Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Ooops

This fake "War on Christmas" brouhaha that Fox News and the right wing punditocracy is promoting is giving me fits. Like most people of my generation, I never gave a second thought as to what is the appropriate thing to say when greeting people this time of year. I said whatever popped into my head, which was usually "Merry Christmas." If I knew that the person with whom I was speaking was of some non-Christian religious tradition, I might say, "Happy Holidays," or "Have a good holiday," or something along those lines, but I wasn't consistent about it.

Now Bill O'Reilly and Fox News have me so confused that I don't know what to say. If I say, "Merry Christmas," I'm afraid the other person will think I'm a right wing zealot that is making a point of being in their face about my holiday greetings. If I say, "Happy Holidays," I'm afraid the other person will think I'm being anti-Christian.

Ironically, growing up in an ultra-religious tradition, we rarely said "Merry Christmas." If an English person said it to us, we might say it back out of politeness. The Amish recognized Christmas as the essentially pagan holiday that it is. Christ wasn't born on December 25, 2005 years ago; the date is an adaptation of a Roman celebration honoring Saturn, the god of agriculture. The idea that the way to celebrate the birth of Jesus, whose essential teaching was give away everything that you have; rich people cannot enter the kingdom of heaven, is by Buying Things is absurd. For many retailers, 80 percent of their entire annual sales are done in the Christmas season. That fact alone should make true Christians abhore any connections between Christmas and Christianity.

If Faux News and Bill O'Reilly really wanted to promote Christianity, they should try to promote a new saying, "Stop Spending."

As for me, I'm becoming more Buddhist. My holiday greeting from now is going to be "Be Merry."


Anonymous said...

Or just "BE"

I have found that no matter what greeting or comment that might be expressed or what the deep or superficial intent might be contained within; no matter how well prepared, off the cuff, slip of the tongue or carefully chosen words that come out of a human mouth there's a perception that cannot be anticipated on the part of the listener. Anyone who takes offense may well be the narrow minded guilty party if the greeter had no malicious intent and wished to do no more than pass along the greeting that suits his or her seasonal salutation. I've had plenty of Jewish people wish me a Merry Christmas and plenty of other people wish Happy Holidays with no intention of expressing a religious preference.

Jarrett said...

Thank you for writing this. I am in complete agreement. It is a totally fabricated controversy. Notice they cite random instances of anti-religious and anti-christmas bigotry from around the country...these incidents are so sparse they should be written off as just idiots being idiots...but O'Reilly et al. blow these incidents up into proof that there is a secular conspiracy to undermine the holiday. Drives me NUTS.