Sunday, December 14, 2014

In Defense of the Happy Holidays Greeting

Recently, I greeted an acquaintance with, "Happy Holidays!"  What I received in return was the most unexpected reply, "Come on, Linda, you mean Merry Christmas, don't you?"

Since I knew that this particular person was Christian, it might have seemed more appropriate to wish a Merry Christmas as I left, but we were in a public venue with people who I knew did not celebrate the Christian holy day of Christmas, let alone the secular version.  So... the greeting of Happy Holidays as I was leaving seemed very appropriate.

As you can see from the picture above, there are many Holy/holi days in the winter months.  The ones pictured include six that are not Christian. Since I work, live and communicate in a multicultural, multi-faith traditioned society, I believe wishing others a happy holiday is A. kind, B. thoughtful and C. more than appropriate.

I also think about that adage that many use, "What would Jesus do?"  Well, first of all, Jesus wouldn't have said "Merry Christmas," because it didn't exist in his day.  Since I believe that Jesus was inclusive and preached the commandment to "Love one another,"  I think he would tell us not to be so egocentric and realize that sharing the Creator's Love means being inclusive.  

By the way, this isn't a new idea.  I learned it as a child from my mother.  We lived in South Boston, which many think of as the "Irish" enclave of Boston; however, having grown-up there, I can tell you that while the Irish were in the majority, we had a very ethnically diverse community.  So, when the Jewish pharmacist, who worked across the street from my home was celebrating Chanukah, my mother would always greet him with, "Happy Chanukah, Max!"  Likewise, when the Chinese family down the street was celebrating their New Year's, my mother would greet them accordingly.  When she wasn't sure what holiday someone would be celebrating, she would simply smile and say, "Happy holidays to you!"

So, the next time someone is thoughtful and kind enough to wish you a happy holidays, don't get your knickers in a twist!  Return their kindness with a smile, saying "Same to you!"

Blessings of this season of Love, Light and Peace no matter how you celebrate it.


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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Celebrating Poets and Poetry

 Reading poetry at Smith College

During a very stormy night, approximately 50 people braved the weather to gather at the Smith College Poetry Center.  The occasion was the celebration of the conclusion of the 30 Poems in November fundraiser for the Center for New Americans. Poets from the community, including several young people, faculty of CNA and board members, read their poetry.  Poems by the students of CNA were on display.  The evening was a wonderful celebration of literacy.

One of my dear sister/friends donated to the cause in honor of a friend of hers who had become a citizen.  When I read this, I contacted her to offer my thanks. I told her I would write a poem in honor of her friend. She was thrilled, immediately putting the two of us in contact.

I had a wonderfully delightful chat with Amelia.  She immigrated to the US from Nicaragua.  She came as a young girl, becoming a citizen as an adult.  Her story touched me in so many ways. The following is my poem celebrating her.

Snapshots of Amelia 

Photo 1 

Wonder-eyed she poses – 
the gift of freedom 
packaged in Hollywood 
lights and Disney song 

Photo 2 

Earthshaken, the Christmas visit
becomes a dream come true- 
uniformed in a smile - 
ready for school in America 

Photo 3 

A move to Uncle Sam’s city, 
engulfed in the shadow 
of monuments of history - 
can you love a country? 

Photo 4 

Right hand raised in promise, 
this land becomes her own - 
citizen of the red, white and blue - 
once just the fancy of a child, now, 
truth – cornerstone to new life. 

© 2014 Linda M. Rhinehart Neas