I was going back and forth with Anil Dash on Twitter today about Christmas greetings. If you don’t know Anil, you should. He’s one of those bright people of the internets who have been around forever.
He was saying that people wishing him “Merry Christmas,” especially when they know he’s not Christian, is exhibiting privilege and rudeness. (I’m paraphrasing…you can see his twitter feed for the whole conversation.)
My point was that “Merry Christmas” should be taken as a greeting, much like “How are you?” No one really cares how you are, and no one cares if you worship Christ.
Anil said (over the course of several tweets, not all of them to me) that we should not presume this is a monoculture and that he felt the need to educate people.
He got me thinking.
So tonight, when I went to Trader Joe’s, I was a bit taken aback by the cashier asking “Are you all done with your Christmas shopping?”
That seemed a bit presumptious, even to me. It was a bit more than a Christmas greeting. It was an assumption of a shared identity. As a matter of fact, I don’t really do any Christmas shopping. My family gave up exchanging gifts long ago, so I just buy a few gift cards for friends, or take them to dinner or a concert.
“Um…yeah, I’m really not into Christmas so much,” I said, as sort of an experiment to see how she would respond.
When our transaction concluded, she again said, “Merry Christmas. You have a nice Christmas. Merry Christmas.”
I couldn’t believe the pushiness. Anil was obviously right and I was wrong – I just hadn’t noticed the extent of it all these years. People were SHOVING Christmas down other people’s throats, even after they had made it pretty clear that they didn’t celebrate the holiday. How rude! Man, was I embarrassed about how I had assumed this was a simple case of taking offense where none was intended.
I walked out to the parking lot, shaking my head. Then I looked down to see my necklace. My strand-of-Chrismas-lights necklace. That lighted up. And blinked. And suddenly reminded me of why the cashier thought I might just be excited about Christmas.