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Social Studies

Happy Holidays, Dammit

By Vincent Williams | Posted 12/14/2005

I know City Paper did its whole holiday issue thing (Nov. 17), but I have to get this out. So, I’m at the local Bestpetwaltarget box store taking advantage of a preholiday sale and, as I leave with my stuff, I pass the brother at the door, give him the Black Man Nod, and say, “You have a good holiday.” He gets all puffed up, straight stares me down, and goes, “You have a Merry Christmas.” So, you know, ’cause I ain’t no punk, I look back at his low-budget Avery Brooks ass and repeat, “Have a happy holiday.” Now, I celebrate the holiday, but I refuse to be intimidated into having a Merry Christmas. I’m thinking that defeats the whole point of the exchange, but hey, there you go.

This little incident can, of course, be attributed to the recent furor over folks not saying “Merry Christmas” to each other in stores. The thinking goes that if people start greeting each other with “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas,” somehow this takes away from the power and purpose of the season. It’s sort of the same argument about “Xmas,” which literally takes the “Christ” out of “Christmas.”

In the midst of a shaky economy, war, famine, and pestilence, Fox News commentators have come out against what is undoubtedly the worst problem of our time. Our dear president has gotten flack for sending out holiday cards to his supporters that don’t use the “C” word. An organization called the Catholic League even went so far as to protest against Target, Wal-Mart, and other stores that are pushing “Happy Holidays” instead of the Christian “Merry Christmas.” So, of course, I have all kinds of hesitation about this whole line of thought.

First of all, any time you get a group of people together ranting about religion and bandying around words like “tradition” and “America,” I get a little antsy. Even when, as my experience shows, it’s a multiethnic movement, I just don’t trust folks who speak “religiously.” It’s always in terms of exclusion, rules, and, generally, just being a dick. And sometimes that kind of talk leads to camps and lynchings and all kinds of other nasty stuff. Seriously.

And do you really think Jesus cares about whether someone says “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays”? Seriously, this is the cat who hung out with prostitutes and lepers and fishermen. And you know what they say about fishermen. Or is this just some type of semantic pissing exercise because, well, some of these brown, yellow, and even browner folks are a little scary.

Honestly, I blame A Charlie Brown Christmas for my feelings on this one. Twelve years of Catholic school and three decades of churchgoing, and my entire definition of Christmas really comes from Linus schooling Charlie Brown at the end of the old holiday TV special. Linus goes hard and reads from the King James Version of the Bible, but, y’know, he doesn’t run in on Lucy and Snoopy and the rest of them to rain on their parade. “Hey, Charlie Brown, they’re all caught up in the glitz and glitter, but lemme read ya some text from the Bible.” It just struck me as a laid-back, nonconfrontational way to get across your message.

Plus, speaking of Charlie Brown, just how do you decide what’s Christmasy and what isn’t? Christmas tree, mistletoe, stockings, Santa Claus—all pagan stuff. Do we get rid of all of that, too? Hell, for that matter, if you’re that hard-core about the whole Christmas thing, why are you out shopping for gifts, anyway? Surely, you don’t want to be involved in the crass commercialism. And then, and then, if you really want to talk about it, um, it’s not like Jesus was actually born on Dec. 25, right? See? You can go as far as you want to and nitpick this thing to death. But really, what’s the point of all that?

All I’m saying is that the holidays shouldn’t be antagonistic. No matter what you’re celebrating this season and how you want to celebrate it, the bottom line is that we all should take this time to enjoy ourselves and just chill the hell out with the finger-pointing. And that’s the real meaning of Christmas, Charlie Brown. Oh yeah, y’all have a Happy Kwanzaa, too.

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