As a side note about the gold greeting you see above, this is the cover of a small paper photo frame. The photo inside is long gone, but the frame remained in the family photo collection. Due to the current controversy surrounding "Happy Holidays", "Merry Christmas" and "Season's Greetings", I thought this little historic piece from the earlier part of the 20th century was quite telling. For my family, Happy Holidays and Season's Greetings were just another way of saying "Merry Christmas". There was no exclusion intended and in fact, we used it (for generations) as a way to include a Happy New Year in the mix. So, in my book, none of the previous phrases are insulting to the Spirit of the Holiday. However, I have enjoyed the resurgence of Merry Christmas. I grew up in a city where the Menorah was right next to the Nativity Scene, and in my own family we put out a Menorah during Hanukkah as something of a symbol to honor the season, even though we do not fully celebrate this Holiday. I've always believed America to be the place that welcomed all religions and beliefs.....one that celebrated them and encouraged their celebration.....not one that silenced their celebration. I never want America to be a place of such restriction that a person is forbidden from wishing someone a Merry Christmas, etc. If you want to wish me a Happy Solstice, bring it! I will assume you are wishing me a happy time, a season of celebrating something good. The world can be such a dark and dismal place. We all need reasons and seasons to celebrate. Historically, religion has provided those seasons for us as a nation. From its inception to the present, our culture has been infused with a religious base. That base allowed for freedom to celebrate, not rules to silence the various celebrations.
So, as December 24th and 25th roles around.....Merry Christmas to all!
And well our Christian sires of old
Loved when the year its course had roll’d,
And brought blithe Christmas back again,
With all his hospitable train.
Domestic and religious rite
Gave honour to the holy night;
On Christmas Eve the bells were rung;
On Christmas Eve the mass was sung:
That only night in all the year,
Saw the stoled priest the chalice rear.
The damsel donn’d her kirtle sheen;
The hall was dress’d with holly green;
Forth to the wood did merry-men go,
To gather in the mistletoe.
Then open’d wide the Baron’s hall
To vassal, tenant, serf and all;
Power laid his rod of rule aside
And Ceremony doff’d his pride.
The heir, with roses in his shoes,
That night might village partner choose;
The Lord, underogating, share
The vulgar game of ‘post and pair’.
All hail’d, with uncontroll’d delight,
And general voice, the happy night,
That to the cottage, as the crown,
Brought tidings of salvation down.
Excerpt from Marmion by Sir Walter Scott