Sunday, December 2, 2012

Happy Homogenized Holidays

A friend of mine on Facebook posted this on her wall:

I know her well enough to know she did not mean this as an insult to Christians. Yes, she and I hold very different political and religious views, but she has never been anything less than kind, caring, and someone who strives to live peacefully with everyone.

I considered posting my reply directly on her wall, but felt like I'd have wanted to ramble--and I believe that one should ramble on one's own turf.

So, here's my take on it:

There is NOTHING wrong with "Happy Holidays." And I would bet that every word on that image about the history of the phrase is true.

The problem, though, is that it does exactly the opposite of its intent. Well, THESE DAYS is does.

Let me explain.

The roots of the word point back to "holy days" of which Christmas is one, so there's nothing wrong with that.

But now, these days, the term has a different meaning. What it means is, "I don't want to offend any particular person...I want to be politically I will give a generic and meaningless greeting."

Is this how every person uses the phrase? No. But enough people and businesses have forced that saying down our throats, to the point that it has come to symbolize that attitude to many of us.

And let me clarify. I am not saying this because I think the pagans have stolen our holy day, nor that I have any issue with Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or any other religious or cultural holiday (holy day) out there that happens to fall around this time of year.


The point of saying "Happy Holidays" is to supposedly promote diversity. But what it does is labels us all the same. There is a huge difference between individuality and inequality. My holiday and your holiday have very different meanings. Mine is special to me for specific reasons, and yours to you for specific reasons. "Happy Holidays" takes away our individuality in an attempt at removing inequality.

It homogenizes us.

What I wish is that we could all use our chosen holiday greetings and just not be offended. If someone wishes me "Happy Hanukkah," I am not going to get all bent out of shape. I'm going to take it as them saying something to me that holds very special meaning to them. And if I say "Merry Christmas" to you, and you don't happen to believe in Christmas, then can't you accept that I am saying something to you that holds very special meaning to me? Can't you take it as the gift I intend it?

And if we all did that, then those who do use "Happy Holidays" would be doing the same and the rest of us would not feel as though the phrase was meant to snuff out our personal holiday expressions.

Despite its innocent and well-meaning roots, these days "Happy Holidays" gets used so we don't fuss and fight over whose holiday is the most special.

But what it really does is say that no one's is special at all.


Kessie said...

*applause* Hear hear! I've never heard this argument before, but I think it makes lots of sense. :-)

Kat Heckenbach said...

Thanks, Kessie!

Carol Linsky said...

My first thought was "Bravo" - very well said! For several years at work I've made a point of saying, Merry Christmas, and it's been amazing how many people have responded the same or told me how glad they were that I said that. People are getting tired of having to be "pc" because it's taken away the meaning and "specialness" of everything.

Kat Heckenbach said...

Thank you :).

Sparks of Ember said...

Exactly! Very well said!

Kat Heckenbach said...

Thank you!