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Jewish Journal

Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays

by Ilana Angel

December 16, 2011 | 8:49 am

I wished an older lady at Whole Foods Happy Holidays this week and was immediately reprimanded for not saying Merry Christmas.  She looked me straight in the eye and said something along these lines: It’s Christmas for Christ’s sake.  Just say it.  There are no other holidays now.  What are you talking about?  Merry Christmas!

She was probably in her 70’s and was perhaps having a bad day, but really?  I calmly looked at her and said it was in fact a holiday season with Hanukkah, Kwanza, New Year’s and Christmas.  She then asked if I was a Jew.  I started laughing for some reason, told her I was, wished her a Happy Holiday again, and walked away from her.

Merry Christmas indeed!  I sent an email to London for a client and ended my email with Happy Holidays.  I got a reply saying they don’t say Happy Holidays in England and I should just say Merry Christmas.  Really?  I get that Christmas is coming, and it’s a big deal to some, but it’s not the only holiday in December, and not one I celebrate.

I like Christmas carols, thinks Christmas lights are beautiful, and can even appreciate a well decorated tree.  If someone wishes me a Merry Christmas, I will wish them one back.  I’m just not one to voluntarily throw out Merry Christmas to a stranger as I do not know if they care about having a Merry Christmas.  If I don’t know you, why presume?

I love the holidays of winter and truly think of December as being festive.  Christmas is certainly shoved down all of our throats in a commercial nothing to do with Jesus kind of way, but that’s okay.  Kids love Christmas and Hanukkah, and I love seeing them excited about the holidays.  For adults, I feel like it’s a time for all of us to be kind to one another.

A good Christmas carol can calm down road rage when trying to get into a mall, or a chocolate Christmas tree can take the edge off a crazy day at work.  Watching a little girl scream in delight at the sight of Santa, or a little boy scream in anger when told to wait for Santa to get a toy, is all fun and I’m in.  I will celebrate the season, but that’s it.

I’m not getting a Christmas tree, I do not celebrate Christmas, and I don’t understand being told I must wish people a Merry Christmas.  I am celebrating Hanukkah, and will spend Christmas at a good movie followed by Chinese food. I will wish you a Merry Christmas if you wish me one, and everyone else is getting a heartfelt Happy Holidays wish.

It’s not about me being rude, or a crazy Jew that is hating on Christmas, it’s just that I think of December as a month of holidays.  I’m not being politically correct by wanting to include everyone, the fact is that’s it the holiday season.  That’s it.  No big anti-Christmas conspiracy on my part.  Lighten up, it’s the holidays!

I actually love Christmas time.  I grew up with Christmas all around me and not a huge Jewish population, so I get it.  I have celebrated it at the homes of my friends, and embrace the joys of the holiday now.  That said, it’s not my holiday and never will be, so to this nasty old woman with a very Scrooge attitude, I say HAPPY HOLIDAYS and keep the faith.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Ilana Angel writes two blogs for JewishJournal.com. KEEPING THE FAITH is about her worldview as a single Jewish mother, and KEEPING IT REAL is all about reality television....

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