This is from my "other" blog. http://j9kovac.livejournal.com/28795.html
It's from last year, but I came across it again today and discovered that I rather like it. I have a theory that I was a better writer back when I didn't write as often and I must say that this post proves the point.
Maybe it’s just my corner of the world. We say things like “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings.” But no one will wish you a “Merry Christmas.” We just don’t talk like that in these parts. But I mean, we all know what those greetings of the season are, right? They are “Merry Christmas” and “Happy New Year.” So why can’t I just say that instead of alluding to it? It’s like calling your Uncle Benny “you know, fastidious.” The man has a life-size cut out of Barbara Streisand in his sewing room. It’s ok to call him gay. He knows.
I get that not every one celebrates Christmas but so what? I don’t celebrate Cinco de Mayo but you don’t see me yelling at drunk white people on May 5th telling them “Mexico’s Independence Day is September 16th, huero!” I let them have their fun. I let it go.
I get that there are other important religious holidays in December. Certainly, Hanukkah, which gets billed to non-Jewish kids as “but they get presents, too,” (Because it’s very troublesome to think that there are some kids who are neither on Santa’s nice list nor his naughty list.)
Ramadan is around here, too, although I know they have a different calendar system that doesn’t always match up with the rest of the December religious holidays (much in the same way that the World Series doesn’t always match up with Halloween). Ramadan used to get a lot of press back in the 20th century, back when it was a priority to be culturally sensitive to Islam. Not so much these days when the Koran is talked about as if it’s synonymous with “al Qaeda Instruction Manual.”
Then there’s Kwanza. I have no idea what Kwanza is, or who celebrates it. Judging from the Kwanza stamps at the post office, it seems to be a holiday for black people, who, as far as I know, celebrate Christmas.
Listen folks, I live in a place where election ballots are printed in six languages. (English, Spanish, Mandarin, Vietnamese, Tagalog, and Korean). We’re no strangers to different cultures celebrating different ideas. And yet, I have never met anyone who has celebrated Kwanza. Maybe it’s like the “Santa” of the holidays—we pretend it exists, but it really doesn’t. Yes, Virginia, there is a Kwanza.
But if someone wished me a Happy Kwanza, I’d be tickled. (Especially if it were celebrated with the doling out of candies—you know, like the rest of the American holidays: Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, Halloween, and Ch..ch..ch..christmas.) And hopefully, if I wished that person a Merry Christmas (and offered ‘em some candy), they’d smile and be tickled, too.
Because all of it—“Happy Hanukkah,” “Merry Christmas,” “Happy Kwanza Day,” “Have a Cheerful Winter,” etc—are all euphemisms for what we called in my day, Christmas spirit. A way to connect, human to human about wonderful human things like love, cheerfulness, gratitude, generosity, selflessness, bliss, and gratitude again, independent of the origin stories of virgins or lamp oil or the Kwanzanese. A way to say, “hey, the joy in me salutes the joy in you.”
Which, ironically, is how we end every yoga class.
So if I can’t say “Merry Christmas” without causing offense, I’ll just play it safe.