Saturday, December 06, 2008

Is "Holiday" a Dirty Word?

Can anyone else relate to this? Since all the talk these last few years about "the war on Christmas," and people scoffing at store clerks who say "Happy Holidays" rather than "Merry Christmas," I find myself feeling very self-conscious every time I use the word "holiday." Will my words be interpreted as a grenade in this theoretical "war"? (BTW, Matt wrote a great post about how crazy this whole concept is, and how tangential to what Christ's people should be focusing on as we celebrate his birth.)

I often use the phrase "this holiday season," as in "blessings to you this holiday season," or whatnot. I think I used that on our Christmas cards last year, and we're using some variant of that on our Christmas card this year. (The aforementioned self-consciousness didnt have time to kick in because I was designing the card quickly on KodakGallery as Matt was urging me to hurry up because he had the Trivial Pursuit board all set up and ready to go.) To me, it extends the well-wish through New Year's and all. I'm not intentionally including or shunning Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, or trying to downplay Christmas. It's just a December pleasantry that used to be non-political and a completely acceptable expression of good will.

The other day, I was writing a whole batch of work e-mails, and while my first instinct was always to close by wishing the recipient (a Christian minister in every case) a good holiday season, I instead wrote "Christmas season," for fear they would think me a convictionless pagan if I used the H-word. The one exception was when the recipient was from a more liturgical tradition and I suddenly rethought the phrasing for a different reason. It's technically not the Christmas season until Dec. 25, so should I wish him a blessed Advent? Would he really care, one way or the other? I celebrate Advent, but I'd call it the Christmas season too. (But what do I know? I'm just a happy-holiday-wishing heathen.) In that case, I think I settled on "Have a nice day."

When did it get so complicated? Am I completely neurotic to even be worried about this? Given that many people who receive e-mails from me don't even read the last couple lines thoroughly enough to catch that my first name is Jessica, not Kelley or Kelly (see that rant here), I probably shouldn't worry about it. I'm not trying to make a political statement. I really just want to wish you joy and peace in this special time of year--whatever you want to call it.

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