the christmas debate


Tomorrow. Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. Tomorrow’s tomorrow is Christmas. Today is Christmas Eve’s Eve.


But, wait. Am I even allowed to say “Christmas”? Would it be more politically correct, more considerate to say, “Holiday’s Eve”? After all, how do I know if you (my reader) celebrate Christmas? What if you don’t? Am I being rude?

As a kid, I don’t remember there being much fuss around Christmas. I mean, sure, there were presents and Santas and snowmen and trees. But controversy? Arguments? Boycotts?

Of course, here in the United States, the “Christmas Debate” has been exacerbated recently by ISIS attacks, religious shootings, presidential debates, and a lot more. Fair enough, but I can honestly say that, while living in Taiwan, I never heard of a “Merry Christmas!” offending anyone. Kids go to school on Christmas Day in Taiwan, and yet if you told them or their parents, “Merry Christmas,” they’d smile, and they’d say, “Thank you!”

The same is true there for Ramadan and Diwali and Hanukkah and Passover and Chinese New Year and a host of other religious and cultural holidays. There, they’re seen for what they are: celebrations, remembrances, family, humanity. Holidays are a celebration of life around the planet. Is that so hard to understand?

And so the next time I hear a news story about the Christmas Debate, I think I might scream. Or cry. Or, at the very least, sigh. A genuine “Merry Christmas!” isn’t religious imperialism, folks. It’s love.

26 thoughts

    • Merry Christmas to you, too, Ina! Also, I just looked at the description on your gravatar profile. I love what you do — your work sounds rewarding and interesting! I have a friend who works with orphans in Romania. I would love to go help someday. :)

  1. I’m an atheist, and I really don’t care at all. Never understood what the fuss was about there in the US. I love Christmas, and wish you a very, very Merry Christmas! :)

  2. Have a Merry Jolly Christmas filled with lots of love, laughter, health, and peace!!! And I totally agree with everything you’ve said. Folks these days are overly sensitive and assume the worst rather than appreciating the generous sentiment that a “Merry Christmas” is supposed to represent.

    • The whole thing is just ridiculous, especially when you consider how little of “Christ” is left in Christmas, anyway. If you ask anyone in mainstream society what they envision when they think of Christmas, I guarantee you that it isn’t the manger scene — it’s Santa and presents and Christmas trees and snowmen. So what’s the big deal if Santa comes to your kid’s school when you don’t celebrate Christmas? Who cares?!

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Bupe. I hope you have a great Christmas and a fabulous New Year with your little ones! :)

  3. One of the friends I’ve made through blogging wished me a happy Diwali and it made me feel good. He was sharing something special with me. Merry Christmas – it’s what I celebrate and if you don’t, then I wish that you are still somehow surrounded by the spirit of Christmas. Merry Christmas Jess!!

    • Exactly, Dan! I learned about Diwali from one of my blogging friends, too. And it made me happy and interested — what a cool part of a different culture! Merry Christmas to you and your family!! Hope you have a fabulous holiday.

  4. Merry Christmas, or Happy Hanakkuh/Passover, or Ramadan, or Diwali, or Holidays, et al Jessica! There are probably a thousand ways on this extremely diverse planet to wish someone well, peace, joy, and goodwill. It should be done 365 days a year, not just one day or week, but multiple times in a day even…in my gracious humble opinion. It is nothing more that a courteous greeting/wish loosely based upon the “culture” you are presently in. :)

    With today’s hyper-sensitivities about religious celebrations/festivities, one possible source of the increased tension might be because during various Eras in the U.S. it was more risky to freely divulge your own personal beliefs that didn’t fall inline with the popular common traditions, like Protestant or Catholic, the majority (publicly proclaimed?) faiths. In some regions of America, that might even be taking your physical health into danger; i.e. racism, intolerant ideologies, lynch-mobs(?), were a lot more prevalent then.

    Nevertheless, perhaps the “sensitivity” is relative to one’s perspective, size of their heart (brain? LOL), and how they feel toward all of humanity.

