Most of my Christian friends are people of good intention. Many remember to wish me Happy New Year when it matters to me, spiritually; that’s in September. They understand that I do not celebrate December 25 as anything but a social day off and an excuse for gift-giving and good cheer. They wish me a Happy Hanukkah or Happy New Year in December.
For the last three or four years, a December meme has been going around Facebook that asks people to “create good will” at Christmas. If you are Jewish, wish everyone “Happy Hanukkah”. If you are African American, wish everyone “Happy Kwanzaa”… and so on. It got millions of shares. But, it’s exactly the opposite of grace during the Christian holiday of Christmas and the New Calendar Year.
If I, as a Jewish person, wish a Christian “Happy Hanukkah” the answer would invariably be, “but I am not Jewish.” I, as a Jewish person, have just failed in wishing the person cheer.
The “create good will” tactic effectively outs me as a minority while being socially ungraceful. If I say no greeting, I get to be invisible as a member of a religious minority while being socially ungraceful for the month of December or longer.
Two years ago, I started to answer that post with my plan to create good will.
I want to create good will this December.
If I know you are Jewish, I will wish you “Happy Hanukkah.”
If I know you are Christian, I will wish you “Merry Christmas.”
If I know you are African-American, and I know you celebrate Kwanzaa, I will wish you “Happy Kwanzaa.” If I know you are Christian, I may also wish you “Merry Christmas.”
If I know you are Pagan, I will wish you “A Cool Yule, Blessed Be!”
If I know you are Buddhist, on December 8, I will wish you “Happy Bodhi Day”. (That’s the day when Siddhartha Gautama attained enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree and became the Buddha.)
If I know you are Muslim, I know that there are no Muslim holidays in December this year. I looked it up. Your calendar is lunar, so you holidays are not fixed to the seasons like mine are.
If you are someone I see casually in a store or on a street, I will wish you “Happy Holidays.” Because in America, a person has religious freedom.
If you are someone I care about, I will either wish you “Happy Holidays” or take the time to ask whether you celebrate Kwanzaa or Christmas or Hanukkah or Solstice/Yule or some other holiday or no holiday at all, this time of year.
In that way, I might learn more about you before the new year.
It’s on my website now at this link.
Evangelical Christians and their good intentions
One of my Christian friends insisted on wishing me a Merry Christmas. He insisted it was being said with good intentions. When probed, he explained his obligation to show his good intentions by showing me the way to Jesus. His intention is good, based on his faith. However, it disrespects my right to manage my own immortal soul.
America as a Christian Country
I feel there is a deeper disrespect coming from people who insist that America is a Christian country, and therefore, all its residents must celebrate the Nativity of Jesus.
Not all Americans have a religion. Many do not claim a specific religious affiliation (22 percent, nationally). There is quite a bit of religious diversity in America. Take a look. It may be a surprise to you, but after Christianity, there are significant numbers of Muslims, Buddhists, and Jews living throughout the country. Here’s a map of what the second-biggest religious population group is in each state. Saying that all these people are obligated to celebrate Christmas carries with it a statement that only Christians are welcome in America.
Here is a chart of the non-Christian holidays being celebrated this December:
Dec 2, Sunday at nightfall-Monday, Dec 10 at sundown. Hanukkah, Jewish
Dec 8, Saturday Bodhi Day (Rohatsu) Buddhist
Dec 21,Friday Yule – Litha Wicca/Pagan
Dec 26, Wednesday Zarathosht Diso (Death of Prophet Zarathustra) Zoroastrian (source)