“Happy holidays!” is an easy term to express cheer from roughly Thanksgiving through the new year. Of course, in 2013 – as usual – it garnered attention as being anti-Christmas and somehow offensive, instead of being a general wish of good cheer in the winter.
A picture that made rounds on Facebook is of a sign in a tree lot. The sign reads, “Christmas Trees $5.00 per ft. Holiday Trees $10.00 per ft.” This sign is an example of the unnecessary hate “happy holidays” gets this time of year.
I will happily say I come at this as an atheist who is frequently critical of the capitalism and consumerism that loves Christmas. I do the tree, the lights, the presents, the loved ones, the food, the turtleneck sweaters, the Eartha Kitt songs and the Christmas movies. I do not, and I cannot, understand why people insist on being told “merry Christmas” instead of “happy holidays.”
I get this much. If a holiday is celebrated for religious reasons, it is important to those who observe it and they would like to see it recognized. That is completely fair. Showing it through observance with friends and family, religious groups and practice is super.
However, expecting a stranger, like an employee at your local bookstore or grocery store, to correctly guess a religious background and choice of holiday celebration is ridiculous.
It is not easy to tell if someone celebrates Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Festivus, Boxing Day, Yule, the 12 Days of Christmas, the Gregorian New Year’s, Thanksgiving, the occasional Tết Nguyên Đán or Ramadan that falls in December – or one of the many other holidays this time of year.
Religious and cultural tolerance is part of why “happy holidays” is practical to say, but, in my eyes, the bigger part is convenience. I celebrate three holidays in November and December. “Happy holidays” just as easily is a wish for a good Thanksgiving, Christmas and Gregorian New Year’s as it is for any holiday or combination thereof.
It may be late, since the holiday season has already passed, but here’s an extremely early wish for “happy holidays” and good cheer in 2014.