Tuesday, December 21, 2010
If someone says "Merry Christmas" to me, of course I'll say it back, but "Happy Holidays" is my default greeting. Why? There are two main reasons.
1) There are at least five late-December/early-January holidays: winter equinox (the original "reason for the season"), Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and New Year's Day. (And there more in other countries, e.g., Boxing Day in several British Commonwealth countries, the Emperor's Birthday in Japan, etc., plus religious celebrations such as the Hindu festival Pancha Ganapati). Even if we only count American legal holidays, there are two, Christmas and New Year's.
So when I wish someone "Happy Holidays," I'm expressing my hope that they will have an enjoyable holiday season, no matter which of those holidays they celebrate or observe.
Because 2) I try not to be the kind of person who would insist on using greetings specific to holidays I celebrate without knowing or caring if the people I'm greeting do so too. And I try not to be the kind of self-centered, self-important douchebag who not only would do that, but would also insist that everyone else use my greeting too.
I would have thought that trying to be kind and considerate of other people's feelings, trying to include people, and trying to treat them the way they'd want to be treated would be sort of the default position. I'd have thought that that would just be the obvious way for people to treat each other. I'd even have thought that that would be especially true for Christians, whose god taught that they should do to others what they'd prefer to have done to themselves. I'd never have thought that there was actually something wrong with trying to be nice by saying "Happy Holidays."
But I guess that was naive of me. I suppose it must be Asperger's syndrome that causes me to make mistakes like trying to be kind to others during the holiday season.
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