[The following is the second in a series of reprints in anticipation of the Christmas season. This entry was originally entitled "The Reason for the Season," and appeared at mwbh in December of 2006.]
You gotta be careful. Somebody at a department store the other day wished me a "Merry Christmas." It's a good thing their boss wasn't watching. I might have been Jewish and celebrating Chanukah, or African-American and celebrating that made-up holiday Kwaanza, or Muslim and celebrating Waqf al Arafa, or a Druid and celebrating the Winter Solstice (which is [the 21st], for all you Druids out there), or... have I left anyone out?
As a Catholic, I'm under no illusions that there has ever been any other resaon for all the fa-la-la-la-lah than Christmas, a term that originated with "Christ's Mass," which is what originally happened to celebrate that day. (By the way, kids, did you know that the Roman feast of Saturnalia was started in response to the early Christians celebration of Christmas, not the other way around? Check out what Mark Shea discovered. Hmmm...) But that's not going to stop the more "enlightened" among us from making the occasion as innocuous and non-offensive as humanly possible, even though one glance at the television specials will prove that no one is fooling anyone, except maybe themselves. The truth (which most people can't handle anyway) is, the use of generic holiday greetings at year end is nothing new. I remember "Seasons Greetings" on the streets of Milford, Ohio, when I was a kid. Plus there was some ridiculous song back then that went "Happy Holida-a-a-a-ays" or whatever. In recent years, I've taken to wishing people a "blessed holiday." For me, it's not just about Christmas, but it's about the whole twelve days that are supposed to comprise the actual holiday. That's why sometimes I send stuff to my family after the big day, just to keep the party going. It's a dirty job, but somebody's gotta do it.
Back home in Ohio, my family's celebration of Christmas tends to be low-key, just my siblings and their spouses with the grandkids coming over to exchange gifts and have dinner. Steve will make a late breakfast, or Pat and Mary will handle the dinner, depending on who shows up and when. Grandma and Grandpa both wear Santa Claus hats, and it's great to see them loosen up and get crazy like that once a year. I can't be there, of course, but a gift basket is on its way. Mom will complain that I'm wasting my money, and I'll remind her that it's being wasted on her. Wish I could be there.
Paul is going to be out of town to see his Ma for Christmas, so I told him he's getting his present on January 1, which Orthodox Christians and Eastern Catholics remember as St Basil's Day. The Greeks give presents on that day. Paul didn't want anything, probably because he forgot to get something for his dear old Dad. That same dear old Dad who remembers when his son was about eight or nine, and got the Old Man a bottle of mouthwash for Christmas. I acted grateful enough that he wouldn't notice how I knew, that his mother put him up to it. Bottom line is, it's payback time, and he's getting a really nice present whether he likes it or not, the little weasel!
The word "holiday" is a corruption of the term "holyday." In the end, there is no escape for the PC crowd from the spectre of history. Soooo... if you're working at a department store this year and some geek assistant manager with a bad tie and an equally bad hairpiece orders you to wish customers with a generic greeting, try saying "Happy Holydays." Maybe the ones who won't notice won't feel discriminated against (which won't bring their party down anyway, you can be sure of that), and maybe the ones who will notice will know that you know what they know, if you know what I mean.
At least that's what I mean.