Friday, December 21, 2007
Happy holidays, and don't be offended
--Lisa Bloom, 360 Contributor


I suppose I am one of the "politically correct idiots" Roland Martin refers to in his piece chastising those of us who wish our friends nondenominational holiday greetings.

My cards this year, from the Museum of Modern Art, feature a series of cut-out white doves, with the simple message, "Peace." For some reason this makes Mr. Martin's blood boil.

Since I'm Jewish, I light Hanukkah candles with my children. We don't celebrate Christmas, nor do we celebrate the holidays of any other religious faiths, unless we are invited to someone's home, and then we'll happily raise a glass with them.

In recognition of the fact that I live in the beautifully diverse city of New York, for the entire month of December I sign my emails "happy holidays," and I give "holiday" gifts. Some of my friends celebrate Kwanzaa. Some are atheists. Some are Muslim. Some Hindu.

It makes as much sense to wish these folks, and me, "Merry Christmas," as it does to wish us Happy Boxing Day, the British holiday none of us celebrate.

But there is a key difference between us and Mr. Martin. We are not the least bit offended at being wished "Merry Christmas."

We smile at the pleasantry, which is obviously intended in kindness. Hey, any time someone wishes me positive thoughts, I'm good.

Why on earth are some pundits so offended, so upset, so flat-out angry at a well-wisher giving them a friendly "Happy holidays?"

Why is this fury trotted out every Christmas? And why always by people who bemoan that we have forgotten the true meaning of Christmas?

Just asking.

Happy holidays, everyone.
Posted By CNN: 10:57 AM ET
  29 Comments
All of the hype every year about how to wish someone holiday greetings is totally ridiculous.

My family celebrates Christmas, but if someone wants to wish me the best in their holiday language, I welcome it. I think we can all use as many best wishes as possible.

It isn't the holiday that we should all focus on, it's the spirit behind the warm greetings which we should all welcome.
Posted By Anonymous Joseph Kowalski, North Huntingdon, PA : 11:38 AM ET
Lisa,
I'm with you I could care less how people greet me! I mean atleast they are being nice!

I don't expect everyone to comform to my religion just as I'm sure they don't want me to have to comform to theirs. It's no big deal!! I wish people would get over it and just go on with their lives!

As long as you know what the true meaning is of why we celebrate Christmas then it really makes no difference how others acknowledge it!

Cynthia, Covington, Ga.
Posted By Blogger Cindy : 11:44 AM ET
Good morning Lisa,

Well, I am a muslim woman. I wish everyone a happy holidays an a merry christmas; I also wish my professor a happy Haunakah, and I am not reluctant to do that.

I do not cre if it is a christian tradition or not, because:

1. As a muslim, I believe in Jesus Christ, Moses, and all messangers. We actually say: "Peace be upon them" whenever we mention their names.

2. I believe that what is important is what christmas is all about regardless of our faith.

Therefore, I guess you are just great for embrassing different cultures. After all, don't we all follow the old testemant?


By the way,

Happy Haunakah :)

Hind,
Posted By Blogger Saudi_Hind : 11:51 AM ET
Merry Christmas, Happy holidays and a Very Peaceful New Year.
In the end it doesn't matter what we say, it's how we act the other 364 days of the year...Season Greetings. Take Care

Lorie Ann
Buellton, Calif.
Posted By Blogger Lorie Ann : 11:56 AM ET
Lisa:
Thanks for your take on the holiday greetings. Why can we not accept that all people have the right to celebrate our religion as we wish. Our ancestors fought and died for this right, and many around the world are still fighting religious wars. I believe in Christmas and Christ. So what if another religion does not? We are all free to choose what we are comfortable with in our hearts.
I also want to let you know that, as a Jewish person, you are very kind and generous to accept our 'Merry Christmases' as kind gestures. We can each learn many wonderful things from all religions as we can also learn from people who have no such beliefs. We are all in this together, so we need to get our noses out of the air and be kind, loving people.
Lastly, I think your cards sound beautiful. Peace...is what this earth needs especially this season. Probably better than my cards that show Rudolph peeing on a chimney! They are all sent with good wishes.
Posted By Blogger Sandra Giseburt : 12:09 PM ET
Thanks for the insightful post Ms Bloom. I don't think that people who say Happy Holidays are forgetting the meaning of Christmas. It dawned on me a few years ago that it may be selfish to ONLY say Merry Christmas to a stranger, so now I say "Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas" when I greet a stranger.
Posted By Anonymous Anne Detroit, Mi. : 12:12 PM ET
Lisa, good question. I'm not offended being wished either way. Sometimes I think we read too much into what people say or try to be politically correct. We should just all relax and take either greeting as if the greeter is saying "I wish you many blessings and much happiness" or something positive like that. After all, isn't that the essence of holidays?

