Today, December 26, is known as Boxing Day in some parts of the world.
If you don’t celebrate Boxing Day, were you offended that I wished you a happy Boxing Day? Or did you just say, “Whatever, thanks, I guess.”
And if you do celebrate Boxing Day, were you offended that people who talk to you today don’t wish you a happy Boxing Day? Or did you just think, “Well, they don’t celebrate it, so, whatever, fine with me”?
Merry Christmas and other scandals
People wish me a Merry Christmas all the time. They usually smile when they are saying it. It’s sort of nice.
I’m a non-religious person from a Jewish family. My wife is a non-religious person from a Christian family. We have a Christmas tree with lights and give each other presents, but there are no decorations on our lawn. We sometimes light a menorah when we think about it. In the spring, my wife actually makes the best Passover Seder food you ever had, although of course we don’t prepare it in the way Orthodox Jews would.
If my family’s celebrations offend you, go screw yourself. They’re our celebrations, so we get to do what we want. That’s how it works here in America.
If you want to wish me a Merry Christmas, that’s nice. There’s no Christ in my life, but hey, I appreciate the warm sentiment. If you want to wish other people, including Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Zoroastrians, and atheists a warm and merry Christmas, good for you. If you want to go to church on Christmas morning, have a blast. If you want to stay home and open presents in your jammies, please enjoy yourself.
In general, the Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Zoroastrians, and atheists in our pretend melting pot here in America will smile back at you, so long as you don’t insist that they celebrate Christmas in whatever way you do. (The non-orthodox Jews were likely celebrating Christmas by going out for Chinese food, for the reason, steeped in long tradition, that they were off from work and none of the other restaurants were open.)
If I wish you, a Christian, a Happy Hanukkah, Happy Festivus, or Happy Holidays, with a smile, I hope you’ll accept in the same spirit as you would “Happy Boxing Day” — a bland smile to accept the good wishes for something you don’t celebrate.
What’s not okay
Having established that we can all wish each other a happy holiday of whatever kind we want, what’s not cool?
Assuming that you are in the majority so you are normal and the rest of us are somehow not normal or outside of the American tradition is offensive. About two-thirds of us in America are Christians, but that leaves an awful lot of non-Christians who are Americans, too. We belong here, just as you do. Our beliefs — or lack of beliefs — are just as legitimate as yours.
Wishing me Merry Christmas with an out-thrust jaw and a sneer as if it is supposed to be some sort of challenge or insult is classless and rude. It’s certainly not in the generous spirit of the holiday you’re supposed to be celebrating.
Insisting that I wish you a Merry Christmas is pretty silly; why would you insist that I or other non-Christmas-embracing types say something we don’t really mean?
Asking branches of government like the Post Office or City Hall to celebrate one particular religion isn’t really a good idea. Congress [and by extension other branches of government] shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. Regardless of what you may have heard about the First Amendment, it actually says that. I don’t pay taxes to have the government promote a specific religion.
So have a happy Boxing Day, even if you don’t celebrate it. And trust me — I’m smiling as I say that.