It is Saturday, December 23rd, 2017. I just got back from the gym. As I was leaving, the young man behind the counter wished me a merry Christmas. Within half a second, he raised one hand, put the other over his mouth, and profusely apologized as if he uttered a slur of some kind, and said happy holidays. He went on to say something about not being able to tell what I am or celebrate. (I am more of a Festivus kind of guy these days)
Well, for the record, I am not Christian, and I do not celebrate the religious aspect of the holiday. Growing up in New York City, I just knew Christmas as a time of year where:
- Everyone seemed friendlier.
- There were great cartoons.
- There was a vacation from school.
- And yes, presents.
So, even after I became aware of Christmas as a religious institution, I still looked it as holiday that you didn’t have to be Christian to like, appreciate, and enjoy! I never viewed the wishing of a merry Christmas as an attempt to lure me into Christianity, or ignore the religion of my birth. I received it with the intention that I perceived it to be given.
Now, there are racial and ethnic slurs that I understand why they’re so offensive, and why parents would raise their youth to understand why. A well intended Merry Christmas does not fall into that category. Nor should it be treated or responded to as if it were. This young man behind the counter at my gym didn’t need to react as if he committed an unforgivable sin.
The country is still predominantly Christian, his intention was to wish me well. If I didn’t want to recognize Christmas, I could have and would have politely pointed it out, but there would not have been any need for me to take any great offense to it.
Yes, over the years I have transitioned to the philosophy of when in doubt wish someone a happy holidays over a Merry Christmas. And while I do think there is a time and a place for political correctness, I believe this would be an example of it going to far.
With that, and to all who celebrate it:
And to the rest,