Are you offended by “Merry Christmas”?
My early memories of Christmas involved dreaming about what presents would be waiting for me under the tree when I awoke. I also remember the occasional disappointment over the sweater or sock in my stocking, but generally despite the usual selfishness of children, the experience was fun and enjoyable. Like most of my friends, we celebrated Christmas for the presents, and although the story of Jesus was never too far from our minds, it was never anything that would overshadow the positive experience.
Despite not having an ounce of religiosity in me, I still wish people a Merry Christmas. I’ve never given a second thought to the religious aspects of the holiday precisely because it never mattered to me. Every so often, however, I hear a few people complain that they feel offended by the well wishes of others. Perhaps some of them feel as though the holiday is being forced upon them. The tradition of winter solstice and the subsequent celebrations have been a part of the human experience for a long time. That Christianity now claims the holiday for themselves does not faze me. Plenty of other religions have come and gone, and yet we still celebrate these days. The 21st of December is the shortest day of the year, but it marks the beginning of the end of winter. From that moment on, the days will continue to have more sunlight. Humans choose to celebrate, and with good cause. Winter can be depressing, lonely, and very cold; any reason to party seems good enough for me in such times.
I for one enjoy the fact that people are always a little bit more pleasant during Christmas. If the reason is motivated by religion, I still see it as mostly innocuous. We are simply continuing the traditions our ancestors did, albeit with a few twists. I choose to exclude religion out of mine, but I do not expect others to do the same.
If you feel offended by Christmas well wishers, and prefer the ubiquitous “Happy Holidays”, then I believe you may be suffering from an acute case of stick up the ass. The spirit of celebration can often be muddied by the inequities and the selfishness of the few. I urge atheists and non-religious folks alike to see the positive aspects of the holiday, and leave the business of secular conflicts for another day. This is a war we cannot win.