Happy Holidays

We are well into the holiday season and I am being accosted by otherwise good customers that I should have a “Merry Christmas.”

I was brought up in the Jewish tradition and worked for my father in our retail bicycle store. I never celebrated the Christian holiday as a kid nor as an adult. About 30-years ago, I deconverted and today proclaim myself as an atheist and still do not celebrate Christmas.

My customers do not know my background unless they ask. Even then, I may not say much to discourage or annoy them. I usually do not know their religious affiliation and do not care one way or another.

If believing in the supernatural makes one happy and that person practices the positive aspects of that religion than who am I to complain.

However, I find it disingenuous to hear people repeat “Merry Christmas” after I wish them a happy holiday season. It’s like they are trying to make it a point that they are Christians and want everyone to know it. Much like hanging a cross around their necks.

(And the bigger the cross the more religious they are.)

At least my medical provider had the sense to wish me a “happy winter” after I told her that I do not celebrate Christmas.

We know that the so-called war on Christmas is being perpetrated by the Christian-right. There are no rules that say you cannot say “Merry Christmas.” None that prohibit the raising and lighting of a Christmas tree. Nothing that prevents one from going to church to celebrate the birth of their savior. It is all made up by the Christian-right so they can have a bad guy to fight.

Some of my co-workers know my religious preferences, that I am an atheist. Some on Facebook and Twitter are the same. I rarely get trolled for being an atheist. The only person who would confront me about my non-religious life was my sister, who called me a “so-called atheist.” I usually shrugged that off knowing that she was not enlightened.

I belong to a Facebook group titled “The Bible & Beer Consortium.” It is full of atheists, and agnostics but mostly Christians and is based in an Evangelical church in Texas. I asked the group if they greet a stranger with Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays? There are individuals who don’t see “Merry Christmas” as anything more than a friendly greeting. They do not understand that Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and people of other non-Abrahamic faiths would like to hear recognition of their own sacred days. Without looking it up, when is Chanukah this year? Or Ramadan in 2020?

I am upset when a business does not recognize religious holidays other than Christmas during the winter season. Almost every one of the world religions has a holiday that centers on the winter solstice. Yes, many are minor holidays and some from religions that no longer exist, but still, need to be recognized in a general winter greeting.

One of my Facebook friends said of wishing everyone a “Merry Christmas” that, “If they already share your faith, it will be a zero sum. If they don’t, it will be yet another reminder that they do not belong in this society.” OK, this is not about game theory, but I get her point. It becomes an “us versus them” comment to some.

Mark 12: 29 – 31 says it best:

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

So Happy Holidays to all of my readers and I hope you have a joyous, healthy and positive New Year.

About David Rosman

David is the winner of the Missouri Press Foundation's "Best Columnist" in 2013 (First Place) and 2014 (Second Place), the 2016 Harold Riback Award for excellence in writing, and the winner of the 2007 Interactive Media Award for excellence in editing.
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