Seasons greetings to you my oldest blogging friend, and to your family. may you all have a happy and prosperous New year!

Erin D said...

I'm coming from the perspective of a complete agnostic here, but I think that regardless of what is said, the sentiment is the same. We just want, as you said, to let people know that we're thinking of them, so I say whatever pops into my head or reply in kind when greeted.

MommyMatter said...

We always say Merry Christmas, since that is what we celebrate! We try to be respectful to others if we know they don't celebrate but many always say Merry Christmas first so we just say back.

MERRY HO HO!!! Hope your family has a fabulous Christmas.

Insane Mamacita said...

I grew up Roman Catholic and married a United Church person as well (although he hasn't gone to church since he was a kid)!

I have a tough time with this as well. Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays. Either way, I think it is nice to wish someone something whatever they may believe.

Brandi Yee said...

We always say Merry Christmas but try to be respectful of others who wish not to be greeted that way. I personally don't find it offensive no matter how someone greets me during the holidays. Like you, I think of it as a "thinking of you" and wishing love and happiness :)

Erika E said...

I have found myself saying Happy Holidays more lately. I hear it more than Merry Christmas.

Christine McN said...

Good points all around. Don't think it's offensive at all :) I find myself using "Happy Holidays" more so than not too.

Christine McN said...

Happy Holidays Backlash. That *is* interesting! I know I say Happy Holidays, but where we live, 99% people celebrate Christmas and say "Merry Christmas". I try to be mindful of others, culturally sensitive, inclusive, and politically correct. I do find not everyone is of this mindset though!

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City girl moves to the country, falls in love, and marries a farmer. She tries to incorporate her city ways with her new country lifestyle and blogs to keep in touch with friends, family & students who live far, far away :) Can this city girl go country? Watch as she learns all sorts of exciting things about life on the farm and in a small rural community. *UPDATE* We are now parents! Our baby girl was born on Nov. 11, 2008 (at 28 weeks gestation- 12 weeks premature, but she's quite the trooper)!!!
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