Celebrating What’s Good In Us All
Wednesday - December 26, 2007
I am “one of those people,” I’m afraid. One of those people who believes the Christmas holidays are not just for Christians. It simply cannot be that here, in the greatest and most inclusive nation on earth, we would be so small and petty as to say to the multitudes among us who are not believers in Jesus Christ - this is our holiday. If you’re not a believer you can go to the back of the room and be quiet.
No, I don’t think that’s right at all.
In New York City, a man was attacked by a group of young people when he countered their “Merry Christmas” greeting with “Happy Hanukkah.” The only person who came to this Jewish man’s rescue was a Muslim. Whose values would you like to pass on to your children?
The other day I was waiting to have some blood drawn (don’t you hate that?) when in walked the technician. She was wearing long pants, her blue coat, latex gloves - and a hijab. This lovely woman was gentle as she poked around for a vein, apologizing for my discomfort. Where are you from? I asked. Palestine, she said. She and her family had emigrated, lived on the Mainland for a while but came here three years ago. They love Hawaii. It is different, she said, from the rest of the country. Palestine is first in their hearts, but Hawaii is their second home.
I say the holidays are for her and her family, too.
What we have done here in our great country is that we have taken a special day - Christmas - and we have opened it up to our citizens as a government-sanctioned holiday. And that means it’s for all, not just the believers.
In some ways this expansion of Christmas into a secular holiday has paved the way for rampant excess. We have turned what was at one time a relatively quiet day of worship and prayer into this sprawling, festive, massively commercial enterprise that empties our pocketbooks while tugging at our hearts. Santa Claus ho-ho-ho’s our kids into being nice and not naughty, but come on, it’s all about the gifts.
On the other hand, Christmas in our land of equality means everyone can take advantage of the holidays to share and celebrate what is good in us all - Christians and non-Christians alike. No one religion can claim to hold the patent on compassion, charity and love.
Instead of fighting about whether to say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays,” we should be chilling out and enjoying the opportunity to spread some much-needed cheer in a conflict-weary world. Give presents, not lectures. Invite all into our homes and hearts, not just those who believe as we do. We could all practice a little more good will toward men.
Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. Peace.
It’s a time to set aside our differences and celebrate all the very best of our humanity.
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