Except when it pertains to pickles, Nascar racing, and the music of Justin Bieber, I'm a pretty tolerant person. It's like Depeche Mode said, "People are people." One thing, though, that leaves me feeling pretty darn intolerant is, well, intolerance. And is it just me, or does it seem like intolerance is running pretty rampant this holiday season?
Facebook has been littered with people ranting about "Happy Holidays" becoming a more preferred/recommended greeting this time of year rather than "Merry Christmas." I've been a "Happy Holidays" person for a long time, decades really, much of that stemming from the fact that I have several Jewish friends. My parents always taught me to be considerate of others and not to go out of my way to make them feel bad or left out. I always invited every kid in my class to my birthday parties (even if I didn't like them all), and I wanted to make sure that my friends who were not Christian understood that I wanted their December to be happy, even if their December didn't involve Christmas trees. I love, too, the all-encompassing feel of "Happy Holidays," the fact that it recognizes that this time of year is meaningful for everyone, not just Christians. As I've gotten older, December has become not just about Christmas, but it's about the end of one year and the beginning of a new one, of love and remembrance. And to me, it's important that I include all the people who mean something to me (and even those who don't) in that spirit of celebration -- be they Jewish, Atheist, Muslim, Buddhist, or what have you.
And yet there are people out there becoming downright militant about this "Merry Christmas" thing. Sunday afternoon, my sis was at work. (She's the receptionist at a hair salon.) She was ringing out a woman who had been in getting her hair done, and this woman's friend looked at my sis and said, "Tell her 'Merry Christmas,'" and then proceeded to go on a rant about people who say "Happy Holidays" and how much she hates that. My sis, who told me she typically doesn't offer any holiday greeting at work -- sticking with the tried and true "Thank you and have a nice day" -- gritted her teeth and gave in, wishing the woman a forced "Merry Christmas" even though she told me that she DESPERATELY wanted to say, "Happy Hannukah, bitch. I'm Jewish." (I told her that I probably would have said that. I'm 40. I don't care anymore!!)
I find it kind of ironic that many people are becoming so militant and downright hateful about this. I mean, isn't Christianity supposed to be about peace and love? Wouldn't Jesus be understanding of the idea that there are people out there who believe differently? Um, wasn't Jesus Jewish? So he totally wouldn't even celebrate Christmas outside of the whole "It's my birthday" kind of thing....and doesn't Jesus seem like the kind of guy who wouldn't want to make a big deal out of his birthday?
Listen, I think it's great that Christians are so devoted to their faith and want to celebrate this holiday that is such a meaningful part of their faith. I love me some Christmas, too, but I also think that, during this time of year when faith becomes such a center of many lives, it's a time to really think about what that faith preaches and remember that our world is virtual mulligatawny of faiths. That carrot swimming next to you is a part of that soup even if he is dripping in curry ... or super kosher. Together, we make a great soup, so let's work together rather than spending this season writhing with the indigestion of intolerance.
Happy December, everyone!