Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Happy Holidays…is what terrorists say

Happy Holidays…
…is what terrorists say.
Merry Christmas from Jack and Avery

So reads the Christmas card being sent by Jack Donaghy and Avery Jessop on 30 Rock. And in a season dominated by “Happy Holidays” and “Season’s Greetings,” it’s an unusual sentiment. The fictional Jack and Avery celebrate Christmas, and they don’t care who knows.

I celebrate Christmas. My view of it is somewhat nuanced and complex, though. I don’t believe the 25th is the calendar date on which an eight pound, six-ounce, newborn infant Jesus, with his golden fleece diapers, don’t even know a word yet, just a little infant and so cuddly, but still omnipotent, came into this world.

But I do celebrate the message of peace, tolerance, and compassion attributed to Jesus, even if I view the account in Luke 2 as more mythology and allegory than history. Nevertheless, if someone sends me a Christmas card depicting an infant in a manger on a winter night with shepherds and wise men standing watch, I don’t consider it cause to start an argument.

Moreover, if someone doesn’t celebrate Christmas at all but wishes me a happy Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Festivus, Winter solstice, or anything else, I’m happy to embrace the good in whatever message is associated with that celebration and wish the same upon them in return.

A free and open discussion of one another’s beliefs increases understanding and mutual respect and decreases the narrow-mindedness that leads to hate, bigotry, and violence. The irony is that we may publicly demur from using specific words for the sake of political corectness, while in private (or not) take actions that are in reality far more harmful.

A Christmas or other holiday card for many is the most public statement they make all year. It’s the vehicle for reaching out to distant friends and family to wish them well and to remind them that they are cared for. Such a gesture, regardless of whether the sentiment expressed is consistent with the recipient’s belief system, is no cause for offense. Instead, it’s an opportunity to share the good of whatever belief system we espouse, whether it’s divine or humanistic at its core. And as the recipient of such a message, it may prompt us to learn about others, what they believe, and what motivates them to be better people.

As we read, write, speak, and listen, may we use our words to open minds, to enhance understanding, and to foster mutual respect. And through our actions may we be merciful, comfort those who mourn, and be peacemakers. Merry Christmas.


  1. Good thoughts.

    Nina Totenberg could stand to read this:

  2. "Nina Totenberg could stand to read this:"

    Which part? The paranoid-reactionary mountain-out-of-molehill writeup? Or the hundred+ comments from "Christian" readers calling her "douchebag" and "liberal ho"? Ah, the spirit of Christmas!

  3. The alternative titles for the holiday season (mostly from Alan Alda's character) in that 30 Rock episode were brilliant.

    Oh, and well said.

  4. I received a card this year that said, "Politically correct greetings of a wintertime nature." Totally funny. Laughed and laughed at that one. Another thing I laugh at? A relative of mine (by marriage) always says the Christmas prayer. And each and every year, in the midst of said prayer, he says something along the lines of "we realize that our Savior Jesus was NOT born at this time, that He was born at another time, nevertheless we are grateful." I snicker every time. Sadly one of my Yahoos is sick and I'll miss the Christmas party with the above mentioned prayer.

    This is turning into a book of sorts, sorry. But I grew up next door to a professor of "Comparable Religion" at the BYU. He's a Presbyterian minister who converted to being a Mormon. I ran into him yesterday. Turns out he started a "Military Chaplain" graduate program at that same BYU. He explained the need for Mormon kids from the BYU to ditch the judging and embrace all beliefs while they're doing their clergy stuff in the military. I told him he needed to teach "how to be Mormon" lessons.

    Great post, by the way. Merry Christmas.

  5. Can you imagine how Asian folks feel when we say Happy New Year? They must be planning our demise by that point.

  6. I have to say I enjoy your blog, you seem to be moderate and reasonable in your thoughts and share many activities I enjoy! Keep up the good work. I am a non native Utahn and have a hard time fitting into this ultra conservative and religious State and reading your blog comforts me knowing others think like me. You seem to navigate these waters well.

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