Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Season's Greetings!

There is a lot of fuss about what you say to other people, around the holidays.  And it's not just Christians with the 'war on Christmas' argument either.  I've seen people of all religions, including Pagan, get bent out of shape when someone wished them the 'wrong' holiday greeting.  I think it's a bit crazy, for a lot of different reasons.

Most of us don't go around with our religious status plastered across our chest.  The people I pass on the street most likely have no idea of what my beliefs are, or of what holidays I celebrate.  Sure, I wear a pentacle ring, just like many people wear a cross necklace, so it is possible to have some idea, but even with those clues, you can't know for certain what someone's specific religion or holidays are.

Where I think the crazy kicks in is that people make assumptions.  Many people assume that everyone else is the same religion as they are, and therefor should celebrate the same holidays.  While others assume that people should magically know that they celebrate different holidays and what those are.

Not only are these assumptions pretty wild, but in a lot of ways they are very self-centered.  If you assume everyone else is the same as you, and get offended when they aren't, you aren't allowing for other people to have their own individuality.  You are starting with the assumption that not only is your way right but that everyone else should do things the way you do. 

If, on the other hand, you expect other people to honor your own holidays (especially if you are one of those who gets offended if someone wishes you Merry Christmas, even though that is still the social standard), you are expecting people to prioritize your own beliefs over their own.  Or expecting them to somehow not only memorize all the different holidays but also mystically know which one you are honoring.

And beyond all of this, I think people forget why we wish other people Happy Holidays (or whatever specific holy day you are celebrating).  We are spreading cheer, offering our well wishes, and generally hoping things are going good for other people.  We are, quite literally, blessing other people.

Yet, it seems that this is something to be offended by.  Sometimes I think it is a good idea to take a step back from the language and look at what the words actually mean.  I have never had anyone wish me Merry Christmas with the intent of converting me to Christianity.  I take the words as the good wishes that they are meant to be, and don't get flustered that someone didn't wish me a Blessed Yule.

This way of thinking about the meaning behind words is something that can be used throughout the year, not just around the holidays.  There are so many different things we say with words that we can choose to take offense over or we can choose to accept the heart of what the words represent. 

One that immediately comes to mind is when someone says, "I'll pray for you."  Chances are, whoever is praying will pray to the deity they work with (whether it is God or Zeus or Gaia), and not to the deities that I work with.  I don't feel this is something I should be upset by!  If someone cares enough to pray for me, I am touched that they are thinking about me that way. 

To even take the extreme case, if someone knows that I am not a Christian and says instead, "I'll pray for your soul," I prefer to think that they believe they are wanting the best for me.  To me, this sort of comes back to the idea that other people can't make me feel things, they can only do what they are going to do and I can choose to let it upset me or not.  Sure, it would be nice if everyone in the world not only accepted other faiths but honored other people's rights to practice those faiths in peace.  But that isn't the world we live in (yet!), and so I'll live in the world we have now.

I can get all upset by other people's words, and work myself up into a lather.  I can start ranting at the person in the grocery store for wishing me a Merry Christmas, or at the one who lectures me for saying "Happy Holidays" instead.  I can fume inside and let my anger at the attitudes and actions of others eat me up.  But at the end of the day, I am the one who is suffering.  I am the one who is upset and no longer happy.

My own celebrations aren't made any less because someone wished me a Merry Christmas instead of Blessed Yule.  My Solstice isn't diminished because it wasn't named.  My holidays aren't validated by other people's acknowledgement of them.  I do what I do and that works for me.

I prefer to just accept the wishes sent my way, and let go of any objections to the greetings I give.  Sometimes I wish people Season's Greetings or Happy Holidays.  Sometimes I say Merry Christmas.  I don't always think it through.  Most of the time, I just repeat back what someone else said to me.  I smile and think happy thoughts at people because it makes me feel better! 

I feel the holidays should be a time of joy, of family, of happiness and of laughter.  These are the things that I call upon, and these are the things I wish to others.  So to everyone out there, may your holidays (whichever you celebrate!) be full of love and light, family and friends, joy and laughter!

Seasons Greetings and Happy Holidays to all!

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