How about I give you both?

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, Lisa!

Cheers,
Lilibeth
Edmonds, Washington
Posted By Blogger Lilibeth : 12:13 PM ET
I agree with you. There are so many holidays that occur during this period of time, it's silly that people should feel forced to say "Merry Christmas." I have no sympathy for people in the majority who insist they are being oppressed. "War on Christmas"??? Give me a break!

Happy Holidays to you, too, Ms. Bloom!
Posted By Anonymous Jennifer in Kansas City : 12:14 PM ET
I completely agree with you. There is nothing wrong with wishing someone Happy Holidays, especially if you are unsure of their beliefs.

I think that there are so many other things to concern ourselves with in this world. Why do we have to question how we wish each other peace and good cheer?

From my family to yours, Happy Holidays!
Posted By Blogger Sheryn : 12:27 PM ET
An big, inappropriate 'Amen' from me, Lisa. I'm quite tired of all the War-on-Christmas whiners insisting that everyone celebrate THEIR holiday. I wouldn't mind so much except I know they would be similarly outraged at the suggestion that they take part in, say, a fast for Ramadan, not in lieu of, but in addition to, their own religious celebration. Yet they have no problem assigning double-religious duties to all other religions. The hypocrisy is astounding, yet not surprising.
Posted By Blogger Arachnae : 1:13 PM ET
Hi Lisa,

I'm so glad to see a 360 post representing the large numbers of Americans who like you and I are not Christian. I have read statistics that anywhere from 15 to 25% of Americans fall into this group, so we are not alone. I think it is presumptuous of anyone to automatically assume that a person celebrates Christmas, especially a religious version of it. I am not offended at the desire by others that the day be a merry one for me. But I do wish some people would quit telling others about their faith all the time. I think the media are devoting entirely too much time to reporting on religious topics these days. It's a highly divisive subject and best left to private, not public thoughts.

And a happy holiday to you, too.
Posted By Blogger Barbara in Culver City, CA : 1:20 PM ET
I'm Christian, so I celebrate Christmas. But I have no problem with others who celebrate differently. It's about celebrating faith, hope, and love no matter what one believes. To me condemning someone for not being Christian just isn't very Christian but instead hypocritical. And honestly, if I receive one more Jesus is the only reason for the season type email or card from a friend or colleague I'm going to scream. The God of my understanding loves all His kids no matter what they follow. And the last time I checked, He wasn't politically correct, just all powerful and way more knowledgeable than humans will ever be. And this morning I sent out holiday greeting cards with a dove of peace and greetings of peace and joy no matter what my loved ones' faith. If we were only supposed to be Christian or Jew or Buddhist or Hindu, don't you think we would have all been wired to believe that one way? Really. Happy holidays (holy days whatever they may be for you)!
Posted By Anonymous Tammy, Berwick, LA : 1:24 PM ET
Lisa - I am as confused as you about this. Like you, I live in an ethnically diverse city. I also work with the public. I would never assume to know someone's religious preference (or lack thereof) just by looking at them, so I say Happy Holidays in order to include everyone who celebrates holidays at this time of year. If that doesn't include Hanukkah or Christmas (or Orthodox Christmas in January), it usually includes New Year's. I don't take offense when someone wishes me Happy Hanukkah even though I am a Christian. Like you, I take it in the spirit it was intended.

To you and your family, and to the CNN family - Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year!

Shalom.

Barbara - Las Vegas, NV
Posted By Blogger Barbara : 1:53 PM ET
My friend is Jewish and loves the christmas tree. Please don't ask me why. I am a christian and also share her Jewish Holiday. So, my friend told me when she was little, she asked her Mom for buying the Hollybush (meaning of Christmas tree). Her Mom asked her father for permission. "Only to buy a small Hollybush (about 2ft)" her father said. My friend went out to buy 4 ft of Hollybush (she broke her father's rule) with new oranments. Since her parent wasn't home, she set up everything beautifully. My friend never forget when her parent and their friends came home. One of their friends had passed out on the floor. I thought that story is so amusing and funny. It's so nice to share our peaceful Holidays.

