I’m not going to get offended when you wish me “Happy Holidays” this year. I just wanted to let you know that ahead of time, because I feel like in some circles this has become an offensive phrase, one to be corrected with a harrumph and rolled eyes--the true spirit of any good holiday. And I’ll wish the same back to you, unless I know what you celebrate, because it would be weird for me if you wished me a Happy Bodhi Day on the basis that you’re Hindu. I wouldn’t be offended, I suppose, but it wouldn’t mean much. So I won’t wish you what I’m celebrating, because it might not be yours to celebrate. (Don’t get me wrong--you’re welcome to join me. SPCN has a great Christmas Eve service, and I make some awesome gingerbread.)
What I may do, if I’m bold enough, is apologize to you on behalf of people I’d otherwise call brothers and sisters, who may have replied to your greeting in frustration or correction. It turns my stomach to hear the name of this holiday I love--the celebration of the birth of my savior, no less--spoken in that tone of aggression, and I hope you realize it wasn’t really directed toward you. After centuries of being the clear favorite, a push for diversity acceptance can sometimes feel like we’re being tossed onto the street, when in fact it’s just a matter of making room for other people at the table.
So I’ll wish you, “Happy Holidays,” or perhaps even better, I’ll pause in the race and rush and ask you what you celebrate, how you celebrate, what you’re looking forward to. Because odds are, even if we share the same phrase, we celebrate differently. I hope your celebration is true and real for you, that it brings you to a place of peace and community, that it is more than motions and sayings but that it binds you and changes you a little every year, that it makes you a better you and draws you to the divine.
In an unbroken world, we would sit and talk about our hopes and expectations and frustrations with our respective holidays. We would laugh and tear up, nod enthusiastically or raise an eyebrow in question, but leave the conversation knowing each other better. But there’s a line behind me and a traffic jam in front of you and if we’re not careful, we’ll each wind up only wishing each other a good holiday and not actually having one. So peace be with you. May you know you are not alone, and know that you are loved. May you celebrate. May you have laughter. And may you be happy, whatever your holiday.