We wish you a merry whatever | AspenTimes.com

We wish you a merry whatever

Roger Marolt

The time is now to stop all of this “happy holidays” malarkey whenever and wherever we see each other this time of year. I find it increasingly insulting each time I hear it. This grating greeting has become more generic than “have a nice day,” more politically correct than “I see your point,” and more sterile than “the skiing is great.” I suppose it’s OK to use these words if you truly intend to include all of the holidays that occur during these cold months. But if, as I suspect, what you really mean is to wish me happiness on the day of celebration that I find least offensive then … well, that’s offensive! Just what holiday is it that you want me to be happy about, anyway? People begin using this bloated-with-righteousness well wish right before Halloween, and don’t drop it until after the Super Bowl. In between we whoop it up for Diawali, Ramadan, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year’s, and Festivus for the rest of us. The other evening I enjoyed my kindergarten daughter’s “seasonal pageant” which concluded with a rousing rendition of that old favorite tune, “We Wish You a Merry Holiday.” Its theme seemed to be that religion is taboo, sort of making kids feel like freaks if their families prescribe to any certain beliefs. No particular religion is right. In fact, they are all wrong. Give me a break. A specific holiday greeting is an educational opportunity. It’s a fabulous way to get to know one another. It tells me a little more about you. Let me know what you’re revved up about. “Happy holidays” doesn’t cut it. It’s evasive. It’s a lazy way to avoid learning anything about me, too. Look, if you’re Hindu and I wish you a merry Christmas, don’t be offended. It’s a nice thing. I’m not asking you to go through the frustration of figuring out what I need this year with the hopes that you will get me something I don’t need that I can later drop off at the Thrift Shop for a handy little tax deduction. That’s for my in-laws. I’m just trying to let you know a little bit about what I believe in. This doesn’t mean we can’t be friends. In fact, my hope is that we can become better friends!Like you, I hope to find peace during Ramadan. If you happen to celebrate Kwanzaa, it’ll make me feel good if you hope that I have a nice one, too. I believe that the message of Advent is wonderful. If you wish me a happy Hanukkah, replying with a sincere “thank you” does not mean that I have abandoned the tenets of my chosen faith. Even though I don’t understand a lot about Judaism, I can find joy in your differing path leading you on the pursuit of peace and love through spirituality. And another thing, I’m not going to worry if I offend you with a specific greeting, either. If you give me even the slightest benefit of your doubt, you will know that my meaning is genuine. Since it is better to give than it is to receive, maybe we should stop pandering to the oversensitivity of a few closed-minded receivers of the greetings and credit the good intentions of the greeters instead. Giving in to this political correctness is giving in to the prejudiced, the close-minded cretins who believe that they are right and everyone else is wrong in the way they attempt to find truth in this world.The first time I became aware of this politically correct, celebration-dampening speech pattern was way back when all I truly wanted to be in this world was a businessman. I had barely settled into my cubicle before I understood that it was prudent to be sensitive to every conceivable potential offense in order to succeed in the paradoxical world of making a living. There are special phrases for this type of conform-at-all-cost behavior – brown-nosing or kissing … well, you get the idea.Anyway, when the Man finally exacted enough of my hide for me to come even with my dues, I opted for self-employment. It was then that I had an epiphany of sorts (sorry for the religious connotation) and decided not to bury underneath success something that basically guides my life. If somebody doesn’t want to do business with me because of my religious beliefs, to hell with them. Sure, an intolerant’s money spends as well as the next person’s, but it doesn’t cover the cost of relinquishing your soul.Besides, what is the worst thing that can happen if you reveal your religious preference through your celebratory inclination? “Hello, happy Diwali to you!””Shove it, scumbag. I happen to be a devout Christian.””Well in that case, may your god infest your infidel trousers with the flies from a thousand camel patties!”Full on fisticuffs ensue, a mini-holy war of sorts, and after you make bail, life slowly gets back to normal, until a trial date is set. The history of the “happy holidays” greeting is really quite sobering. It was first used in an ancient, Eastern Bloc country where religious freedom was systemically suppressed by an oppressive monarchy. Eggnog (known at the time as sweet goopy milk) sales plummeted shortly after the fascist leader took control, and the pagan celebration of Festivus was banned under the threat of severe punishment.The nutmeg farmers, who were most severely impacted financially, came up with the “happy holidays” greeting as an inconspicuous (i.e. legal) code for people to use to get directions to various office parties that were forced to go underground for fear of reprisal.All right, I may have taken some artistic license in recounting the facts of this historical account, but you get the point: Bowing to dictators or overly sensitive people has the same effect in snubbing out religious freedom.And this leaves me with just one last thing to say: Merry Christmas!Roger Marolt is glad to have the right to freely express his religious beliefs. Wish him a happy whatever at roger@maroltllp.com