“Happy holidays!” When I was growing up I heard this familiar expression sprinkled liberally among others: Merry Christmas, Season’s Greetings, Happy Hanukkah, Happy New Year. I understood Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, but I wasn’t so sure about the others. I remember asking my mother about Season’s Greetings when I saw it on a sign in front of a local synagogue. She explained it something like this: Jewish people celebrate Hanukkah around the same time we celebrate Christmas. Pretty much everyone celebrates the new year which is not a religious time like Christmas and Hanukkah. Season’s Greetings and Happy Holidays include the entire season, for everyone, from Thanksgiving to January, instead of just one particular day.
Using greetings such as Happy Holidays and Season’s Greetings made sense to my five- or six-year-old self. It seemed much more convenient than trying to list all the possible holidays in one greeting or trying to figure out which holidays were celebrated by any particular person. Most importantly, the idea appealed to my sense of fairness and allowed me to include everyone as Mrs. Reeves, my kindergarten teacher, taught me to do. Because my mother’s explanation was delivered purely and simply in the loving spirit of the season, those greetings remained pure and sincere in my heart and mind.
Using inclusive greetings still makes sense to my fifty-something-year-old self, particularly since there are even more cultural and religious events celebrated in our midst. There are more people to greet. There are more celebrations to bless. There is more joy to share!
If you observe something other than Christmas or in addition to Christmas, I wish you the grandest of celebrations. Whatever you celebrate, or if you don’t celebrate at all, I wish you love. I wish you enough. I wish you peace.