When the Entire World Becomes so Merry

Carly Waldman, Staff Writer

I was at Rockefeller Center in New York City, and all I could see was Christmas, Christmas, Christmas. I saw wreaths, Christmas trees, etc.

Don’t get me wrong; I don’t dislike Christmas. It just gets a little tiring to look at when all you see is red and green colored stuff for two months. I mean, I love Christmas! Even though I don’t celebrate it, I’ve always wanted to be able to decorate a tree, or stay up all night waiting for Santa.
About 2 billion people celebrate Christmas all over the world. And “about 9 in 10 people celebrate Christmas, even if they are not Christian,” according to the website FamilySearch. I’m in the minority who don’t celebrate Christmas, and I sometimes feel that the world could be more sensitive to me and others around the holidays.

“Merry Christmas!” said the woman at the checkout register at Stop and Shop. I returned her smile, and then said, “Thanks. You too!”
I walked out of the store and then began having second thoughts about what I said. Doesn’t she realize that not everyone’s Christian? If so, then why did she just assume that I celebrated Christmas?

On one side of the argument, people think that it could be taken offensively if everybody is going around saying “Merry Christmas!” Some people celebrate Hanukkah, some people celebrate Kwanzaa, and some people don’t celebrate anything. Not everybody celebrates Christmas.
Rev. Paul Raushenbush, a writer for the Huffington Post, said, “We are in a different world of American history, and America is about the people who are here now.” If you don’t know which holiday someone celebrates, wouldn’t it just be easier to say “Happy Holidays” instead of going through the embarrassment of saying the wrong thing?

On the other hand, in the last decade, the War on Christmas has become common around this time of year. An author of the New York Times wrote, “People who believe Christmas is under attack point to inclusive phrases like ‘Happy Holidays’ as…. Insults to Christianity.”
“I think that if people really understood the true meaning of Christmas, they would understand that the message of Christmas is not to exclude people but to include people,” said Susan Cutler, a Hebrew school teacher in Wilton, Conn. Saying “Merry Christmas” to everyone you see around the holidays, even people who don’t celebrate Christmas, is definitely not being inclusive, or sensitive.

It’s not inclusive or sensitive because, even though most people in the world celebrate Christmas, not everybody does. When you go up to someone and say “Merry Christmas,” and that person doesn’t actually celebrate Christmas, it could be saying that you think that Christmas is the only holiday that’s around that time of year and that you think that everyone celebrates Christmas, which is not true.

Holiday time is a time to include others, and to be sensitive to other people’s religions and beliefs. New Years is just around the corner and I challenge everyone to come up with a resolution of some type that has to do with including others. Happy holidays, everybody!