Sunday, December 15, 2013

Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays?

I think this post is gonna touch on a sensitive issue for some folks.  Please keep an open mind until you've read it all.  Then think about it. 

 This time of year I see a lot of posts on social media that look like this:

I'll be honest, it irks me. Every. Single. Time.  Why can't we all just agree that we each get to say what we want to say WITHOUT being rude about it, AND nobody gets offended by whether they are wished a Merry Christmas or a Happy Holidays?  Why do we expect someone else, be it a store employee, a stranger in the parking lot, or even our friends, family, and acquaintances to express OUR beliefs TO us?  It makes zero sense to me, especially when there are so many different celebrations in October, November, and December.  Just take a look at this wiki list of winter holidays/festivals and you'll soon realize there is so much more to this season than just Christmas.

In fact, even if you like to say Merry Christmas, I think it's perfectly okay for a business to ask their employees to say Happy Holidays.  Why should they ask their Jewish, Muslim, Atheist, employees to say something they don't believe?  Saying Happy Holidays does not go against your belief if you celebrate Christmas.  What it is says is, "Hey, I don't know you.  I don't know what you believe, I don't know your culture, I don't know your family.  What I do know is that whatever you celebrate this time of year, I hope it's a good and happy one."  

As a culture, our first thought is always about ourselves first. What about what I believe?  What about why I'm offended?  What I can't figure out is why we always expect everyone to respect our beliefs, but we make absolutely no effort to respect theirs?  Let us not forget that our ACTIONS speak LOUDER than our words.  Simply respecting other people speaks louder to them than ANY Merry Christmas you can muster. 

When I was working, I was very fortunate to work for a company that did not tell me what I had to say to people.  I could say Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, or nothing at all.  Since I believe in Christmas as the celebration of Christ's birth, I chose Merry Christmas.  Every Christmas, I would have an interaction with a patron of the business.  She was Jewish, and during the whole Holiday season, I would say, "Merry Christmas," to which she would reply, "Happy Hanukkah."  We understood one another.  She knew what I believed, I knew what she believed.  Neither of us were offended by what words we used.  (Just a side note here for my Christian friends: Hanukkah is a celebration of a miracle.  If you're offended when someone says Happy Hanukkah to you, you should do some research. Now, back to my point...)  We both showed respect.  That's all I really think we should do during this season.  It might surprise you how people react when you just show them respect.

To the folks reading this that feel Happy Holidays takes Christ out of Christmas, I say this:  Do you really think FORCING people to say Merry Christmas to you spreads the love of Christ during Christmas?  I would argue it does the complete opposite.  

When a checkout person says "Happy Holidays" to you, and then you snap back, "It's Merry Christmas, not Happy Holidays," how effective of a witness is that?  All it does is make YOU look arrogant and intolerant. At that point, I'm pretty certain that the last thing on his/her mind is, "Well there goes a Child of God.  God must be so awesome if people that celebrate Christmas are so kind and wonderful."   Yeah.  That's NOT what they're gonna be thinking.  It will be more along the lines of "I'll shove that Merry Christmas......"  I'm sure you can fill in the rest.  And let's face it, there's plenty of miserable people out there at Christmastime.  People are stressed and busy. We don't need to add more fuel to those fires.  We need to be kind, and loving, and genuine.

I can hear the folks now that say, "But what about me?  I want to say Merry Christmas, but my company won't let me?"  I have a couple things to say about that.  First, sometimes we have to do things we don't want to do.  That is a fact of life.  If you want to call the shots, start a business.  If you feel SO strongly about this issue, do some research, ask in the interview what the company policy is on this topic.  And while you're at it, be sure to ask about everything else that offends you, and then refuse that job.  Frankly, it seems a little ridiculous if you think of it in that context.  If it is that much of a core value to you, then you should stand firm on it the rest of the year.

Secondly, is it so awful to offer a genuine, heart felt, Happy Holidays?  If the person celebrates Christmas, you've been kind to them.  If they don't, you've still been kind. Seems like a win-win kind of thing to me.  The point of saying Merry Christmas is to spread joy, goodwill, cheer, and happiness to the world.  So do it using whatever words it takes.  Words only have power because we give them power.  Make your Happy Holidays the best dang Happy Holidays out there.  That will speak volumes.  That will have power, maybe even more power than a Merry Christmas.

Now, to all of you out there that don't celebrate Christmas as the birth of Christ, but rather as a time of family and goodwill.  You may want people to say Merry Christmas because that's how you were raised.  Or you might feel that Happy Holidays makes Christmas too commercial.  Honestly, it doesn't matter why it offends you so, it matters that it does.  Being respectful, kind, and genuine still applies to you. Remember, not everyone believes exactly the way you do.  Your celebration might not be "Christian" in nature, but you should still be respectful and kind to others.  In fact, the picture I posted wouldn't even upset me so much if it didn't have the "so deal with it" added on the end.  You want to tell people you say Merry Christmas, fine, do it. Make a little picture that says, "This person says Merry Christmas."  That would be SO much more in the spirit of Christmas than "so deal with it."  You're not winning anyone over with those four little words.

