Having lived in the “Bible Belt,” my expectations are up for grabs. When attempting to be polite and “politically correct” and wish people, “Happy Holidays!” I’m met with angry stares, side-eyes and snorts. “You wish me a Merry Christmas,” they’ll scoff before shuffling away from the counter muttering prayers for my damned soul under their breath. Working in the service industry, I try not to let the truly insane opinions of people get to me.
Recently I was serving a lady at the counter of my part-time job. I handed her change and said, “If we don’t see you, have a happy holiday!” because for all I know she celebrates Kwanzaa or sacrifices virgins to the devil to get into the holiday spirit. There’s no way in the 20-second interaction we had that I’d be able to discover what religious denomination she participates in. As soon as the words left my lips she narrowed her eyes and put her hand on mine and whispered, “It is Christmas, you wish me a Merry Christmas, Christ died for your sins.” Without missing a beat I placed my hand on top of hers and whispered back, “No, because I’m Jewish.” Although I am not a Jew, it was clear I’d shocked her. She shuffled away from the counter as if I’d just whispered a stream of obscenities at her. Similar instances happened for the past week, and I only imagine that as the holidays get closer more people will make their opinions heard.
If you’re one of those people who corrects people when they wish you “Happy Holidays,” let me put something into perspective for you: in December, Buddhists celebrate Bodhi Day, Atheists celebrate Winter Solstice, Jews celebrate Hanukkah, and Muslims celebrate holy days. So, when you correct someone about wishing you a “Happy Holiday,” you’re acting like the worst type of special snowflake there is: one that discounts every other religious celebration as if it doesn’t exist. Maybe everyone should wear a nametag saying what holiday they celebrate so no one gets offended. Or maybe we should start a collective jar where religious zealots have to put a quarter in a jar every time they get in a stew over a benign remark, and then we take that money and feed a ton of hungry people.
Remember this holiday season that people took the “Christ” out of Christmas years ago. I imagine it was around the same time people started getting trampled on Black Friday so they could give their loved ones three dollar headphones. Consumerism is primarily how the United States views this holiday season and to deny that shows just how disconnected from reality you are. It’s projected that for the collective holiday season Americans will spend around 7.4 billion dollars. The holidays are a time to spend with loved ones, eat lots of cookies, and yes, celebrate the religion you’ve chosen. To correct and nitpick at people in the service industry to keep the christ in your Christmas shows a level of vigilance that will only push people away from your religion. There are plenty of reasons to celebrate the holidays, but I’ll take the most pleasure when it ‘s over so I can stop being force-fed other people’s religious agendas.
—Follow Shawn Binder on Twitter: @ShawnBinder