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Monday, Jan. 23, 2017

Happy (fill in the blank)

Posted Wednesday, December 14, 2011, at 9:01 PM

The Christmas I was 8 years old and teetering on the brink of an "is-he-or-isn't-he real" belief in Santa Claus, I was very concerned that if my parents were telling the truth, Santa might not find me or my sister and brother.

We lived at the time in the city of Tripoli, Libya, where an abundance of palm trees and sand took the place of snow and bare-branched oaks and maples, and I thought it was very possible that the old fellow might zoom right past us without so much as a backward glance.

We did have a lovely Christmas tree, imported from Germany, in plenty of time before Christmas Eve for my father to perform his annual Grinch-like mumbling as he tried yet again to make the tree more perfect and assign the perfect branch location for every light bulb. My siblings and I fidgeted with tinsel and ornaments, whining about how long it was taking him while my mother tried unsuccessfully to keep us from annoying him to the point of shouting.

In other words, it was a pretty normal Christmas for us, except for location.

It worried me that although we had a tree inside the house, there were no outside decorations on our apartment building. In fact, except for a few decorations at businesses owned by the local Italian nationals, it wasn't beginning to look at all like Christmas anywhere in the city.

When I asked my mother why, she explained that most of the population of Libya, other than foreigners like us, along with Italian and British nationals, was Moslem (the term in use at the time). It was the first time I realized that not everyone in the world celebrates -- or even cares about -- Christmas.

Christmas -- and Santa -- came and went that year and it wasn't long before the truth about Santa became unfortunately clear. But the idea of Christmas as a day not universally observed took a little longer to consider and understand.

In the U.S., roughly 75 percent of the population identifies itself as Christian. The remaining 25 percent includes Jews, atheists and agnostics, Muslims and a variety of other less well-known religions or belief structures.

Worldwide, however, the picture shifts dramatically. Christian believers constitute only about 33 percent of the world's population, with the various types of believers in Islam coming in around 21 percent. The next largest group is those who are non-religious at 16 percent, followed by Hindu religionists at 14 percent. The rest of the world's population is divided among Jews, Buddhists, Sikhs, Chinese traditionalists and tribal-indigenous peoples and many other, smaller groups.

Does this shed any light on how we greet each other during the holiday season? Well, I suppose that depends on how seriously you take the intended-to-be-light-hearted greetings people toss around so freely at this time of year. And make no mistake, people take it very seriously indeed.

At this point in December, I'm saying "Merry Christmas!" to everyone I see. A few weeks ago, I was saying "Happy Thanksgiving!" and in a few weeks I'll be saying "Happy New Year!"

But maybe it's easier, or as some would have it, more politically correct, to just say "Happy holidays." That way, I wouldn't have to figure out if the people I'm speaking to either do or do not celebrate Christmas, Kwaanza, Hannukah, New Year's or National Secretary's Day, or any other holiday or none of those days or only two or them or three or four.

If I greet people with "Happy holidays," I'm missing no one. I'm not excluding Christmas, I'm including it AND every other holiday that occurs during the same period. I'm not singling out a Christian celebration, or trying to deny it, I'm trying to include it with all the others.

Here in the Midwest, unless you're in a very large city, it's likely okay to say "Merry Christmas." If you're in a large city, especially on the East or West Coasts, it's better to say "Happy Holidays," since the concentration of religions other than Christian is greater in larger cities than small ones.

Unfortunately, there are those who are offended when they hear "Happy Holidays." They believe, for a reason I cannot fathom, that this is an attempt to deny the fact of Christmas. It's not. It's an attempt to acknowledge that even though we are not all on the same page, even though we are not all Christians, we still want our friends, our neighbors, even people we do not know, to have an enjoyable holiday season, no matter what they believe or do not believe.

Love thy neighbor. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Peace on earth, goodwill to men. Isn't wishing people well "the reason for the season?"

Whatever your belief, or non-belief, have a wonderful December 25th.

Showing comments in chronological order
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Sorry... if I want to say Merry Christmas to you and you are not a Christian.... if you are a Jew, or Muslim or an Athiest does this really offend you?

Is it some how worse to be offended by the term Happy Holidays than to be offended by the statement Merry Christmas?

How about each person make a choice about how they believe and if they CHOOSE to say to you "Merry Christmas" then you accept it graciously with the intended friendliness, or not get offended if someone says happy holidays? The whole politically correctness issue grows tiresome and takes away MY freedom and takes away from everyones freedom to celebrate holidays or participate in religion freely.

-- Posted by mrxray on Thu, Dec 15, 2011, at 2:49 AM

Ah, mrxray, you never disappoint me.

I have no personal preference regarding greetings at this time of year.

But I do wonder if YOU would graciously accept the intended friendliness of someone wishing you the blessings of Ramadan when that time of year occurs.

-- Posted by Kathy Fairchild on Thu, Dec 15, 2011, at 8:25 AM

Happy ChristmaKwanzakah!

I'm always amazed by people's ability to be irritated by another's cheery greeting. You would think people would be happy that someone is greeting them at all!

