Tuesday, December 14, 2010

What to Get for the Man Who's always Offended?

This started out as a letter to the editor of my local rag, in response to a spectacularly idiotic letter published in the edition of 12/12/10. The letter went like this:

    “Happy holidays” is offensive 
    It’s “Merry Christmas” - not “Happy holidays” - and yes, it’s a religious holiday. 
    Some undoubtedly will argue that there are people who don’t celebrate Christmas, which is absolutely fine. Yet they take the holiday pay and the time off from work. 
    If you are that opposed to Christmas, then volunteer to work in place of those who do celebrate it and turn down the holiday pay universally associated with Christmas. 
    In a world of withering political correctness, “Happy holidays” is an offensive phrase to those of us who celebrate Christmas. 
    So “Merry Christmas” to all of you.

Usually such inanity merely makes me chuckle and/or shake my head in wonderment, not so much at people’s boundless bone-headedness but also at their willingness, nay, eagerness to put said bone-headedness on public display.

But this time around, rather than just move on to the next page, I found myself musing on the reason (if “reason” is the right word) someone would take offense at being greeted with “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” And so it was that I drafted a quick letter to the editor...which turned out to be about twice as long as the paper claims to want them to be (although I note that they violate their guidelines pretty frequently), and which I decided not to cleave to the bone to satisfy somebody’s arbitrary word count. So here’s my take, in all its verbose glory:

    I had a nice little chuckle from the letter titled “‘Happy holidays’ is offensive” in Sunday’s Argus Leader. It’s always amusing at this time of year when people decide to be “offended” if they are not greeted the “right” way, or if they see “Xmas” instead of “Christmas” (ignorant, perhaps purposely, of the fact that since the earliest days of the church X—the Greek letter chi, from the Greek word for Christ—has been used to represent Jesus, and thus as an abbreviation is no more disrespectful than, say, WWJD), or when they see themselves as soldiers in the nonexistent “war on Christmas.” Oh, what fun it is to see people tie themselves into knots of indignation for no reason at all.
    But I find myself wondering why someone would be offended by receiving the “wrong” greeting. Seems to me that it’s nice to be greeted at all, and nice that the person doing the greeting seems to understand that there are many holidays at this time of year, not just Christmas, and that the real offense would be to presume that the person being greeted celebrates a particular one of them.
    So why take offense at what is obviously such an innocent greeting?
    The answer, I think, is simple: Selfishness. Sheer childish self-centeredness. If you don’t greet ME the “right” way, the way I want to be greeted, then I take offense! I am indignant! I instantly recognize you as someone who is “opposed to Christmas” (as the recent letter has it)—that is, you are my enemy, and you must be crushed!
    As a fan of irony, I enjoy how this “I am offended” mentality is so completely at odds with the message of Christmas—peace, goodwill, that sort of thing—and indeed so contrary to the teachings of him who the “offended” profess to follow—you know, the fellow who proposed people turn the other cheek, love their neighbor, forgive their brother “until seventy times seven,” etc. Nowhere in the Bible does Jesus admonish his followers to take up arms if our neighbor wishes us “Happy Holidays” or a local ad touts its “Xmas” sale.
    My advice to the “offended": Get over yourselves. We are told that this season all about Jesus (I refuse to repeat the gratingly idiotic rhyme that we see see all over the place at this time of year)—which is another way of saying that it’s not all about you! The coming of the Savior does not depend on other people greeting you with the exact phrase you wish to hear when you wish to hear it.
    Relax, for goodness’ sake. Enjoy the holidays a little!