Happy Holidays!

December 13th, 2016 | Categories: Uncategorized

Dear Reader,

I don’t know what holiday you celebrate in December/January. Nonetheless, I wanted to wish you good cheer during this time. I, therefore, have four options if I were to consider communicating a message with positive thoughts to you at this time of year without knowing more about you.

1) I can say Happy Holidays, which is a generic broad phrase that is inclusive of any seasonal event at this time of year in American culture.

2) I can take time, if I have it, to ask you what holiday you celebrate at this time of year and, then, say best wishes for that specific event. Of course, I don’t have much time and neither do you, so this option happens infrequently.

3) I can say to you the wish I would like to receive. In my case this would be Happy Holidays, Happy New Year, or Merry Christmas because the first is generic and the latter two expressions of good cheer are based on the ones I celebrate.

Any of these options are sufficient to indicate my desire to provide you with positive thoughts at this time of year. None of these need be viewed as taking away your right to celebrate the holiday of your choice. None of these, by virtue of a single person doing it, kills your holiday or violates your rights to celebrate any holiday you wish.

Some would have you think that saying, “Happy Holidays” is tantamount to being a soldier in the war on Christmas. Others might say that unless you can know which holiday someone is celebrating, you are not being inclusive by merely saying, “Merry Christmas” as a generic. Indeed, it is not a generic and only reifies the privilege of the majority religious group in American culture. They may argue that, instead, perhaps the more inclusive “Happy Christmahanakwanzika!” is warranted.

Some might be frustrated with these extremes and opt to choose a fourth option instead of the three previously mentioned:

4) I can decide not to say anything because I do not want to offend you accidentally. This would counteract the intended positivity I had hoped to generate by wishing you good cheer at this time of year.

While number 4 would not be my choice, I can respect a person’s wish to opt out of expressing holiday cheer.

However, there are two things you should NOT do this time of year.

First, do not respond to someone’s positivity with a tirade about how your rights are being violated. Save that conversation for those you can convince, rather than bothering those who you will only alienate.

Second, do not assume what someone celebrates based on what they look like. Saying Happy Kwanzaa to someone who is black, as a student of mine recently mentioned happens to him frequently, doesn’t make sense. To put it in perspective, it makes as much sense as saying, “Happy Hanukkah” to someone who looks stereotypically Jewish. And I know you know better than to do that.

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