There’s a meme that goes around Facebook, usually around the holiday season. I’ve commented on this on Facebook before, but I thought it was worthwhile to put this into a ‘blog article.
The meme appears in many different ways, but the gist of it goes something like this: “If you’re Christian, feel free to wish me Merry Christmas. If you’re Jewish, feel free to wish me Happy Chanukah. If you’re African-American, feel free to wish me Joyous Kwanzaa. If you’re something else, feel free to wish me holiday greetings in whatever your beliefs or culture allow, or simply wish me Happy Holidays. I won’t be offended. I’ll be happy that you took the time to say something nice to me.”
I agree with the sentiment 100%, but I also want to take it a step further.
We are a multicultural world, with many points of view, religions, beliefs, and mores. What might be strange to one culture might be everyday life in another. Many of us enjoy traveling to exotic countries and cultures, mostly to experience other worlds that aren’t our own. As foreign travelers, we want to know what it’s like to be part of that culture. Visitors to Hawai’i, for example, want to receive leis, eat poi and poke, wear Hawaiian shirts, and learn to play the ukulele. (By the way, one thing I learned from my Hawai’i trip several years ago is that the correct pronunciation is OO-ku-lay-lay, not YOU-ku-lay-lay.) I think this is a good and healthy thing; it allows us to understand, experience, and appreciate what it’s like to be part of something that is not our own. This, in turn, enhances our knowledge and understanding of each other. And when we’re accepted into the culture, it makes us feel pretty good.
I regularly say, “feel free to wish me a Happy (whatever your preferred holiday is). Not only will I not be offended, I will actually be flattered that you think enough of me to wish me well from the standpoint of your culture, religion, more, or belief.”
I’ve had deeply religious people tell me they’d “pray for me” (and I do NOT mean in a spiteful or sarcastic way) or ask me if “I would pray with them.” Granted, I am not a religious person; although I do attend church, I consider myself more spiritual than religious. But when I get asked this, I have absolutely no problem with it (in fact, I’ll join them more often than not). Even though my beliefs are not necessarily the same as theirs, being invited to join them makes me feel pretty good. And taking part acknowledges that I respect their belief.
So if you happen to see me around the holidays, feel free to wish me a Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Joyous Kwanzaa, Happy Diwali, Ramadan Kareem, Peace to You, Live Long and Prosper, Happy Holidays, or whatever you prefer. I will thank you for it! After all, sending happy greetings and best wishes to another person is what it’s all about, regardless of what you believe.