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…focusing outward…

November 23, 2011

As we are ALL very keenly aware, the holidays are coming…rather like a big rig truck going 110 mph, barreling at us with no signs of slowing down.

And, just as inevitably, the talk on Facebook, twitter and other social media, including the live and in person versions, has turned toward the mythical “war of Christmas”…well, maybe not as vehemently as all that, but certainly I am seeing an increase in the rather unpleasant rhetoric that reminds us that it’s “Merry Christmas” not “Happy Holidays”…and the like.

There’s the ever present thoughts “Keep Christ in Christmas” and “Reason for the Season” and other status updates…and my gut level reaction as a non-Christian to the whole mess….all of which make me realize one thing:

What a bunch of self-centered, self-focused, unthinking cads we must be.

We are so worried about being offended by whatever greeting someone gives us that we forget to consider the feelings of others.

And, if you read the tone of some of these meme-like status updates, they border on angry.

I had a personal experience last year with someone in which I wished her “Happy Holidays” and got a five minute tirade about how she was sick and tired of being discriminated against in the interest of political correctness.  At the end, she put her nose in the air and wished me a “Merry Christmas” with a growl in her voice and stalked away.

When did it become socially acceptable to reject wishes for you to have a happy time?  And not just reject them, but throw them back with a dash of vitriol?

I have no desire to “take Christ out of Christmas” for Christians.  I have no desire to co-opt a holiday for my own purposes.  I HAVE my own holiday, which, ultimately, is the point.

See, as a Pagan, my winter holiday is the winter solstice, or Yule.  It comes a few days before Christmas.  And my Jewish friends?  They have their own holiday too.  You  may have heard of it?  Hanukkah.  The Muslim folks have one too.  And, not all of the holidays in December are holy days.

There’s the secular holiday that has grown up here in the states, with the trees and the gift giving and the family dinner…it just happens to fall on the same day as Christmas.  Really, it’s become an amalgamation of a bunch of religious and cultural observances from around the world.

I could go into all the reasons that Christmas isn’t actually celebrated on the actual birth of Christ, provided you believe he was an actual man who was actually born, but I happen to be one of those who believes that that shouldn’t matter.  It’s a religious observance of an event, a celebration of something that happened, it doesn’t need to take place on the anniversary of that particular day.

I could also reiterate all the ways that Christmas is a Pagan holiday far more than a Christian one, but again, I don’t care that Pagan traditions were adopted and adapted by a faith that came along after…it’s how we change and grow as a people…it’s how religions evolve.

None of that is my point.

And yes, I do have one.

That point is this:  If you get upset at the way someone greets you and wishes you well this holiday season, you might be missing the point.

I might add, if you have to point out your religion to someone by making a huge point over said greeting, perhaps you might look to how you’re expressing your religion on a daily basis.

In all that, maybe my point is really about where your focus is this holiday season.  Consider that as you sit down to your Thanksgiving day feast tomorrow with your family.  Think about it as you begin the madness that is December.  Ponder it as you go about your daily chores.

Shift your focus outward a little.  You might be surprised how much happier you become.


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