Happy Chrismahanukwanzaaka! Why “happy holidays” isn’t a big deal

Ok, I’ve sat on this post for several years, now, but since it’s the beginning of November and the battle is already raging, I have to ask a question:

What the heck is wrong with saying “Happy Holidays”? 

The memes, the boycotting of stores who say the H word, the sermons, yes, I have heard them, all the “holiday” bashing makes me shake my head in complete and utter confusion. Ya’ll, nobody has “dibs” on December! By the way, Jesus wasn’t even born in December, but that’s neither here nor there. 

It’s called the “Holiday Season” because there are multiple holidays between October and January, and why in the world can’t I hope you enjoy all of them? There are four holidays that we as a family observe, and at least four more that we don’t. So what if they are attached to a specific religion or culture? That still doesn’t give you exclusive rights to any particular month/season. And if you’re still not convinced, let me tell you a little about the word “Holiday.” When you break it down, it’s easy to see the roots. The word literally means “holy day”. It means a break from the everyday, to celebrate something special or sacred. It was originally used for feast days throughout the year in addition to the three months we use (or condemn) it for now. 

Besides, no matter what you call it, isn’t the season all about love and, let’s face it, self-sacrifice? God sent His only Son to die for a world who ignores Him. Do you think, maybe, for a couple months, you could forget that you don’t agree with people who light menorahs? (Do you know why they light menorahs? They are remembering a miracle.) That you could show kindness instead of indignation to those who celebrate Kwanzaa? That you could, gasp, smile at Santa instead of raving at him about the consumerism of Christmas? Maybe you should try celebrating Three Kings’ Day, if you’re so upset about commercializing Jesus’ birthday. 

Now, I’m not saying “don’t say Merry Christmas.” What I’m saying is that, when the cashier who is working 65 hours a week until January 10th smiles at you and says “Happy Holidays!”, don’t scowl and stomp out the door, vowing never to return. Don’t correct them. Don’t complain, in person or on social media. 

Just smile. Reply whatever you feel like replying, but remember, it’s not a competition. Nobody gets a prize for naming their favorite holiday the most times or the most forcefully. 

Because, Charlie Brown, that’s not what Christmas is about. 

Simplified Chaos

As I wander through the maze of duplos and army men and dolls with no clothes and dreadlocks, I wonder to myself.
How in the world did we end up with all this stuff? And why am I the only one who doesn’t think the floor is the appropriate place for it?
Yesterday I made a decision about Christmas this year. I’ve been dissatisfied with the traditional American Christmas for several years, and we as a family have tried several different things to change how we celebrate to really reflect the meaning of the season, but somehow it always ends in a suburban stuffed to the hubcaps with noisy, annoying, and generally pointless toys. (Sorry, Mom, it’s the cold hard truth)
Last year we asked for donations instead of gifts, we even suggested a few charities that we enjoyed. And it worked great for the adults. But guess what? We still came home with a huge load of toys to somehow stuff into already-full toyboxes. I should clarify by saying that my husband and I are each the first in our generation of our respective families to have children. He has two siblings and two grandparents, and I have four siblings and three grandparents. Not to mention our parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, all of whom want to give the most and best gifts to our kids. Our kids have so many people who love them, and that warms my heart in ways that no one who hasn’t had children could understand. But I love my kids, too, and I don’t want them to grow up feeling entitled to the biggest and best toys, I don’t want them to feel like they are the center of the world, and I want them to know that Christmas isn’t about getting gifts, it’s about God giving the ultimate gift. 
So yesterday, I called all the grandparents and great-grandparents and told them that we would like them to limit Christmas gifts to two gifts per child, and suggested that they focus on something to be experienced or to build memories with that family member. (ie. A book with Grandma’s voice recorded reading the story, a trip to a local zoo or museum, or even a visit from long-distance family members) I also begged them not to feel like they had to “fill” a box or bag with cheap toys and crayons and other little things. And to insure that no one had hurt feelings, I explained my reasoning: to make my children more selfless, well-rounded human beings. 
I expected complaints, kick-back, maybe some declarations of intent to ignore my pleas,  but instead I recieved support, agreement, questions and clarifications, and all around… could it be… relief? Can our society have seriously come to the point where we buy mountains of kitsch every year for people we love out of a sense of duty? Ick. 
I’m inspired by stories of people who live in 600 square feet with 4 kids, who have and give their kids only the necessities, and the excess goes to kids who don’t have as much. By people who own stuff, and aren’t owned by it. I spend so much time every day taking care of stuff, it feels like I don’t have time for the really important things, like reading to my kids or playing ball with our puppy. I wish I had an answer for it, too, but I don’t. All I can do is take it one step at a time. 
How have you simplified your life?

 

 

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