(This lovely image was found on http://www.pointsoflight.org/blog/2012/12/24/happy-holidays-and-happy-new-year)
This time of year people talk about the holiday spirit and kindness to others. There’s a battle over whether to say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays.” Those that focus on these words are missing the bigger picture.
I grew up celebrating Chanukah. When the Christmas Season (and yes, I am calling it the Christmas Season) begins, I cringe. My favorite radio station switched to Christmas music before Thanksgiving, I promptly switched the channel. And have now ceased listening to the radio all together.
To be clear: I think Christmas is a beautiful holiday. I love walking into a home decorated for the season. I married a man who celebrates Christmas. As I type this he’s hanging lights in our living room, and when I finish I’m going back to hanging ornaments on our tree.
So why the problem? The problem boils down to the way the holidays are handled publicly. Look around, what do you see? Christmas. There is more than one winter holiday, but only one gets any face time. The holiday season is exclusive.
Take, for example, my household. The majority of our decorations are for Christmas. My husband has some great items and every year finds something else cool to add to his collection. I have found some diamonds in the rough, to be sure, but every year I go into the store and see the same damn five decorations. Half my decorations are not my style, but I put them up, make them look pretty, and then stick my tongue out at the adorable elf grinning at me. An elf I picked out, no less.
Where’s my elf sitting on a dreidel? Oh, yeah, cross-holiday.
So I turn off the radio, because the only Chanukah song I’ll hear is Adam Sandler’s Hanukkah Song when Chanukah starts. Don’t get me, wrong, I love his song, but we’re a religion that’s been around for over 5,000 years. We’ve got more than one song!
(My favorite is Light One Candle, look it up) (Okay, I’ll help: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1cRXgDFiSs)
If I could change one thing about the holiday, I would scale back the holiday specific-ness. I don’t for one second believe, or feel, that Christmas will or should be removed from public places, because it is the main holiday. It’s also where the pocketbooks are, let’s be honest. But I would love it if I walked into a mall and felt a universal holiday spirit, with Christmas leading the way but not dominating. I’ve often thought that winter needs to be the main focus, but that’s discriminatory to folks living in warmer areas.
Ultimately, I don’t have the answer, and I bet you don’t either. For me, I need to continue to suck it up, and find the joy and beauty in Christmas, while bringing out my own celebration in my home. It’s not easy though, especially when I realize how little other people understand about my holiday.