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Jen Roberts
10:28 AM on 12/13/2009
Phillip, I'm appalled. Why would anyone care how you were choosing to celebrate Valentine's Day? You were expressing love and happiness, and I will never understand how outsiders feel the need to moderate or comment on how other people bring positive vibes into the world.

I'm a Jew who has lived in mostly Christian communities and used to get upset during this time of year. Now I understand whatever anyone says -- Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Hello -- they're choosing to express their positive feelings as themselves. So I say Happy Chanukah back, or Right Back at You, because that's who I am and how I choose to express myself.

Just like the holiday card issue. My mom called a few days ago, upset that someone had sent her a religious holiday card. I asked if she thought the person was being malicious or deliberate in her choice of card, and she said no. I then said that I didn't change the card I sent depending on to whom I was sending it -- my choice of holiday card is my way of expressing warmth and love during this dark and cold time of year. I don't care anymore what type of holiday card or comment people send -- if they mean it in a positive way. I just send my Happy Chanukah cards and warm wishes, and add to the light of coldest of times of the year.
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thinkingwomanmillstone
...I am Siamese if you don't please.
10:17 AM on 12/13/2009
As an atheist, I am constantly bombarded with God from the government, from friends and strangers alike. However, I am not offended by anyone wishing me Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa etc. I don't expect people to stop in their tracks and figure out the appropriate expression to say to me. I just take them for their intent which is to wish something good for me. I use a generic "Have a nice Holiday" if I don't know the person's personal beliefs. (which of course means I'm part of the war on Christmas). If I do know the appropriate holiday, I use the appropriate greeting. It doesn't mean I subscribe to their particular religion or any other religion. I would be in a constant state of irritation if I let these things bother me.
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Social Construct
Go left, young man.
04:26 AM on 12/13/2009
Excellent. I wholeheartedly agree with the author. Especially the part about how some excluded groups must endure living with being on the outside looking in year round, simply by bearing the label of "minority."
11:18 PM on 12/12/2009
One of the greatest problems we face, on an individual level is that of acceptance.

One of my favorite prayers is asking God to help us understand the difference between things that can change and thngs that will never change and having the wisdom to know the difference.

And a few folks here have said much the same thing.

It's like hitting a brick wall...sooner or later you figure out that you can't go through it but you may be able to find a way around it.

And going around it means finding a personal way to accept it.
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OtayPanky
You're welcome
07:42 PM on 12/12/2009
In every human society there are going to be those that are in the minority, and those that are in the majority. That's true even at the family level, and it is really unavoidable.

For example, let's say everyone in your family (and I'll imagine you have a husband and four kids) is Jewish, and a scholarly type who marries "in the faith" - except for the black sheep who has ADD, excels at sports, and marries a gentile - and then becomes one. (Oy vay!)

That kid is going to have a VERY different experience of family life than the rest - not for one month out of the year, but all year long.

So a sense of exclusion at times simply can't be helped, and isn't worth getting our knickers all in a twist over.

The REAL question is how the majority behaves towards the minority. Are they TOXIC, or BENIGN, in their thoughts, words and behaviors?

I'd say that, in the main, most Christians in America are tolerant of those who say Happy Hanukah rather than Merry Christmas. They've long since given up the Inquisition and other unpleasantries when it comes to those of other faiths. So, since they've lightened up, you can lighten up to.

Unfortunately the same can't be said for our GLTS/TV friends. The beatings continue - both in the street, and in the actions of the government.

It's important to think clearly, and save our sense of outrage for those situations where it
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04:27 PM on 12/13/2009
Yes, we must pick our battles carefully.
07:31 PM on 12/12/2009
What an awful whiner. I'm jewish, and I honestly cannot understand how anybody could be offended when somebody who does not know them and has no idea they are jewish wishes them a merry christmas. The vast majority of this country is christian, and even many secular people celebrate christmas; is it any wonder that the average person is assumed to celebrate it? Anybody who is "offended" or "uncomfortable" really need to find something new to complain about. With the awful state of our economy, a broken political system, rampant homelessness, and thousands of our fighting men and women in constant danger fighting unnecessary wars, anybody who complains about something as frivolous as this really needs to find something for constructive to do.
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04:25 PM on 12/13/2009
THANK YOU!!!
05:27 PM on 12/12/2009
It's ironic that while you were writing this, you likely had a counterpart somewhere on the interwebs writing a column complaining that all the red bows and candy canes and Santas were taking the Christianity out of Christmas. While I do not begrudge you your wish not to feel excluded, I think that at this point Christmas is mainly a secular (read: consumer) holiday, and not particularly affiliated with any religion, despite its origins in Christianity.
06:37 PM on 12/12/2009
Because of its status as a popular holiday, Christmas is neither/nor--neither secular nor religious in a collective sense. On an individual level, it can be either, both, or none of the above. It's a religious observance for me, but for someone else... who knows?

Designating it a secular holiday (which is kind of impossible, since "holiday" means holy day) amounts to telling people how to celebrate the event, and that's out of keeping with our democracy.

We're a melting-pot culture with genuine problems understanding and accepting any diversity of traditions. Our collective instinct is to level cultural observances by labeling them "secular" or "inclusive." But, minus diversity, there's not much to be inclusive of.
08:13 PM on 12/12/2009
I wasn't designating Christmas a secular holiday (and, come on, are you saying the 4th of July can't be a holiday because it's not religious? Words evolve.), I was merely noting that Christmas as celebrated in public and in popular culture, which is what Ms. Ferber was talking about, has become almost wholly secular. Not my doing, I'm just callin' it as I see it.