I pretty much say "Merry Christmas!" to most people around here - and I would be happy to hear "Happy Hanakkah" or "Happy Kwaanzaa" as well!

-- Posted by koeller77 on Thu, Dec 15, 2011, at 2:42 PM

Happy Humbug! Let's not leave anyone out.

-- Posted by Oklahoma Reader on Thu, Dec 15, 2011, at 10:35 PM

okr -

isn't "happy humbug" sort of an oxy-moron ... kind of like government intelligence ... or jumbo shrimp ... or some such nonsensicle phrase?

btw - happy holidays and merry christmas and happy hanakkah and happy kawanza and so on into infinity ... to everyone!

-- Posted by zeke on Fri, Dec 16, 2011, at 10:09 AM

also - i think i'm gonna come back as a druid - is there a "happy" or "merry" something that they celebrate this time of year?


-- Posted by zeke on Fri, Dec 16, 2011, at 10:10 AM

zeke: Solstice?

-- Posted by Eric Crump on Fri, Dec 16, 2011, at 10:15 AM

then - "Happy Solstice" by golly.

-- Posted by zeke on Fri, Dec 16, 2011, at 10:46 AM

Naw Zeke, I reckon Happy "Humbug" ain't no oxymoron. Humbug: 1. something intended to delude or deceive.

2. the quality of falseness or deception.

3. a person who is not what he or she claims or pretends to be; impostor.

4. something devoid of sense or meaning; nonsense: a humbug of technical jargon.

5. British . a variety of hard mint candy.

Oxymoron: 1.expression with contradictory words: a phrase in which two words of contradictory meaning are used together for special effect, e.g. "wise fool" or "legal murder"

In addition to the above definitions we have Dicken's character Ebenezer Scrooge's use of the word, which is the most familiar to most of us. He used it to purvey the opinion that Christmas, and its trappings is a fraud, and seemed to delight in doing so.

In the spirit of the season, I just felt that even those miserable wretches who decry all that is of Christmas should not be overlooked. Thus I attached Happy to Humbug.

Meanwhile as I am reasonably certain of your predilection, Happy Christmas to you! ;)

(Note: new personal record for writing at length in the much ado about nothing category)

-- Posted by Oklahoma Reader on Fri, Dec 16, 2011, at 11:00 AM


congrats on the new personal record - and happy holidays to you as well!


i get it - bright solstice ... you're a clever one, you are ...


-- Posted by zeke on Fri, Dec 16, 2011, at 12:33 PM

Zeke what would we do without Cheetah's sunny disposition? ;)

-- Posted by Oklahoma Reader on Fri, Dec 16, 2011, at 3:13 PM

Happy Solstice, indeed, to my husband and me, - that's our anniversary!

And Oh...it rhymes! Serendipity!


-- Posted by Kathy Fairchild on Fri, Dec 16, 2011, at 10:00 PM

Thanks Kathy,

For sharing your thoughts.

Postings had been meager of late. I figured everyone was making preparations for the holidays. If not cranking out ribbon candy for Slater. You stirred the mixture.

Perhaps, we could simply wish everyone Happy Serendipity.

Did you ever go to Serendipity, the ice cream parlor nearabouts Bloomingdale's on 61st I think. Jackie O took her children there in the early 70s?

Happiness to all,

-- Posted by upsedaisy on Fri, Dec 16, 2011, at 10:36 PM

I meant to post this earlier, then I forgot to. I recall that the word holiday is derived from old english "holy day". Wishing someone Happy Holiday is no less religious than wishing someone a Merry Christmas. Aha! I got the last word.

-- Posted by Oklahoma Reader on Mon, Dec 26, 2011, at 10:03 PM

Police, Prosecutorial

and Judicial


"There is no crueler tyranny than that which is exercised under cover of law, and with the colors of justice ..."

- U.S. v. Jannotti, 673 F.2d 578, 614 (3d Cir. 1982)

This doesn't apply to the blog topic...but this county is nothing but who knows who, etc. I'm embarassed to claim to live in this county. There is not TRUE justice here, only a "playpin" of who knows who. Unfortunately, most here are born and raised here and FEAR everything. If you take these political "superiors" out of their secure playpin, they will shrivel up and tuck their tails and run. Preying upon the poor and who do wrong, and making headlines is nothing short of bullying. Anyone can manipulate and bully when they are on their own turf. I've just sat back and watched. It's pathetic. There never will be true justice in this town as long as it operates in crime dealings, etc. I'd love to see the ACLU ride up in this place and see the goings on! Oh, but then again, Marshall will always be Marshall. So, who really cares...unless you are stuck here. Thank God i'm not! When one lives in a bigger city and even in another state, perhaps, TRUE justice can then only prevail.

-- Posted by bsc1223 on Sat, Feb 25, 2012, at 3:39 AM

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Kathy Fairchild received a Bachelor of Arts degree in business administration in 1986 from Marycrest College, Davenport, Iowa. She is also a 2003 graduate of the paralegal program at New York University. She moved to Marshall in 2006, following a career of more than 30 years with the world's largest farm equipment manufacturer. She is an Air Force brat and grandmother of four.
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