Michele, Douglaston NY
Posted By Anonymous Anonymous : 2:13 PM ET
Hi Lisa,
I could not agree with you more!! I am Jewish as well and have never been offended when friends and even strangers wish me a "Merry Christmas". I figure it's better than other things they could say!
Best wishes to you and your family! Happy Holidays!
Posted By Blogger pamina : 2:58 PM ET
There are some who relish stewing in the juices of their own self-righteous indignation and they will find fault with the strangest things to achieve that end. So for those scornful few who find offense when I offer a "Happy Holidays" in the spirit of giving, I am able to provide them with what they enjoy.

It has become a holiday tradition I look forward to each year.
Posted By Anonymous Michelle, St. Paul MN : 3:31 PM ET
Let's just take Roland and Bill O'Reilly, who started all this non-sense with his show and his editorial, down to Key West during Fantasy Fest and let the boys figure out what holidays we should and shouldn't celebrate.

Just wondering.....do you think they would celebrate with us or would you and I just scared them to death?
Posted By Anonymous Renee : 4:09 PM ET
well some non-christians may not be offended but some are. that was his point. i want to respect others of other faith but like roland said christmas is a christian holiday and you cant take CHRIST out of it. by me keeping it in i have found others get offended and i go along and say seasons greeting. out of respect. but i cant keep true to my religion or it would be non pc.
Posted By Blogger Martini Sherri : 4:19 PM ET
Christmas is a religious holiday and therefore, it excludes many citizens. I wish Christmas would be restored to being a religious holiday and not a national holiday. What I would love is to let Christmas be celebrated in church and with family and have the 4th of July which is an inclusive holiday become as big an event as Christmas . Why not celebrate the birth of our country by giving presents to everyone?
Posted By Blogger Karen : 7:09 PM ET
I'm an elementary school principal and I tell my teachers to celebrate everything. Some schools are so "politically correct" that they are not allowed to have Christmas Trees on their "holiday" cookies. I have a Christmas Tree, a Menorah, a Nativity Set and a Kinara in my office. These are kids, guys, get over it - for their sake! Happy Holidays! T's the season!
Posted By Anonymous JP, Long Island, NY : 9:39 PM ET
I also don't understand it. I'm Christian. I celebrate Christmas, but I know that not everyone does. Why resent a phrase that includes everyone, as opposed to one that excludes some? Having someone say "Merry Christmas" to me doesn't enhance my own joy of the season and having them say "Happy Holidays" (which I take to include my own Christmas) certainly doesn't diminish it.

Why is it that the same people who argue that they are NOT trying to impose their religious beliefs onto others, are the ones who complain the loudest when they aren't allowed to do just that?

Why is their own faith so VERY dependent on the world's recognition of it? I can understand it if they would PREFER to have prayer in school and a nativity scene on every street corner, but I don't understand, the NEED. I don't know why they think its the equivalent of the apocalypse when someone tells them they can't.

As long as they have freedom of religion for themselves, why are they so afraid of neutrality for the public? The very fact that they want it so badly makes ME want to resist it. For instance, I honestly find something downright sinister in the desperate desire to keep "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. How can it matter so much to their religion and not infringe on someone else's?

If they feel like less of a Christian because some sales girl didn't wish them a "Merry Christmas," then they've got insecurities that no form of Seasons Greetings can cure.
Posted By Anonymous Michele Jackson, Northridge, California : 9:42 PM ET
Lisa,

I was raised as a Hindu, but my paternal grandfather was Evengelist.CHristmas is not neccasary religious from my perspective. In the United States, people view, observe their religious practices more strictly then anywhere else. Christmas can be celebrated by people from other faith too, even Muslims. I have already experienced this.
Posted By Anonymous Ratna, New York, NY : 11:34 PM ET
I live in a very diverse community, and a good portion of my friends aren't Christian, but rather Mulism or Jewish.
Although I know which holiday my friends celebrate, our town seems to have converted all holiday greetings into just "Season's Greetings!"
I've never understood why "Happy Holidays" isn't good enough for some people, because, as it is pointed out again and again, it's far easier for the cashier at the grocery store, the school secretary, or your bus driver to just say "Happy Holidays" than say "Wait, before you go, what religion do you practice? Oh, I see, what winter holidays are there in that religion? Alright then, ("fill in the blank" seasonal greeting). Goodbye!"
Posted By Anonymous Christianna : 9:25 AM ET
TO EVERYONE AT CNN,

MERRY-HAPPY CHRISTMACHANUKWANSAKA!

AND A HAPPY, GLORIOUS, PRODUCTIVE, AMAZING AND MEMORABLE NEW YEAR!!

CHEERS!