Of course there are lots of people who celebrate it as a religious holiday and many who do both. But in the mall, on the radio, in the checkout line, it's not religious.
05:15 PM on 12/12/2009
I am not a christian. I could choose to feel excluded and marginalized because a lot of people are celebrating a holiday important to their religion, or I can choose my own interpretation of a winter holiday with rituals and traditions that I select and enjoy the lights and colors and giving and general goodwill. It's of no relevance to me what the holiday means to anyone else, and mine is of no matter to them. If I choose to forgo christmas completely (and I've done that in previous years), I certainly don't resent others continuing to celebrate nor do I take offense that they assume that I share in their celebration.

Your christmas or lack thereof is not about me. Mine is not about you.
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Andrea Torres
04:16 PM on 12/12/2009
try coming down to the south during this time of year. each time I'm in a check out lane I have to figure out what words I'll use when they wish me a merry christmas.. oh, i'm jewish, or well it's happy chanukah for me, or oh, it's okay I'm the only one in north carolina.. anyway, thanks for your post, at least someone else out there feels how uncomfortable it makes you.
08:25 PM on 12/12/2009
Wishing someone well makes you feel uncomfortable???????????
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04:20 PM on 12/13/2009
Better than being confronted by a rude sourpuss, I'd imagine.
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PhilipB
03:06 PM on 12/12/2009
Experiencing the overwhelming sense of exclusion I feel at this time of year, I try to use this insight to understand what it feels like for LGBT people"
I appreciated you connecting the dots here.
Examples are high school dances where if you are gay and bring the date you want to, it is international news!
How about when I was told that a coworker was getting promoted over me because he was married, and at the time my partner and I had been together for 10 years and had a daughter! That was a good one.
There was the time we went to a Valentines dinner at a restaurant and you would have thought we were hornets at a picnic...not being served, our plates tossed on the table when we were finally noticed after many prompting, the rose and candle snatched away from our table by the owner, dirty looks and staring by the other straight couples...and there we were in our ties and jackets...you know that was so horrible I have not wanted to remember until now and my eyes are flooding.
So, I may say,
Peace and Chanukah to you and your family!
:)
PhilipB
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PhilipB
03:34 PM on 12/12/2009
I meant to include quote marks at the beginning
quote "experiencing....
Thanks for an insightful article Abby!
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03:46 PM on 12/12/2009
Thank you, PhilipB, for your thoughtful comment; I really related to it. From me and my partner to you and yours, Happy Chanukah!
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PhilipB
06:34 PM on 12/12/2009
You just made my day!
:)
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LeftRight
TANSTAAFL
02:50 PM on 12/12/2009
I won't apologize for celebrating Christmas, but I will apologize for OFFENDING you if my celebrations are too much.

I also won't get offended if anyone wishes me a happy holidays, or even happy that isn't Christmas.
01:54 PM on 12/12/2009
What!?

Please, wish me, a non-christian, a merry christmas all you want, I will simply respond with a "happy holidays."
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01:13 PM on 12/12/2009
Great. You've summed up just how I feel being "included", finacially and militarily, in supporting a regime in the Middle East I neither believe in or trust.
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04:13 PM on 12/13/2009
Great point.
12:58 PM on 12/12/2009
Great article - I couldn't have said it better. I have endured people assuming I was Christian for over 60 years - not to mention the many who have shown their notable disapproval/irritation with me for not being one of them and those who have outright told me that this is a Christian nation -- almost like it is unpatriotic not to be in this majority. I can tell you this is the most alienating time of the year for me. But your connecting this alienation to increased empathy for all "outsiders" is a very insightful as well as a very constructive approach.
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mzrecycle
a very subtle micro-bio
04:13 PM on 12/12/2009
It's a most curious phenomenon that certain Christians continue to insist that the founding fathers of this country were Christian, when there is ample proof that most were Deists, a choice made to separate themselves from the Christian theology. All the proof in the world won't change those minds however.

Although raised Christian, I consider myself simply spiritual. My husband and I are celebrating Chanukah (in our own way) as we do for other Jewish holidays and religious holidays of other religions. It's my opinion that the Deity would only be pleased by the observance of any religious holiday, as long as it's done in the spirit of appreciation for that religion in our world.

Even though "Merry Christmas" is more likely to come to mind when greeting others, I'm going to make a point of switching to "Happy Holidays", unless I'm sure the greeting person is Christian.
04:53 PM on 12/12/2009
Well, "Happy Holiday(s)" was good enough for Irving Berlin when he wrote the 1942 song of the same title.

The issue of our founders' religious orientation is actually irrelevant to their vision of a faith-neutral democracy. Whether Christian or Deist, they had no intention of giving official status to their faithviews. They hated the state-church model and nixed it with the establishment and no-religious-test (i.e. requirement) clauses.

If we subscribe to a principle of religious freedom, then our own beliefs have no bearing on it. Even had Jefferson, et al. been Christians, our form of government would still be faith-neutral.
04:58 PM on 12/12/2009
I am 68 years old . I have grown up being the shepard in Christmas plays as I was one of three Jewish kids in my elementary school. I know all the Christmas songs from "Away in The Manger" to "Jingle Bells Rock". I always loved singing the songs, but I knew I was Jewish and that was that! It bothered me, as you, when I was younger. It doesn't any more. I like the happy feeling of the season, and I just block out the religious part. I wish everyone "Happy Holidays" and smile and go on my way. I believe it will never change and there are other things worth fighting for. Christmas will always be the "American way" and I personally, do not think any of us who disagree and don't like it, will ever change it. So....HAPPY CHANUKKAH to all my fellow Jews!!!!! Happy Holidays Abby,