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Thursday, December 13, 2012

No Matter How You Say It, The Message Is The Same

Hey, everybody!  Today is the lucky thirteenth day of “The Pop Culture Addict’s Advent Calendar”, and for today’s entry, it’s time for another diary entry.  I have decided to try and make all of these entries holiday themed to keep with the tradition. 

That being said, I want you to know that this particular entry is going to be one that could potentially ignite a firestorm of debate.  I am very aware of the risks in making my feelings known, but you know what?  I have a thick skin developed by years of having to overcome physical and emotional obstacles throughout my life.  I think I can handle it.

Okay, let’s not waste time here.  Let’s get on with it.

December 13, 2012

Well, diary, another holiday season is in our midst, and I am happy to report that this guy has his whole list crossed off this year.  Bought all the gifts, mailed out all the cards, and I am sailing down easy street this year.  I am actually in awe over how prepared I was this year.  But I stress time and time again, when you work a job in the field known as customer service at a retail outlet, you learn pretty quickly not to procrastinate.  This is coming from a reformed December 24th shopper, by the way.

You know, one thing that I always loved about the Christmases of the past are just how much happier and joyful everybody was.  I still remember walking down the downtown streets, all decked out in tinsel, wreaths, and bright, sparkling lights that seemed to shimmer like stars in the sky on a crisp December night.   Everyone was walking down the street, happily giving other people their best wishes, whether it was a Merry Christmas, a Joyous Kwanzaa, a Happy Hanukkah, or the more generic Happy Holidays.  It didn’t matter to me what people were saying to me, as long as they were kind and genuine about it (as I believe most of them were), I didn’t care what kind of a greeting I got.  I acknowledged every single one of them, because I was always taught that you should be kind and polite to people who do take the time to give you a nice greeting.

Unfortunately, the concept of doing unto others as you would have them do unto you has been lost on some people, and depending on the greeting that you give them, you might end up getting a reaction that can range from indifference to just plain hostility!

And that’s not cool with me.

Just to state for the record (and just so I can get it out there for everyone to read), I am one of the hundreds of millions of people in the world who celebrate Christmas.  It was the holiday that I and most of my peers celebrated.  It was the only holiday that we ever really knew.  We were all raised with both the religious and non-religious teachings of the holiday.  We spent a lot of time learning about Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus as much as we did learning about Santa Claus and his eight reindeer that pulled the sleigh all around the world to deliver presents.

But it wasn’t until I was older until I started learning about the other holidays in December that other faiths and religions celebrated around the same time as Christmas.  I learned about Hanukkah when I was around nine years old.  In fact, I believe that a children’s show on TVOntario was my first experience with learning about Hanukkah.  For the life of me, I can’t remember what the show was called, but we saw the lighting of the menorah, and we learned about the various foods that were associated with the holiday, and we also learned that it lasted eight days, in which each child would get one present on each of the eight days.  I must admit that as a nine-year-old child, I liked that part the best!

Kwanzaa is another holiday that a lot of people celebrate, and I was kind of surprised to learn that its origin is actually quite recent.  Apparently, the first Kwanzaa observance was held in 1966, after a man by the name of Maulana Karenga founded it as the first specifically African-American holiday.  The reason for the creation of the holiday was to give African-Americans a way to celebrate a holiday that celebrates their rich history and culture.  Kwanzaa is a week-long celebration that usually takes place between December 26 and January 1, which culminates with a feast and gift-giving.  There are seven core principles that are involved with Kwanzaa, and these seven core principles are unity, self-determination, purpose, faith, creativity, cooperative economics, and collective work and responsibility.

So, you know, when you look at it, there really isn’t a whole lot of difference in the way we celebrate Christmas from the way that the Jewish community celebrates Hanukkah, or the African-American population celebrates Kwanzaa.  In all honesty, I have to say that both Hanukkah and Kwanzaa sound like a lot of fun.  I have always said that I would like to be a fly on the wall and sit in on at least one of these celebrations.  I’ve always been a big fan of how cultures around the world celebrate holidays, and I think that it would be a fantastic experience to be a part of a Hanukkah celebration or to see a Kwanzaa gathering in full swing.  I think it would be a fun experience.

So, that being said, if someone were to wish me a Happy Hanukkah, I wouldn’t mind in the slightest.  I’d probably even wish them one right back, because I appreciate the fact that they thought of me enough to wish me the very best for the holiday season, even if I don’t partake in the same holiday traditions that they do.  I think it’s nice.

