JOHN WALLACE: What's in a word at Christmastime?

OPINION: Don't forget the Golden Rule when extending holiday greetings

John Wallace

John Wallace

My memories of Christmas are filled with love and joy. The family gathering and gift giving. OK, so as a kid it was more about the gift receiving. Things I could not get for myself, but really, really, really wanted, being given to me by loved ones to whom I made my desires known beforehand with my Christmas list.

I remember the intolerably long time between Christmas Eve, when the presents were laid out, and Christmas morning, when we could open them. In our house, my grandmother, Nanny, would sleep on the couch and we were not permitted to come downstairs before six. We, the kids, would be on the stairs shushing each other at five and she would say, “I hear you up there.”

She would get up, make coffee and bring us bowls of cereal, on the stairs, but we still had to wait.

Then, my parents would get up and the festivities would begin. We had a system in my house. One present would be opened at a time and we would go by seniority. Just the kids. And when all our presents were open, then we would do Nanny. Then Mom and, last of all, Dad.

I don’t remember much about them opening presents, because by then we were so engrossed in our own presents. We didn’t really pay attention to what they got, except when it was from us. I know this is not the orthodox meaning of Christmas, the giving and receiving of presents, when, in fact, it was about the birth of Christ, but it is what I remember when I think about Christmas. I was raised a Christian and his birth was celebrated in my home on that day, but what I remember is the joy of the season.

After breakfast we would put on our Christmas clothes and off to church we went. Nanny stayed with us on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning and then our cousins would come over, we’d trade them Nanny for some presents, and they would take Nanny to their house. She would go to the other cousins for New Year’s Eve. We always thought we got the best of that deal.

Now I hear that Christmas is under attack. The War on Christmas! Who are these people and why are they attacking us? As far as I can tell, I am still allowed to celebrate Christmas as I always have. This has to be the most incompetently run war I have ever seen. Speaking of which, if you are looking for a phrase to inflame people, say Christmas and war in the same sentence. What is this War on Christmas?

When did they pass this law that you cannot say Merry Christmas? Just because the politically correct greeting for the season is Happy Holidays does not, in my humble opinion, constitute an attack on Christianity. I think it is recognition that Christians are not the only ones who celebrate their religion.

I wonder how we would feel if the government only recognized the Jewish holidays, or Muslims holy days? How would you feel if the politically correct greeting was Happy Chanukah or Namaste. Or Allah Akbar. You would probably be offended.

So, how about a little respect for our non-christian brothers and sisters? It’s their country, too. Happy Holidays is respectful and sounds like something Jesus could get behind. I just think the stores want as many customers as possible and Happy Holidays is as inoffensive a greeting as they could come up with.

I read that someone was offended when the term Happy Holidays is used. You are offended because others do not believe as you do? This is still America and you have the freedom to believe in religion as you choose. And that includes not having to celebrate someone else’s religion.

The government should represent all the people and not be seen to favor one religion over another. As the representative of all the people, they say “Happy Holidays.” When they are with their friends and family I am sure they say the traditional greeting.

To my fellow Americans, I say, Happy Holidays, Happy Chanukah, Namaste, Allah Akbar and Happy Kwanzaa. Jesus loves you all.

To all my Christian brothers and sisters, I say, Merry Christmas, deck the halls with boughs of holly and fill the day with love and create your own happy memories.

Let us not forget the real meaning of Christmas. The celebration of the life of Christ.

Merry Christmas!

John Wallace lives in Leesburg and works in the post office.