Tuesday, December 27th, 2011
Merry Christmas! Or is it?
Happy Chanukah? Merry Christmas? Happy Kwanzaa? Happy Holidays! What are we supposed to say in this time of year? The easy one is coming up…Happy New Year! As for the rest, we can debate that ad nauseum. I’ve decided to venture away from strictly communication tips this time, and work a little cross cultural communication into the blog.
Normally, my controversial topics are usually in the political realm. This time we’re in the even more sensitive territory of religion. So, if you would indulge me by putting your faith on the corner post and look at the messaging and communication components of the discussion, this will go much better.
Now…The big question typically debated at this time of year is: what’s the big deal about saying Merry Christmas as the standard holiday greeting when you walk into stores, answer phones, or greet new and familiar guests? I will argue, nothing…if…you don’t mind being greeted by a Happy Chanukah, or Happy Kwanzaa by someone who does not celebrate Christmas, whenever you are in their space.
It’s not news to realize that the majority of Americans are Christians. But majority doesn’t mean only. So as long as we all keep a tolerant outlook and accept that other faiths not only exist, but also are held as closely and dearly to those who practice them, as Christians who devote their Sundays to church. Merry Christmas is a statement of joy, an attempt to spread a certain degree of cheer, and often one’s way of expressing their own appreciation of fellow man. Honoring any other religious observance holiday with a similar statement would be the same concept. But how would most of America if every time they walked into their favorite grocery store, movie theatre, or convenience store, they were greeted with “Happy Chanukah,” or “Happy Kwanzaa?” If your initial response is anything but, “I’d be happy someone extended a seasonal greeting to me” you might want to check your tolerance and inclusion meter!
If we remember that Christ was a Jew, and that there are half dozen other religions practiced here in the US, and more than 15% of Americans who don’t even believe in organized religions, we can all find a little compassion for however we each choose to express good tidings to others in this time of year. And when greeted with an expression that is not of your faith or choosing, simply smile return a polite greeting of your own knowing that you’ve both wished each other well.
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