I finally did it. I finally was able to put my finger on exactly what’s bugging me about this particular Holiday season.
In case I haven’t been perfectly clear on this, I’m a stickler for calling things by their right names. While I give nicknames to family members and parts of my house (ever since the Simpsons our garage has been “the car hole”) it’s always done tongue in cheek, after we’ve all accepted the right name for a thing.
And that’s what’s bugging me this year. As I mentioned earlier, the husband and I watched an HGTV one-hour special about Decorating Disney World for The Holidays. There was a segment about giant trees. A segment about giant gingerbread houses and carousels and even a gingerbread town.
There was nothing about any giant menorah or giant kinara or giant hourglass.
My point is that they were clearly talking about Christmas. Clearly. Not about every holiday that happens in December.
Now I see two things wrong with this off the bat.
The first thing is that “Holidays” has become a euphemism in many people’s vocabulary. It seems to mean “well, we’re talking mostly about Christmas and New Years, but we’ll say ‘holiday’ so no one is offended.” It’s imprecise and has a sort of faux-openness about it. Because Disney World is not the only place where they say Holidays but mean Christmas.
And that’s the second thing wrong with it. That faux sense of inclusion that happens. As though by simply changing the name from Christmas to Holidays we won’t offend Jewish people or Islamic people or Atheists or Pagans. There is no other way in which many of the users of the word Holidays tries to accomodate those who actually observe the non-Christmas holidays. Well, I suppose the Pagans have it easier than most. They can just re-coopt (?) the trees and the yule logs and the lights and the–well, pretty much everything that we use for Christmas except a creche. But Jewish people maybe get some chocolate coins and a menorah if they’re lucky. I don’t know enough about Kwanzaa or Islamic observances to know what they don’t have–but the fact that I don’t know about it proves my point. It isn’t pervasive enough to be observed by the Celebrators of Christmas. But we still call it The Holidays. Like everyone really is included.
And they’re not.
It’s as imprecise as calling a vulva a vagina or referring to the entire abdomen as “the stomach”.
So I wish we would just get over this fake niceness and admit that we aren’t as hail-fellow-well-met as we’d like to think. Perhaps we should try to be nicer. In the spirit of the holidays.