COLUMN: Happy Christmas, Merry Holidays

By Marisa Karpes, Columnist

By Marisa Karpes, Columnist

Aren’t you glad that you didn’t get mad at the way your Starbucks holiday cup was designed this year? Okay, so maybe you were not one who detested the design, but it did cause an uproar a couple years back due to its endeavors into politically correct regions. The plain red cup attempted to be inclusive to all faiths by not being Christmas-oriented; however, the lack of anything festive decoration angered many people - especially Christians. 

Flash forward to this past October when President Trump exclaimed to the audience at a summit that America was going to “say Merry Christmas again.” Let me just make one thing clear, this is not going to be a politically driven piece. However, Trump’s recent remarks bring up an interesting viewpoint of how politically correct society has become over the years.

Now, being politically correct isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The purpose of being politically correct is to not offend anyone. And of course, it is ultimately a good thing to not offend others. It is a common assumption that because the majority of a population may be and/or believe in something, it is acceptable to group every single person as having being that and/or having that belief. For example, in Elementary School, I remember “holiday” parties being more Christmas-oriented filled with candy canes and decorated trees. While there may or may not have those who didn’t celebrate Christmas in my class, the festivities were nonetheless limited.

It’s not like school classrooms did this intentionally of course. Most of the time,  it is just easier to generalize. With how diverse some areas are, it is nearly impossible to accommodate  everyone. On the contrary - especially regarding the holiday party situation - some people, may not want to be singled out for being different from the majority even when they want their belief to be recognized. 

So what do we do? What can be done that is the most inclusive and least offensive? We could be like the 2015 Starbucks holiday cup and strip all holiday associations away. But as we saw with the controversy that ensued, that surely wouldn’t work, for it’s not really inclusive. And what’s the fun in such plainness? Obviously, we also cannot just celebrate one culture simply because it’s the easy way out. The best way to start fixing this problem is to educate the public thoroughly about the other holidays. Give them more exposure. Take time during the week before winter break to immerse children into other cultures besides the one they are used to.

But what do we say? “Happy Holidays” may be the best neutral option, and a good one at that, but many people want to keep in touch with their own beliefs, which is also perfectly okay. In the so-called debate between “Happy Holidays” and “Merry Christmas,” why not just say both? It isn’t that much of a mouthful. “Merry Christmas” of course does not have to be “Merry Christmas,” but whatever holiday you do indeed practice. By doing that, you can be true to yourself and inclusive when you don’t know what a person may practice. Of course when you do, you could swap whatever the other holiday is with “Happy Holidays.”

Whether political-correctness is viewed as beneficial or as a burden, the most important thing to remember is that the holidays are about spreading love, and now is not the time to spew any sort of arrogance. So, this holiday season, be open to other cultures and spread all the love and cheer you possibly can.