Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Happy Holiday Hullaballoo.

I really enjoy this time of year, except for the snow and cold which I merely endure. Aside from that aside it's really great as the holidays approach. Everyone seems to be ready to smile. The lights and decorations are uplifting. The days off work are nice, too. It may be the most wonderful time of the year.
And The Same To You. I Mean...
When I joined the professional world the winter holidays provided additional ongoing moments of glee. As a Jewish Funeral Director serving a primarily Jewish clientele it was obvious to most that my winter holiday of choice (and of birth) is Channukah. I knew most of my vendors were Christian and celebrated Christmas. As December hit the 20's and it was clear I wouldn't be talking to the vendors again before Christmas I would end my call with "Merry Christmas". As most people do, my vendors would reply "and the same to you" and their mind would flash and they would stammer "I mean, uh, Happy Channukah." For some reason, my dark side found that awkward moment for my vendors quite funny, especially as it happened over and over again.
The Mitzvah Is In The Intent.
Before I paint myself as a jerk that revels in the awkwardness of others I would quickly add "Don't worry, I know what you meant. Peace on earth, goodwill to all is a universal message that all support." That's what I believe. A Rabbi friend of mine would often say "The mitzvah (loosely translated as good deed) is in the intent". The wish of a "Merry Christmas" was heartfelt and well intentioned. No one was suggesting I accept Jesus Christ as my personal savior. It behooved me to accept the wishes as intended even if the terminology wasn't completely correct.

I have seen the bumper sticker "We Say Merry Christmas." I heard somebody on the radio say "Merry Christmas because I don't go for that Happy Holiday stuff." I believe I'm sensitive and supportive of those commemorating and rejoicing in the birth of their Lord and Savior. As for myself, I could always use "well wishes" and don't want to throw any "well wishes" away.

What do you think? Am I supporting the homogenizing of a significant religious holiday? Are some folks hypersensitive about receiving wishes for good? Is there a single best way approach to this time of year?


  1. Happy Holidays! Here in Rome we are getting ready too, but we need to tighten our belt this year. The economy isn't so great!

  2. Hi Francesca,
    The economy is pretty rough here too, although little rays of sunshine are starting appear sporadically. Besides it's not so much about what you have or what you can get, it's about who you are and the love that surrounds you. Happy Holidays, from here in Rockford to you in Rome.