To those that want your children raised to say Merry Christmas, that's what you teach at home.  Don't expect society to parent your child in every arena.  There's too much of that these days.  Teach them what this season means to your family, your culture, and you.  But please, do it in a way that teaches them respect for other people.  If you just create a new generation of intolerance, then it's pointless.

So after all that, I think the question it leaves for us all is, how do we respond when someone wishes us a Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas? I say, with love, kindness, and cheer, reply what you believe.  Don't act put out that some stranger doesn't know what holiday you celebrate.  You can just reply, "you have a great day" or if you celebrate Christmas, say "Merry Christmas."  See how simple that is?  You still get to express what you believe without being disrespectful, rude, arrogant, or intolerant.  After all, if this season is one of goodwill, shouldn't we actually practice what we preach?

Thank you to everyone that took the time to read all of this.  As a reward, here's a puppy:

Until next time....

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Character Development: Sister

I introduced you to my sister in another post, but today I thought I would tell a little more about us.  On our own, we are super funny and awesome... but together, we're a force to be reckoned with!   And yeah, I know I shouldn't end a sentence like that... but I did... so go away grammar police (cough...Joy...cough).

My sister and I were not always the close friends we are now.  When she was younger, she sure looked cute, but she was evil... and a biter.

But when I went to college, all that changed.  I'm guessing it was a whole... distance makes the heart grow fonder... sort of thing.  And now, she's my absolute best friend.

She has grown into a beautiful woman, wife, and mom.

She's completely hysterical, and one of the biggest dorks I know.  And don't ever question her knowledge of Doctor Who or Sherlock.  She will be right!

One of my favorite things about my Sister, is that we can just sit and exist together.  There's no pressure to even talk.  We have been known to sit for hours on Skype just doing stuff.  She'll knit or read her mommy forums, I'll sit and chat or play Farmville.  But we're happy, cuz we;re together.

I don't know how I would cope if Skype/Facetime did not exist.  In 2009, my parents moved to FL and my sister and her family moved with them.  This was a big change for us.  We would spend every Friday together.... and sometimes the whole weekend.  During the week, she would pack up my niece, and come spend a few days with me... I got to see her all the time.  Then poof, she was gone.  It was quite the transition. 

But we have figured out how to make it work.  Thank the Lord for wi-fi!!  Now she can even do fun things with me, even if she can't physically be here. 

So even though we are miles apart, we grow closer every day.  And I wouldn't have it any other way.  I love her.  I'll always be there for her.  And she will always be the best sister I could want or need.  I wouldn't trade her for anyone.  I wouldn't let anyone take her from me.  She's mine..... get your own.

Til next time....

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Miss me?

I can't believe it's been 2 years since my last blog post. Time really does fly by... more so the older I get!  I'm gonna try this blogging thing again. Not so much because I feel that I have anything super extraordinary to share with the world, but rather because it was something I enjoyed doing. So stay tuned, fun and excitement is never too far away.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Cheese Effect

Okay, so I know this is gonna sound weird, but my eyes sweat when I eat cheese.  It has done it for a while, mostly with cheddar cheese  While I was staying at my brother's place, I mentioned it to him - as I was chowing down on some cheese.  He looked at me like I had six heads.  Well, I had some cheese today and it happened.  So I used good old Google to search for it.  Guess what?  I'm not alone.  There's even a term for it:  The Cheese Effect.  In some people, one of the ingredients in cheese produces an adrenaline response and causes their eyes to sweat.  How freaky is that??

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Footloose vs. Firestarter

I was watching The X Factor with my brother and his family, and one of the groups sang a medley of songs including Footloose.  Like any 80's child, this song brings back fond memories.  In fact, it instantly brought to mind one thing: Horror Movies.  What do Footloose and Horror flicks have in common?  Hang with me, and you'll find out.

I absolutely love horror flicks.  One of my favorite things about Netflix, is the abundance of really cheesy horror flicks.  I like to be scared and stressed out.  I love to yell at the screen urging the stupid characters to not split up, to turn on a light, to not investigate the noise.... I just love it all.  Well, not all of it.  When I was younger, I could handle the gory movies.  Now.... not so much.  I've become old and easily disgusted.  But other than that, give me a good, scare the pants off ya movie any day of the week.

