Tuesday, December 14, 2010

What's in a name?

Today as I walked into my favorite big box store, the one where if you time it right you can graze from the buffet for lunch, the guy who checks the membership card was waving a sleeve of papers at me imploring, “Don’t forget your holiday stamps.” I replied, “I already have my Christmas stamps,” emphasis on Christmas. Where was that coming from, I wondered. I sounded just like my mother when she, to my embarrassment, would get irritated in public places. As if that weren’t enough, when I got to the counter to pick up my photographs, the girl asked, “Are you here for holiday cards or just prints?” Correcting her I answered, “I’m not here for Christmas cards.” Realizing I spoke too softly, a more confident tone with “I am not here for CHRISTMAS cards,” erupted from my mouth. There she was again. My mother’s voice. Not the words but the definite tone.

The word holiday is being forced upon us everywhere. In some ways I don’t mind the substitution since many traditions around this time of year seem to dishonor Christmas. After all what does Grandma getting run over by a reindeer really have to do with Christmas? (For that matter, what does it have to do with any holiday except maybe a day off from school or work to attend the funeral.) And though sleigh bells, roasting chestnuts, and Frosty the Snowman are linked with the big season, they really just celebrate winter. But when we get to angels, good will among men, bells, joy and peace, the giving of gifts, and those twelve days, then I suggest we stick with calling it what it is, Christmas, a day and a season that most people around the world celebrate in one way or another

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