Sunday, December 04, 2005

Idaho Statesman on Seasons Greetings

or as Andrew puts it:

The Idaho Statesman on politically correct holiday greetings. I think I
might agree with them, if I could figure out exactly what their point


Christmas Day, Dec. 25, celebrates the birth of Jesus, a central event in the Christian faith. Hanukkah — the Jewish festival of lights, beginning this year on Dec. 26 — celebrates the rededication of the temple of Jerusalem after a victory over the Hellenist Syrians in 165 B.C. Kwanzaa, an African-American celebration of family, community and culture from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1, was created in 1966 — but it is based on first-harvest celebrations dating back to ancient Egypt.

To those who devoutly celebrate these dates, the "happy holidays" greeting can seem inadequate — a pseudo-sentiment that doesn't connect with a faith. In the effort to not offend, wishing happy holidays can have the effect of offending.

That can happen. But it need not happen.

In a smaller community, in another time, perhaps it was easier for us all to connect with each other immediately, and know exactly how to extend good wishes with sensitivity. But perhaps not. The fact is, we don't know a stranger's religious beliefs on sight — any more than we can divine their politics. What a hollow world it would be if we knew everyone before we even met them. Hence "happy holidays," a deliberately generic greeting.

No, it's not personalized. Nor is it perfect. What greeting is? When 160,000 U.S. troops are stationed in Iraq — and Americans are embroiled in a bitter debate over our mission there — it's not as if the old holiday standby "peace on Earth" is absent political topspin.

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