December 12, 2012

Moonlighting: A blog by Judy Cools

I grew up in a larger town than Ludington, my folks operating a retail business. We had customers and salesmen from all over the social map. I remember asking my mother about the proper way to wish someone the best of the holiday season, particularly if they are of a different faith or if you don’t know which faith (if any) they claim.

She said that she always felt “Seasons Greetings” or “Happy Holidays” was best, and safe for almost anyone. Reasonable, I thought. Even if someone is not religious, the Christmas season is all around us. Unless you choose to live in a cave for 2 or 3 months, everyone will be in the season, and affected in some way by the holidays.

Mom even went a bit further and said she’d asked a Jewish client what greeting he preferred. He said if a non-Jew wished him a Happy Chanukah, it was nice that they were reaching out to wish him well on his holiday. If someone wished him well for a holiday he didn’t observe (Merry Christmas) he took it as their way of sharing something that was dear to them. No harm, no foul. These were all sincere good wishes – be happy for them.

This philosophy served me well through most of my life. But one day some years ago, a newsletter went out from an office where I worked and it wished the recipients Happy Holidays. It actually made someone angry! They sent a letter to complain that the only proper greeting was Merry Christmas.

Obviously, this person’s view was a bit narrow. Not everyone receiving the newsletter celebrated Christmas, we knew that for a fact. And why would a professional office want to offend its clientele? In addition, the newsletter went out in mid-November. Happy Holidays covered Thanksgiving, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Chanukah, and New Year’s. It covered people who do not observe a religious celebration during that time, and it covered those who do. It was a sincere and inoffensive gesture wishing happiness. Really – how narrow minded do you have to be to find that to be a problem?

Some large retail stores have been in the news the last few seasons, with similar complaints and responses, policy statements, and retractions all about how to wish the customers well during the holidays. I’m all for equal rights and I live to abolish prejudice and discrimination, but I just don’t understand people who get so wound up over “Happy Holidays.” My own wish for the holidays is that people just relax, and especially during this season just live and let live. As the song goes, “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.”


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