What isn’t nice is seeing people freak out and get mad because someone dared wish them a Merry Christmas, and them having a fit because they don’t celebrate Christmas.  Nor is it nice to wish someone a Happy Holiday, and have them jump all over someone because they celebrate CHRISTMAS, and they want everyone else to know that they celebrate CHRISTMAS, and if they don’t celebrate CHRISTMAS, then they should just keep quiet.

I mean, looking back at that last paragraph, it sounds absolutely silly, right?

Oh, and there’s this lovely image that I see floating around social media sites...shall we have a look at it?

Yeah, that’s really heartwarming and thoughtful for the holiday season, isn’t it?  Makes my heart swell with the same warmth as a glass of expired eggnog.

Seriously, who the heck is anyone to tell anyone else what kind of a holiday greeting they should use?  I’ll tell you what that’s not exactly respectful.

If somebody wants to wish me a Merry Christmas, I say thank you and wish them one back!  If someone wants to wish me a happy holiday, then I say thank you, and wish them one back!  And if someone were to wish me Season’s Greetings...well, I may look at them a bit funny because Season’s Greetings always seemed a bit awkward to use for a holiday greeting...but I’d still thank them and wish them one right back!  It’s called being polite, being respectful, and being absolutely in the spirit of trying to make other people smile. 

The above picture that I showed earlier to me reeks of arrogance, as far as I am concerned.  And, last time I checked, arrogance does not make a very merry Christmas OR a happy holiday.

At the same time, I also think that it works both ways.  I don’t think that people who don’t celebrate Christmas should really want to take the holiday celebrations away from people who do celebrate Christmas either.  But to be fair, I haven’t actually met anybody who is offended that they were wished a Merry Christmas when they don’t actually celebrate Christmas.  That's not to say that this doesn't happen, just that I haven't encountered it.  In fact, I remember wishing someone a Merry Christmas once, and they politely smiled and said that they actually celebrated Hanukkah, but they were very polite about it and brushed it off.  We even got into a little bit of a friendly discussion about each of our holiday traditions.  It was a very nice moment that I have always treasured because we took the time to listen to each other.


I guess what I am trying to say is respectful to each other, regardless of what holiday we celebrate.  No holiday is more important than another...and that's something that I think a few people have forgotten.  As I said before, when you really sit down and look at how Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa are celebrated, they’re all celebrated in a similar fashion.  In the end, the traditions may be different, but one thing remains the same...spending time with your loved ones and enjoying each other’s company.  That’s what the holidays are about...not launching a campaign to solicit support for which holiday should dominate the month of December.  As far as I’m concerned, every holiday is special, and should be treated with the same amount of respect.  I think that it's great to be proud of the holiday that you know best, and I think it is wonderful for people to share that spirit with everybody...but I don't believe that people should feel that their holiday is superior to anyone else's.  They all have their place in the world, and I think people who celebrate Hanukkah should have the same respect that people who celebrate Christmas get, and vice versa.  And if anyone wishes you a Happy Holiday, acknowledge it, and wish them well.  To me, that really showcases the Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa spirit more than anything else you could do!

I realize that this blog entry won’t change some people’s minds, and I don’t expect it to.  I’m just making my own thoughts known.  If some disagree with me, that’s cool.  I won’t hate you or plot your demise.  I’ll just nod my head, agree to disagree, and move on.  All I’m saying is that it’s okay to wish people whatever you want to wish them.  There’s really no point in getting offended about it. 

And, just think of how much happier your holidays would be if you went around with a positive disposition instead of finding an excuse to badger or belittle anybody else in order to prove a point!

So, I guess to end this diary entry off, I just have this to say.

It’s okay to say Merry Christmas, so Merry Christmas, everyone!

It’s okay to say Happy Holidays, so Happy Holidays, everyone!

It’s okay to say Happy Hanukkah, so Happy Hanukkah, everyone!

It’s okay to say Happy Kwanzaa, so Happy Kwanzaa, everyone!

And, you know what, even though I find the greeting to be a bit awkward to say, Season’s Greetings to all!

And that wraps up day #13. 

Coming up tomorrow on Day #14...we’re actually going to do an episode spotlight on a popular television show.  It’s very rare that I do an episode spotlight, but I think that the one that I’ve chosen will definitely put you in the holiday spirit, and will make you realize that as long as you’re with the people you love, anyplace can be considered home for the holidays.

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