Joy to the World?

Posted on December 12, 2011

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The holidays are steadily approaching , and like the 12-year-old that I am inside I love everything about them.  I’d love it more if I lived somewhere cold and snowy, but I make the most of what I have.  I love the carols, even the ones I have heard a thousand times before…even in maddening Muzak  form.  I love seeing neighborhoods ablaze in twinkling white and/or color lights, with inflatable giant Santa’s or snow globes, and motorized lighted deer.  I love seeing red and green and spruce garland, and the smell of cinnamon, and gingerbread.  I love Christmas trees, all of them, for the saddest looking Charlie Brown tree to the giant, impeccably decorated mall or department store trees.  I love the turkey, and cookies, and pies, I even love fruitcake.  There really isn’t anything that I don’t love about this time of year, except one thing.  There is one thing, one part of this time of year I dread, and it’s the arguing, the constant bickering that takes place starting shortly after Thanksgiving.  I am not talking about bickering and fighting within my family, no…I am talking about society as a whole.

I can’t say as I know what it is like in other countries, but here, in the U.S. there is always some stink being made about all the holidays that come this time of year.  Take some of these for example:

http://www.abc6.com/story/16214799/chorus-parents-outraged-over-state-house-tree-lighting

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2011/12/nativity-scene-is-a-superstition-says-atheist-group-but-santa-can-stay/

I could post more, but, I think just these two illustrate the negativity quite well.

Really, all of this, all the arguing about the holidays, and people taking Christ out of Christmas, or putting too much Christ in their Christmas, or people getting their panties in a twist about a menorah being put up, or discussing Ramadan, or Kwanzaa…all the bickering and fighting boils down to lack of respect. It’s all “My way or the highway” and if you don’t celebrate my way, then you’re doing it wrong.” It’s a lack of respect for our fellow humans.  Good grief, calling a party a Holiday Party instead of a Christmas Party, is not going to take away the spirit of the holiday, which if I remember correctly is supposed to be about good will and peace towards mankind..besides the word Holiday means Holy Day and, what do you know…that encompasses many things this time of year, and really it’s easier to say than ChristmaHanaRamaKwanzikahMas.

Acknowledging that there are other holidays that are important to people this time of year shouldn’t have any affect on how YOU observe this holiday, if it does then it’s you’re own damn fault, because you are focusing on the wrong thing. No one can take Christ out of your Christmas but you….only you are responsible for putting the emphasis, or not, on Christ, or Santa, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster.  Whether you celebrate Christmas as a Christian holiday, or a secular one, or you celebrate Solstice, or Hanukkah, or Ramadan, they all are supposed to have and element of joy, triumph, or reflection, and peace.   Christians, it being about the birth of a child destined to die for the sins of mankind, a child who would grow up and teach about love, and loving everybody, getting pissy because someone says Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas, seems pretty anti thematic to what the holiday is about .  As a secular holiday it still, traditionally, is supposed to be about love for one another, kindness, peace among the people.  In Hanukkah, and Ramadan, I imagine, from what I know and understand of these holidays, the themes are forgiveness, atonement, thankfulness, and remembering all the ways you have been blessed.  How, with so many common threads weaving between these holidays, can there be so much animosity?

Lack of respect.  Lack of respect for another persons beliefs, and traditions…that is where the animosity comes from, and it comes from all sides.  People pointing their fingers at someone else, blaming them for, the “downfall” of their holiday, instead of pointing the finger where it belongs…at them self.  Respect should be mutual, and the whole stance that respect should be earned is laziness at its best.  If you want people to respect you, you need to show respect…not for what it will get you, but because it is the right thing to do.  Respect is not accepting ones beliefs as your own, but recognizing that their beliefs are as important to them, as yours are to you, and who are you to tell them that they are wrong, and vice versa.  Respect is, when someone wishes you a Merry Christmas, even if you don’t celebrate, is taking it as the wish of goodwill that is intended, because how are they to know you don’t celebrate (obviously, in some situations a persons dress might indicate they don’t), and what good does yelling at them, and making them feel like crap do?  Did it make you feel better?  Is that really how you want to make yourself feel better?  The same goes the other way, when someone says Happy Holidays to you, instead of launching into a tirade about people taking Christ out of Christmas, why don’t you stop and think how Christ would respond to “Happy Holidays”  would he respond with anger and righteous indignation?  Or would he respond in love, say thank you, and wish the person well, or a Happy Holiday, or even a Merry Christmas in return?    You want people to respect your Holiday?  Then you need to respect other people’s holidays too.

This time of ear is supposed to be joyful, and magical, and fun.  It’s supposed to be about love, family, thankfulness, and giving.  The next time someone calls it a holiday tree, smile.  The next time someone wishes you Merry Christmas, wish them Merry back.  If you say Happy Holidays and someone rips into you, try to show them love anyway, and don’t spread their negativity to others.  When someone tells you they don’t celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday, don’t belittle, or make them feel bad for their traditions and beliefs, because you wouldn’t want someone making you feel bad about yours.  When the city wants to put up a giant Menorah for display next to the tree and the nativity, be joyful that we love in a country where we can have religious displays out for all too see…that no one has to hide their faith…even if you don’t believe in the same God, or any God, be grateful that others can without fear, or shame.    Bring the joy, and wonder back to the season.  Bring back the love, and the peace and the goodwill.  Don’t make excuses.  Don’t wait until someone is nice to you first, or only do it if others are nice to you.  Do it even if you don’t get the same response in kind. Don’t do it because you want goodwill back, do it because it is the right thing to do.

Enemy soldiers, during WWI, put aside their differences, and their guns, to celebrate Christmas together, with people who only hours before had been shooting at them, and had killed their comrades in peace, and brotherhood.  What is our excuse?   If those men and boys, could look their enemy, true battlefield enemy, in the eye, wish them a Merry Christmas, or Happy Holidays, and break bread with them, laugh with them…share joy and love with them, then why is it so hard for us to realize how petty all of this arguing is.  If they could do it during a time of misery, death, and destruction, why can’t we?  None of our differences are so great that we can’t set them aside, for at least a little while, to share in the joy, love, and togetherness that this time of year brings…no matter what holiday you celebrate.  It just takes a little respect.

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