As Christmas is just a few days away, I thought I’d share with you my wishes for the days ahead. Pardon me if you’ve heard this before, but some things bear repeating.
What I want for all of us:
♦ A sense of proportion.
In nations like Egypt, where a Sunday bombing attack during morning Mass last week killed 25 people, Christians are most definitely persecuted. In some nations, the mere practice of Christianity can lead to imprisonment, exile or death.
In the U.S., not so much. Every religion (or non-religion), as long as its practice does not infringe on the safety or lives of others, should have the same standing here, as not everyone in the U.S. is Christian (and not all Christians are church-going … I know … shocking!!!). Expecting that everything be filtered through the lens of Christianity is folly, considering the growing numbers of other religious faiths here, as well as the unaffiliated. Allowing others the same rights you’ve always had does not mean religious freedom is being curtailed, nor does it mean you’re being persecuted.
Don’t make me break out the “tyranny of the majority” speech. You should have paid attention in civics class instead of carving “Donnie for prez” into desks. Come to think of it, it would have been a good idea to heed your English teachers as well. Your writing is horrible. (It’s “biased,” not “bias” media … if you’re going to accuse us of that, get it right, please. Geez … every single time …)
♦ Common sense.
War on Christmas? Really? As a Christian, it disturbs me to see the over-the-top protestations when someone hears “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings.” When I was growing up, it was well-understood that those greetings encompassed all the winter holidays, including Christmas and New Year’s (as well as Chanukah, Saturnalia, Mawlid an-Nabi and many other non-Christian holidays). For decades before that, it was a typical greeting at this time of year. Now, though, “Happy Holidays” is apparently an insult of the highest degree that cannot stand (perhaps to be settled with a duel … maybe fruitcakes at 20 paces?).
Besides the fact that Christians aren’t the only ones who celebrate Christmas (and not all Christians do; the Puritans certainly didn’t), we don’t walk around with signs denoting our religion or lack thereof, so “Happy Holidays” is typically the safest bet. I generally don’t say “Merry Christmas” unless the other person says it first or I already know they celebrate it. Besides, “holiday” means “holy day,” so it’s no slight to religion. You’re free to say “Merry Christmas” if you want to, but you have no right not to be offended if someone else doesn’t say it.
Whatever the greeting, just take it in the spirit intended, which most likely is nice and neighborly, not to tick you off … unless it’s a very annoyed me. I wouldn’t last long in retail because the first difficult customer who absolutely insisted on “Merry Christmas” would probably get back a snide, “Happy Chanukah, Bucko.” I think Washington Post commenter Turkmenbashi may be my spirit animal (or a long-lost cousin), judging from a comment on Petula Dvorak’s column Monday: “[C]ome to think of it, I would totally shop somewhere that had, ‘Up yours, Bucko!’ as a greeting.” You read my mind, Turk … I’d patronize that store just to watch the heads of the easily offended explode.
Some people forget I like to poke bears. And some people make it way too easy. (And sharp readers of both the print and blog versions may notice a subtle difference in the preceding quote; I thought “up yours” might get me in a little trouble in the print version …)
♦ A sense of humor.
When you have people shouting hateful rhetoric and arguing about what constitutes a fact (there should be no arguing this; interpretation may differ, but facts are what they are), it’s hard sometimes to keep perspective. While we should be concerned about what’s going on in the world, if we make ourselves sick with worry, it does no one any good … well, except maybe your doctor. Finding something to laugh about, though, helps your health, and might just keep that guy sitting next to you at the doctor’s office from slugging you … unless you’re laughing at him.
That’d be a bad idea unless he laughs first.
♦ Better holiday music.
Maybe I’m a bit of a music snob (I sang in choral groups in high school and college), but after having to hear, on my way home from work, Katy Perry butchering “White Christmas,” I’m putting my foot down. Katy, Lady Gaga, Biebs, et al., please just stop. Not everybody can or should make a Christmas album. I curse you to a lifetime of “singing” “Little Drummer Boy” in strip malls.
At least Bob Rivers’ Christmas albums are supposed to be bad (and darkly hilarious). You’re just bad.
♦ A cat to cuddle (OK, or a dog), chocolate and world peace.
I ask for this every year, and every year only get the first two. With the political divisiveness that’s been stoked by the election, the people who are offended by everything that doesn’t square with their version of reality, and the unrest worldwide, I think I’m pretty safe in assuming the third part of the wish will still be a no-go.
Why can’t life be like that Coke ad with perfect harmony, where being polite isn’t derided as being politically correct? I’ll be over here in the corner with the furry one and a chocolate orange, trying to figure that one out. I might need more chocolate.
I do have one more wish, and you can help. Right now I’m working on the next few days’ Voices pages, and would love to have some non-cranky letters for Sunday’s Christmas edition. Yes, I do (perversely) love cranky letters, but I try to keep the mood lighter on that day if at all possible.
Do you have a favorite Christmas/holiday memory or tradition? If you haven’t had a letter published in the past month, tell me about it in fewer than 250-300 words and get it to me no later than 8 a.m. Friday, and I’ll do my best to get it in. Send it by email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or head over to the form at arkansasonline.com/contact/voicesform.
And a little chocolate wouldn’t hurt. It’ll make me happy, anyway.
Sending a message by mail probably won’t make it in time, unfortunately. Plus there’s that pesky problem of having to enter it into the system, which, with my carpal tunnel, is difficult at times. I’ve been trying an OCR program, but it so far has failed at recognizing handwriting, and even typed documents can give it fits. I spent an hour Tuesday just correcting all the misinterpretations of words from four or five scanned letters.
There was a bright spot, though, however unintentional. In addition to correcting the mistakes on the scan’s interpretations, I was having to enter in the names and cities on my tablet before emailing the file to be put in the system. On the last one I did, from Robert G. Hall, auto-correct decided to “fix” his last name.
Apparently the app developer is a Southerner. 😉