CRISTIAN BALTAZAR
LOS ANGELES, CA
Posted By Blogger Cristian : 1:53 PM ET
Lisa,
Oh, this is just so annoying. Some people make a career out of being offended.

Most of this holiday greetings hubbub started because stores began wishing customers "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year". Not because non-Christians might be offended by the mention of Christmas or the lack of mention of other holidays specifically. Instead it is about efficiency that conveniently breeds inclusiveness.

Can you imagine how it would bog down checkout lines if cashiers had to say the following to every customer? "Merry Christmas or Happy Hannukah or Blessed Eid or Happy Winter Solstice or Happy Kwanzaa, whichever may or may not apply, and Happy New Year unless you're Jewish or Chinese."

Happy Holidays is all-inclusive and efficient, not a bow to political correctness but to time constraints. Also, I would prefer "Happy Holidays" over being asked what my personal belief system is while being checked out at the store.

What is WalMart supposed to do? Ask each customer's religion and then give them the appropriate greeting?

That is so ridiculous on so many levels. It would be equivalent to expecting cashiers to replace the saying, "Have a nice day" with, "Are you going to have a nice day, or do you expect some kind of trouble?"

For instance, if the cashier told me "Have a nice day.", and later that day I was going to have a root canal, I would not excoriate that cashier for not probing into my personal affairs to find out if a nice day would be possible for me before issuing that statement.

If I were not a Christian, I would be no more offended if wished a Merry Christmas than I am when I hear the "Happy Holidays" greeting as the Christian that I am.

These "War on Christmas" folks obviously think that they are the only ones entitled to celebrate a holiday this time of year. And they must also think that, because so many of them spend their money on buying Christmas gifts and doodads, they can dictate that everybody specifically cater only to them. Now THAT is offensive.
Posted By Anonymous duckthunder2001 : 2:13 PM ET
If you have a Christmas Tree, if you are celebrating Christmas by giving gifts, if you see me on the street and you believe in Christ, say Merry Christmas. I whole heartedly agree with Mr Martin, and there is an attack on Christianity in this country. It's OK to stand up for anything else, but stand up for Christianity and you get this backlash, like some of the comments on this web site. MERRY CHRISTMAS.
Posted By Anonymous KATHY : 1:55 PM ET
What are we supposed to do? - check with Al Sharpton to see what new affront "offends" us today? No one is forcing us to say Merry Christmas to begin with or to say it back to someone...

What's happening in this country ? Does religious tolerance only extend to non-Christians ?
Posted By Anonymous aj huntington, ny. : 2:25 PM ET
If I know what a person celebrates, then I will wish them a merry/happy/blessed whatever. If not, it is happy holidays. I may be a Christian, but that does not mean I should force my beliefs on others. Plus, "Happy Holidays" can include the new year as well as whatever else it is one celebrates.

Do ya notice how a lot of people "fighting" the concocted war on Christmas are the very ones who do not live up to the Christian ideals they say they believe in? I am pretty sure Jesus isn't too thrilled with Bill O'Reilly's alleged sexual harrassment of a co-worker. Ditto with Rush Limbaugh and his hypocritical drug addiction. How ironic that they should give a damn-- if you'll pardon the expression-- about holiday greetings from greeters at a mall, but not about how many of those people are among the working poor Jesus would try to support.

Also, I think it was in the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus tells people not to use their piety to show off (not to let people see they are fasting, etc.). Perhaps if some of these so-called Christians actually went to church more often (it has been reported that many of the right-wing pundits do not regularly attend), they might have picked up this lesson.

I don't believe God is about hate, and this is but one example of the hate some people try to spread in the name of religion.

Of course, kicking up dust over this is yet another way to divert attention from the real war, the one that is killings thousands of American soldiers as well as innocent people in Iraq and Afghanistan. Just how much airtime on all the different programs did the war on Christmas steal away from issues that matter???

Happy Holidays to all, and to all a good night! "Peace" works pretty well, too. God knows we ALL could use that!

-Norah, West Chester, PA
Posted By Anonymous Anonymous : 4:36 PM ET
Lisa, you make a very important point. I would like to add though that as a college freshman I remember wishing a classmate Merry Christmas and upon returning from break a professor told me I should apologize for offending a non-christian.

My bestfriend, who practices the Jewish faith pointed out to me that there was nothing wrong with what I had said and that the real offense is when people are told to keep greetings to themselves, reassuring me that I am not a bad person.
So to everyone out there making a big deal...get a life and stop preying on those who are content with their lives. Blessings are universally positive no matter what spiritual path a person takes.
Posted By Blogger gomsu : 12:58 AM ET
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