I know that I get this love of movies from my mother.  She is the horror queen.  She gobbled up Stephen King books and movies.  They were a staple in our home... and as far as I'm concerned, a total parenting WIN!

I recall one particular movie that we saw at the Drive-in:  Stephen King's Firestarter starring the oh so young Drew Barrymore.  I remember mom and dad piling me and my brother into the back of the truck (it was okay to do that in the 80's).  We went to the drive in, got some popcorn, and sat in the back of the truck to watch the flick.  It was a great time and one of my fondest childhood memories.  Every time I hear the song Footloose, it reminds me of this adventure.

You see, this particular drive-in had two screens.  Go ahead and guess what was playing on the other screen... you got it, Footloose.  I know that it is strange that I remember this so clearly.  However, the reason I do is because we were not allowed to see Footloose.  All the music plus the dancing... it was a big no no.  I remember my brother and I sneaking off to take a peek at the screen.  We just had to see what was so evil about it... lol. 

The irony does not escape me that it was perfectly okay for my nine year old eyes to see Firestarter but not Footloose.  But my parents were protecting me from the evils of the world.  I mean, let's face it... I was never going to encounter a girl that set things on fire with her mind.  But... a boy wanting to dance was a real danger. 

So thanks mum and dad for keeping me safe from those crazy boys and instilling in me a love for a good old fashion horror flick.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Extras Spotlight: Pain

I can't help but wonder what God was thinking when he came up with this whole pain thing.  Yeah, I get that it's our body's way of telling us, "Hey, there's something wrong" or "Okay, time to stop playing Wii boxing."  But it seems to me that He could have designed it a little different.  I for one, wouldn't mind a sort of snooze button for pain.  You, know... tug on your right ear twice, twirl around like a ballerina, and then say the Lord's prayer... something like that to just take a little break.

I can hear you already... "Um, aren't pain killers a pain snooze?"  I suppose to some extent.  But anyone with chronic and/or severe pain can tell ya that there's no real snooze there.  I know my pain killers don't so much take the pain away as make me not care that I'm in pain.  And even when the pain subsides some, there's still that feeling.... kind of like you've been hit by a truck, then mauled by a dog, then dragged behind a horse by a rope feeling.  I want a full on, pain snooze button.  

It's hard not to think about pain and its purpose when it's been a constant companion for so many years.  And although I understand the why of pain, it doesn't make me like it any more.

So, for now I will continue to dream about my pain snooze button, until that day when I am whole again.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Character Development: Me

I can be kind of a quirky person.  Those that love me, accept my idiosyncrasies.  Those that don't...well, let's face it, they're in the minority so it doesn't really matter.  Wonder what I mean?  Well let me share a few things with you.

I don't like meat in my spaghetti sauce.  But meatballs are okay.  I do however, like meat in the sauce of lasagna.  Now, what exactly is the difference?  I have no idea.  Pasta with meat.  Oh, and I don't care for tomatoes, so I like light sauce on my spaghetti... light sauce on pizza... lasagna- sauce is not an issue.  And don't get me started on mushrooms.  Don't mind the taste, the texture, not so much.  And while we're on the topic of textures... please stop putting things in Jello.  No fruit, or marshmallows, or any other non-smooth item.  Jello is not supposed to have chunks.  Of course this only applies when I can actually bring myself to eat Jello... do you know what that stuff is made from???  It's not pretty.

I also need the car windshield as clean as possible.  You can imagine what a feat this is in Maine, in the winter.... all that salt and dirt from the roads.  And don't forget about the bugs in the summer.  You wouldn't believe the amount of windshield washer fluid I go through each winter.  It drives me so nuts that even when I'm a passenger in a vehicle, I can only ride so long before I have to ask whoever is driving to clean the windshield.  Ask Jimmy, he knows it all too well.

Another thing....I mess up my words.  And not just the occasional slip up.  I'm talking, full on it's almost my own language, mess up.  I call them oral typos.  People that know me, and know me well, understand this completely.  One of my good friends from college posted as her facebook status one day... "I just want to thank Stephanie Mcilwain for needing me to translate for her during college... that ability has come in very handy with a 3 year old."  And I could not deny it at all.

One of my more infamous slip ups occurred while we were moving my sister into an apartment.  We were talking about where to put the computer station.  So everyone was debating back and forth, and I pointed to a corner and they moved the desk there.  After looking at it, I turned to them all and said.... "Pifba".  What I meant to say was "It fits there perfectly."  Now, I don't know about you, but how Pifba came out of my mouth instead of that sentence is a mystery to this day.  They all just looked at me.  Then Jimmy turned to Crystal and said... did she just say Pifba?  And then the hysterical laughter began. We now use the word to fill in the blanks for a lot of things.

So, that's just a little but about me... hope you have enjoyed the sneak peek into my mind.