Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas to All, or the War on the War on Christmas

Merry Christmas, everyone. I'm at work, but it's been a peaceful day... I clocked in at nine, and the co-worker I relieved was heading to the in-laws for Christmas breakfast after working the overnight. I will be relieved at 5PM by another co-worker, he joked that this would give him an excuse to bow out a half-hour after his in-laws arrive, before they can stress him out. We're essential personnel, but we all love being onsite.

It's been a quiet day, I made sure that I fed Ginger and toured the facility, picking up slack. In a quiet moment, being a resident of the Lower Hudson Valley, I cued up local legend (as in Legend) Washington Irving's Old Christmas, from The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent.:

Being a New York partisan, I have to note that Irving's Old Christmas was one of the inspirations of Dickens' A Christmas Carol, and Dickens' Mr Fezziwig shares the same 'DNA' as Irving's Squire Bracebridge.

While reading Old Christmas, I was struck by this passage:

Surely happiness is reflective, like the light of heaven; and every countenance, bright with smiles, and glowing with innocent enjoyment, is a mirror transmitting to others the rays of a supreme and ever shining benevolence. He who can turn churlishly away from contemplating the felicity of his fellow beings, and sit down darkling and repining in his loneliness when all around is joyful, may have his moments of strong excitement and selfish gratification, but he wants the genial and social sympathies which constitute the charm of a merry Christmas.

I immediately thought of this churl, with his lies about a 'War on Christmas':

People are proud to be saying Merry Christmas again. I am proud to have led the charge against the assault of our cherished and beautiful phrase. MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!

Even here, in the secular/multicultural Northeast, people say 'merry Christmas', like they have always done. Yesterday, before clocking in on the job, I went to a local halal Indian restaurant for their lunch buffet and the proprietor, a Bangladesh-born Muslim man, effusively wished myself, and all of the other customers, a merry Christmas. My Jewish co-worker wished me a merry Christmas when he came to take over at midnight. People say 'happy holidays' because there are multiple holidays this time of year, and many people celebrate two of them... it's a handy shorthand, and a safe bet to say to everyone. I like to celebrate everybody's holidays- Chanukkah, Diwali, Eid al-Fitr, they are nice supplements to Christmas, New Year's Eve, Walpurgisnacht. Here, in the high-functioning world, we don't take offense on people wishing us happy holidays, we recognize the whole 'War on Christmas' narrative as the divide-and-conquer bullshit that it is. Today, we wish everybody a merry Christmas... tomorrow we will wish everyone a happy Boxing Day or St Stephen's Day, and the day after we will wish everyone a joyous Kwanzaa. For the say of succinctness, happy holidays, everybody.

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