Standing Under the Happy Holidays Umbrella Is Not an Indictment of Faith
There is nothing wrong with the notion of ‘Happy Holidays’ as a proper holiday greeting. Despite the hollow cries of foul play by the conservative, religious machine and it’s perceived War on Christmas by what many of its followers consider to be an ideological uprising by a nation of Godless, heartless liberals who have turned the Christmas tree into a holiday tree, banned Christmas plays from the schools, and turned Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer into an unapologetic atheist who now refuses to pull Santa’s sleigh, because it is considered to be slave labor and an attack on his religious beliefs. It’s one thing to be an Ebenezer Scrooge who sees Christmas as irrational foolishness, but it’s something totally different to be labeled as what many conservative, political pundits like Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, Gretchen Carlson, Greg Gutfeld, and other conservative pundits refer to as anti-Christian secularism.
Just recently, the thrilla from Wasilla, Sarah Palin, weighed in disapprovingly on the Obama administration’s Christmas card. The card is a very pretty picture of a fireplace, some Christmas trimmings, and Bo the family dog, but Sarah Palin was unimpressed. Palin questioned the value selection of such non-traditional, Christmas imagery; mainly the lack of a Christmas tree. She was also unimpressed with Bo the family dog being the focal point.
Sarah Palin’s criticism is one of the oldest conservative tricks in the book, as conservatives have successfully conned the world into giving them the benefit of the doubt regarding Americanized Christianity, while only giving Godless liberals the doubt–which is basically what conservatives consider to be a doubt in God through the progressive yearning to uphold the ideology of ‘Separation of Church and State.’ Palin’s move is right out of the same playbook that saw Fox News’ Jesse Watters confront Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee about his willingness to use the term ‘holiday tree’ instead of Christmas tree, with the implied logic that embracing anything other than the traditional, conservative, Christmas ideology somehow diminishes one’s Christian faith.
Despite the sinfully painted inability to progressively hoist up Christmas being the biggest strike to the secularism of the term ‘Happy Holidays,’ Jesse Watters did pose one point that seemed to resonate when he acknowledged the fact that Christmas is a federal holiday, and since it is a federally recognized holiday, why is it a problem to recognize it? Poor Governor Chafee had no answer for this as Watters continued to get the best of him, but not so fast conservatives. There is still an argument to be made here.
Yes, Christmas is a federally acknowledged holiday, and the federal government shuts down to recognize it. And with that action, the federal government has given the seal of approval to the Christian holiday of Christmas, but this aspect needs to be put into a proper framework based on when and by who this was enacted into a federal holiday. And according to my research, it was President Ulysses S. Grant who signed Christmas into law back in 1870. Yes, it was President Ulysses S. Grant and not one of the famed, conservatively perceived, Christmas and Christianity friendly Founding Fathers, which indicates that the Founding Fathers obviously took the idea of ‘Separation of Church and State’ more seriously than the so-called Founding Father experts of today’s conservative camps would like to acknowledge.
The fact that it took a Yankee like Grant to make Christmas a federal holiday shows just how illogical it is for the conservative creed to try and claim an ideologically linked ownership between the Founding Fathers, the Constitution, and Christmas. In fact, seeing as how the Founding Fathers, along with every other president before Grant, did not make Christmas a federal holiday; it is very possible that a saying like ‘Happy Holidays’ might be more in line with their ‘Separation of Church and State’ ideology than previously thought.
After all, Grant’s decision to make Christmas a federal holiday back in 1870 was arguably the feasible thing to do then, but there is no guarantee that it is still feasible that it should be continued specifically as it is today or tomorrow. War on Christmas followers who believe that it is feasible to continue it sound just as vaguely out-of-touch as presidential nominee Ron Paul when he suggested that the country revert back to the early 1900’s for U.S. hurricane responses, but this is not 1870, and it is not the early 1900’s either.
Life continues to evolve as time continues to churn away, and the rise of ‘Happy Holidays’ is an essential gauge of that evolution. Instead of seeing it as a War on Christmas, people should try to view it as an acknowledgement of the new. If it was no problem for Grant to start a new tradition of having Christmas as a federal holiday, then there should be no problem for us, in 2011, to start another new tradition of accepting the umbrella of Happy Holidays; an umbrella that is big enough, wide enough, and inclusive enough that we all can stand under it as we end the year together.
So policy aside, it all goes back to President Obama’s Thanksgiving Day speech that many of the War on Christmas conservatives were just as displeased with, because they felt that the president eroded the presence of God by not mentioning God directly enough. But, what the president did say was still more than worthy of a listen and more than worthy of enactment, specifically when he said this.
“We’re also grateful for the Americans who are taking time out of their holiday to serve in soup kitchens and shelters, making sure their neighbors have a hot meal and a place to stay. This sense of mutual responsibility – the idea that I am my brother’s keeper; that I am my sister’s keeper – has always been a part of what makes our country special.”
If those words are not the essence of the spirit of Christmas, Thanksgiving, God, America, and our humanity globally as a whole, then what words would you suggest? It doesn’t matter if you choose to celebrate or acknowledge the season by saying Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanza, Happy Ramadan, or Happy Holidays—it’s the embracing of kindness, caring and love that really counts, not whose holiday is the superior early bird that gets the only worm. What’s the point of having all of the hype of God or Christmas in your words, when you have none of the giving spirit of God and or Christmas in your actions?
Honestly, most of us don’t have time to sit around and rattle off all of those different greetings until we find the one that best suits you, and most of us don’t really want to just pick one and ram it down your throat, because it best suits us. So if it’s someone who you’re really not sure as to what they celebrate, let the term ‘Happy Holidays’ be the olive branch, because it’s better to let people define themselves, if at all possible, than it is to blindly define one through your comfort zone.
So Happy Holidays to all of you, and may whichever holiday or holidays you choose to celebrate bring joy to your heart and to the hearts of your family, because standing under the Happy Holidays umbrella is not an indictment of your faith—it is a compliment to the tolerance of your character!