23
Dec
08

Merry Christmas, or whatever

Yeah, I know, I said I wouldn’t post until after the first of the year, but this is important to me, so here you go…

Recently, a woman came into my store asking for some help picking out cigars for her husband, which she informed me would be part of his Christmas present.  She was a pleasant, educated woman in her thirties, with red hair and freckles.  When it came time to pay, I noticed the name on her credit card was “O’Brien”.  Feeling that I was on safe ground here, I wished the woman “Merry Christmas” as I handed her credit card back to her.

From the look she gave me, you would have thought I’d told her to go fuck herself.

What is wrong with people nowadays?  Yes, I’m all in favor of cultural sensitivity. There is a time and a place for “Happy Holidays”.   Had this woman not been so obviously Irish, (or had not informed me that the cigars were a CHRISTMAS present) I might have retreated to the safety of that vapid phrase.

But when did “Merry Christmas” become the semantic equivalent of an insult?

Sometimes I think it’s just laziness.  By saying “Happy Holidays”, people give themselves a cheap way out.  After all, taking the time to find out which holiday the person actually celebrates, and then wishing them the appropriate compliments of the season, only takes a modicum of time and effort, and yet even this seems to much trouble in our increasingly impersonal, desensitized world.

And by the same token, what is there to get so uptight about, anyway?  If a Jew wished me “Happy Hanukkah”, I know I’m not going to get all bent out of shape over it.  I would simply take it in the friendly spirit in which it was intended and wish him “Happy Hanukkah” in return.

I do not know if the man known as Jesus of Nazareth was divine. I do not know if he performed miracles. I do not know if he was resurrected from the dead.

And I’m not sure I even care.

What I do know is that he preached a message of love, tolerance, peace, and forgiveness at a time when his people were looking for a leader who would overthrow the Romans and return Israel to its former glory. I know he was spurned by the religious establishment of his day.  And I know that he really, really, pissed off the government. Like so many who came after him, he was murdered because he would not back down from saying things he felt needed to be said, even to the point of surrendering his own life in the process.

Imagine what the world would be like if people really did live their lives the way Jesus of Nazareth extolled us to: love your neighbor, forgive your enemies, judge not lest you be judged.

If one can grasp those ideas, then one has truly grasped the very real meaning of Christmas. And so, whatever your beliefs, please allow me to wish you a very Merry Christmas.

-Stephen P. Smith

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15 Responses to “Merry Christmas, or whatever”


  1. December 23, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    Merry Christmas. It is a shame that people get so bent out of shape over those two little words. Sure it is a religious holiday that was co-opted from the pagans. But if one day a year people could suck it up and be nice to each other. It would be one hell of a start.

  2. December 24, 2008 at 8:39 am

    Merry Christmas, Smith! You’re right on! For several years, I wouldn’t even say Happy Holidays. The pagans take offense, atheists get pissed, and everyone else just seems more concerned with commercial Christmas. So, I just stopped saying it altogether for awhile. This year, I don’t care.

  3. December 24, 2008 at 9:33 am

    Merry Christmas to you Mr Smith. Tis Christmas day here in Oz, so I’m doing the rounds…don’t be letting the ghost of Christmas grab you now will you? Please pass our best wishes to your family as well if you would?
    Hope your day is brilliant!
    🙂

  4. December 24, 2008 at 11:39 am

    Merry Christmas, Smith! 😀

  5. December 24, 2008 at 12:49 pm

    Merry Christmas, Smith!

  6. 6 Sam
    December 24, 2008 at 10:09 pm

    Merry Christmas, Smith!

  7. December 25, 2008 at 8:36 pm

    Merry Christmas my dear Smith, hope you got my late message.

    For once, I have absolutely nothing to contest with your lines. I agree.

    S.

  8. December 31, 2008 at 10:19 am

    Ha, two comments in a row!

    Ok, seems I’m turning into the ‘lousy’ blogger that you are! 😉 Hardly around.
    I hope you had a great Xmas break and now I’m left to wish you and your family all the very best for 2009. If I may add another wish: please keep your poems coming, I can wait in anticipation but don’t let me starve, yes?

    I know you’ve had a rough one in 2008, so rejoice, 2009 is just around the corner!

    Big hug your way,

    Spaz

  9. January 4, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    Happy New Year… Hope you had great holidays…

  10. January 6, 2009 at 9:02 pm

    Okay, new year! I wish the best for you and yours.
    Now, can you come out and play?

  11. 11 Andy
    January 12, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    A very belated Merry Christmas to you my friend. Our ideas and ideals parallel a lot and at this point of my life I don’t really care who I piss off. Say it like it is and should be. MERRY CHRISTMAS.
    And I wish You and Yours a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. With lots of time to relax, play, and most of all contemplate with a fine cigar or pipe.

  12. January 14, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    So you’re still not back? What the hell are you doing?

  13. January 14, 2009 at 10:58 pm

    I might have retreated to the safety of that vapid phrase.

    Why is it vapid? It wishes the best to you, whatever your beliefs (and there are a lot of them – not just those of Christians and Jews) at that time of year. I suppose you will reply that it comes back to your comment that “taking the time to find out which holiday the person actually celebrates, and then wishing them the appropriate compliments of the season, only takes a modicum of time and effort”.

    Really? In some instances you are correct. But in most, it’s highly awkward. Look at your example of being at a store and ringing up a purchase. Try to imagine how you might have gone about figuring out the woman’s particular beliefs with a modicum of effort (admittedly, this woman was being silly if she already said she was buying a Christmas present. But how about for anyone else?)

    Hope your winter holidays were wonderful.

  14. 14 The Rev.
    January 19, 2009 at 5:55 pm

    Coudn’ta said it better myself, Smitty…

  15. March 28, 2009 at 5:33 am

    As always, it’s so refreshing to meet someone else who opposes political correctness, as I do! The only politically correct term I use is “Native American”, because it is accurate (they really were here first) and less confusing in today’s world (with the increased awareness and emergence of actual Indians). Everything else politically correct goes down my toilet. I’m not Christian, though I was raised so. Still, I take no offense at “Merry Christmas” either. In fact, I take offense at the term, “Xmas”–what’s the point of referring to a holiday at all (whatever your beliefs), if you don’t refer to it properly?


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