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Stepping into the world of Social Work

Monthly Archives: November 2011

What war on Christmas?

As the holidays approach, some on the Right Wing are going to start their rants about a fictional war on Christmas that is supposedly going on.

Well, let’s look at the facts here:

First of all, about retailers and “Merry Christmas.” I wouldn’t be at all surprised if retailers recommended Happy Holidays instead, especially anytime before December 24th. If someone is buying socks on December 2nd, they may not need, or even want to hear Merry Christmas. If someone is obviously buying Christmas presents on the 23rd, I’m sure they won’t mind hearing it.

Bottom line, since retailers already strongly recommend certain types of greetings and closings from employees, they can certainly make similar recommendations regarding the holidays. Some jobs (sales and collections) even require a script. The one case I found in which Merry Christmas came up in an employment decision, it was a very scripted sales position, and the employee refused to say happy holidays because she “doesn’t acknowledge other holidays.”¬†What kind of an attitude towards ones customers is that? We’re not talking about slipping and saying Merry Christmas on Christmas Eve, we’re talking about outright refusal.

Using “Happy Holidays” is also NOT a war on Christmas in and of itself. I have seen the phrase every December my entire life in advertising and media, as well as on people’s lips. Yes, it is partially intended to be inclusive towards those who celebrate other holidays, but it’s even more than that. Wishing someone who celebrates Christmas happy holidays in mid-December is wishing them enjoyment of Christmas and New Years, as well as embracing the concept that Christmas events (school and office parties, social occasions, etc.) take place throughout the month. Christmas itself can even be seen as two holidays, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

In my personal life, I typically wish people happy holidays if 1. I am unaware of their practices or 2. I do not expect to see them again until January (for example, saying goodbye to co-workers when leaving the office as it closes for the last week of December). I’ll use Merry Christmas in other cases.

The same issue comes up with the school vacation that occurs at the end of December through New Years. It is supposedly somehow some sort of attack on Christianity to call it winter break, when that is what it is! Yes, in the past we have called it Christmas break, particularly in communities where very few students celebrated anything else. But it isn’t an attack to recognize the fact that it occurs in winter and contains far more than just December 25th.

Another issue, one that has existed for years, is overtly religious Christmas decorations on public land, particularly City Hall and similar space. Each community has different policies and options, but in general it seems to me that this is NOT the non-believers attacking Christians but the other way around.

I drive a lot in my job, and pass by many many churches each day in the San Fernando Valley portion of Los Angeles. I also notice light displays on private homes. I find it very interesting that very few, perhaps even no churches have displays of the types I have heard people demanding on the steps of city hall in some cities. People also have the freedom to set up overtly religious displays in their own yards, but I see very few compared to the snowmen and Santas, etc.

Since they are NOT using their own yards or the churches (which would seem the most appropriate place anyway) why do they need it at City Hall? The answer is this: to get favoritism for their faith and their belief. They want everyone to think that City Hall believes like they do, so you better get on board. So who is really trying to do the dictating here? (Note: I have no problem with festive secular decorations or with locations that allow unattended individual contributions as long as non-Christian ideas are also permitted)

And what in the world is wrong with inclusiveness? While Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists might be new neighbors to some of us, most communities of any size have had Jewish citizens for the entire history of this country. Freedom of religion shouldn’t be a new concept!

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