Friday, 26 December 2014

Your Offendedness Offends Me

It's Boxing Day now. Yesterday, I had a great (if weird) Christmas day with some amazing friends and my dad. A lot of my friends didn't have anywhere else to be so I didn't spend the day with my family so that I could get them all together to spend time at my house. One my friends has a three-year-old who spent Christmas with me because he has no other family to be with. One of my friends was raised a Jehovah's Witness and, at the age of 18, had her first ever Christmas. She had as much fun as the three-year-old for all the same reasons. It didn't matter that none of us really cared about the Nativity. It was definitely different to every other Christmas I've ever had, but I thought it was great. It was still about what Christmas was about - getting together with people you care about and sharing and laughing and wearing crappy hats.

I'm not religious. I never have been. I don't pretend to be. I still like Christmas. It's a cultural thing for me. It's something my family do and, though I know some of them claim to be Christian, we don't enforce any religious teaching strictly. I enjoy it. I like seeing my family, I like buying presents for the people I love.

Although I don't buy into the doctrine that gives society Christmas, I like some of the traditions the holiday has given us.

I like that it encourages people to take some time out of their lives to think of others - whether it's humankind as a whole, or just the people important to them. I like that people remember the importance of togetherness.

But I feel like, if the country I grew up in didn't have Christian foundations, I would still not buy into the prominent doctrine and I would still appreciate having a time of giving and togetherness. If it wasn't Christmas, it would be Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or something else, and I would feel exactly the same way.

Which is why this kind of shit annoys me:

I don't care what greeting you want to give people. Say "Merry Christmas" if you want, but don't act like that makes you better than someone who says "Happy Holidays". It just doesn't. You belittling them for giving a different greeting makes you a dick.

I don't understand why this is offensive. If anything, it is more considerate. I - and pretty much all of the people who I've seen sharing these pictures - live in a secular society that accepts all different religions. And Christianity is not the only religion that has a special occasion around this time. If someone says "Happy Holidays", they are not making broad assumptions about your religion - they know that you might be Christian, or Jewish, or atheist, or any other religion - and they want to wish you goodwill regardless. They're hoping that at a time when this country recognises a national holiday, you enjoy whatever you're doing with your life at that time, whether you're celebrating something or not.

Or maybe, they're including the New Year, which is relevant to everyone who uses this calendar, in with Christmas (or whatever) so would still come under the pluralised heading 'holidays'.

The fact is, I appreciate that someone wants to offer me joy. "Have a nice day" is good enough for me. But it doesn't always happen. This is generally the only time of year people will go out of their way to wish you goodwill (where I live in England at least; I hear people are much cheerier in America, for instance).

I think it's nice. I think anyone who doesn't is a fucking idiot. Taking someone else's kindness and getting upset about it because they said it wrong is the behaviour of the worst kind of narcissist.

The number of friends - good mates, who usually I really like - who I have seen sharing this has actually upset me. I hope by next year, people will have learned to appreciate when someone is being nice.

And in the meantime, I hope that everyone has some happy fucking holidays.

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