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Merry Christmas

So, every year, as December rolls around, the parade of gift-giving, decorating, buying, good cheer and good wishes starts, in holidays that beside Christmas are for the most part retrieved from half-forgotten lore, refurbished and pushed forward, in a burst of “metooism” which the now ubiquitous hashtag has brought into the mainstream. So Jews celebrate Hanukah, African-Americans celebrate Kwanza, Iranians celebrate Yalda, etc.  In the society at large, respect of diversity wreaks havoc and noble intentions get out of hand.

It says a lot about the limited ways our minds work if, as soon as a tribe has a holy, sacred, or cultural milestone, every other tribe considers it its right to come up with one of its own. fra-angelico-nativityThings are even more difficult when, disciplined as we have become and aware of the possible messages underlying our use of language or expressions that used to go without saying, we become wary of using anything that would smack of sectarianism or not include everyone, and that is everyone, lest we insult, offend, or leave out a meritorious member of the human race. Thus, we will bite our tongue before saying “Merry Christmas,” having repeatedly been hit on the head with the concept that Christmas is a white-only, descendent of slave holders only, knights of the crusades or oppressive colonialists only.

Actually, Christmas is Christmas, the birth of Christ–or considered as such, no one really knowing the exact date or even if the man thus celebrated ever was what we are told he was. For Christians to celebrate the day (with, beside perfunctory attendance at a religious service, too much food, unending treks to stores, and a hefty negative balance on credit cards to show for it) is not meant as an insult to non-Christians. And no, despite conniptions by the awful Trump, it is not the sole purview of the no-less awful Republicans. Democrats can be Christian, independents can be Christian, people who never vote and even those who couldn’t care less about government can be Christian.

Yet there is that uneasy feeling that creeps upon one at year end. Am I excluding someone, am I ignoring the fact that people are different, belong to different faiths, have different beliefs and are equally worthy, for crying out loud? Whom did I disparage today, while meaning to be friendly or neighborly, by congratulating them on a religious holiday not part of their culture, by forcing Christmas on them and excluding them by not recognizing their own celebration?

This is what our present non-culture has reduced us to, with the exasperating flood of awards, points, stars, medals, contests, in which we smother children from their youngest age and continue as they grow up into adulthood, telling them and showing them that no one deserves to receive anything if not every single child or person does, without  questioning the fact that if everyone is equally rewarded, no  one is and if everyone celebrates, no celebration is a special occasion.

So, to counter the hesitation that wells up in us this time of the year, I have a suggestion.  Instead of doing the reasonable thing, which is to let each particular segment of society celebrate whatever they have to celebrate according to the calendar, no matter their creed or lack thereof, let’s do everything all the time, as we are gearing up to more and more. When the Muslim Eid arrives, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Taoists, Celtic polytheists and Wiccas can all find an equivalent. Same with Rosh Hashana, or the birth of the Bab for Bahais, and so forth. Let’s train ourselves to remember all the occasions and use the appropriate greetings, cards and presents so as not to leave anyone out or offend our thin-skinned fellow humans by error or omission.

This solution should prove satisfactory to all, except to people like myself who don’t find appealing the dilution of the unique into a single shapeless glob.

Categories: Religion, Society Tags: ,
  1. jonathan smith
    December 25, 2017 at 4:23 pm

    I agree with you…for me, at least, all of this ¨social correctness¨ is a bit unnerving…to the point that I actually say less and less to whomever, on whatever religious occasion….which is bowing to the forces around me, I know…but it is all so touchy touchy that I have decided to pretty much just let it all drop….

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