    Have a safe, peaceful, joyous Holidays Jess! <3

    • You bring up a good point when you talk about eras, Professor. I know that that’s true for a lot of different things in culture and society over time. I remember thinking racism was a thing of the past when I was a kid — after all, MLK, Jr. had paved the way and we had improved! How wrong I was… How sad I was to realize… I can’t help but think that some of our difficulties are inherent to the fact we’re a melting pot. In order for a melting pot to succeed, those in the melting pot need to be flexible and respectful and giving and tolerant. Many Americans are anything but these things.

      Anyway, Merry Christmas to you, too! I hope you have a great day with family and friends. I know you work hard. You deserve the best. :)

  5. The other commenters have pretty much already said what I was going to say, but I’m going to say it again any way. ;)

    The Christmas “debate” in this country is a perfect example of one of the fundamental problems in this country. The reality is that the vast, vast majority of us are perfectly fine with being wished Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays regardless of our belief systems. I was raised Catholic, became an atheist, married a Jew. If somebody wants to wish me a Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Hanukah, or Happy Holidays, I’ll take it. Because as you said, it’s an expression of love, joy, and happiness. No matter the words used. But instead of focusing on that, our media and social media focus far too much on the small minority who want to go to war on this. The ones who are offended by Merry Christmas and their opponents who are offended by Happy Holidays. This willingness, no, this need, to be offended is driving our country further and further apart and it’s, yes, making me want to scream as well.

    Merry Christmas to you, Jessica! I hope you get out for a run in the rain this weekend. ;)

    • Thank you, King! I’m glad others understand my frustration and agree. I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, but I honestly don’t believe the United States will not be a “super power” forever. Rome fell, and we will, too. We are chipping away at our very foundations with arguments like this as we speak.

      Anyway… I’m hoping for a rainy run or maybe even a ride. I’ll actually be your way this Christmas — visiting family in El Dorado Hills. I hope you get a run in, too, and have a great one with yours… Merry Christmas!!

  6. Dear Jessica, your writing is so loving and accepting.
    They continue to be a breath of fresh air, reminding us of our higher selves.
    Thank you!
    Much of the fuel behind and so-called debate is the struggle that newspapers and social media believe they are in. Out of desperation for more clicks and eyeballs, they’re dwelling on polarizing issues and imagined differences. What was formerly only on supermarket line tabloids has started to grow like a cancer in the media.
    You are showing us sanity and loving kindness in the face of these fire-feeders.
    I’m grateful you can rise above that.
    You’re inspiring me to NOT click on those made-up headlines and instead connect with that which unifies us.
    I’m confident you’ll have a Merry Christmas surrounded by light and love, and will continue happily well into the future.

    • Thank you, Vincent. I’m glad you appreciate my thoughts. You bring up a good point, as others have, when you mention the media. I wonder how many of these and similar stories we’d hear if we didn’t have the Internet…? The Internet wasn’t really around when I was a kid. It does seem like news sites latch onto things just to create a stir and improve their ratings.

      Anyway, Merry Christmas to you! I hope you have a great holiday weekend. :)

  7. Couldn’t have said it better! We had a couple of technicians in our house this week and as they left, we wished them a Merry Christmas. They told us their employer had instructed them to only say Happy Holidays so they wouldn’t offend anyone. What is America coming to?

  8. Hi Jessica, it’s been a while since I’ve had the time to visit your blog. I hope you are doing well? I simply cannot believe how offended people can get when wished a Merry Christmas but I truly believe that this is a product of the media and the attention this matter gets every year. As you mention, when I was young, I don’t recall this every being an issue. The Christmas holiday is not part of my religion yet I would never think of being offended, it is after all simply a wish of well being. Merry Christmas to you and all the best in 2016.

    • Thank you, Mark, and so good to hear from you! It’s been a while since I’ve visited my blog, too, as a matter of fact (lol). Kidding. Sort of. I’m so glad to hear I’m not the only one who thinks the problem ridiculous. I hope you had a great Christmas and have a great New Years, too!

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