• Britt Riner

Happy Hanukkah! Merry Christmas! Happy What?



One of Primerrily’s goals is to make civility about old-fashioned kindness and respect as opposed to political correctness. In this four-minute read, we'll share how you can.


As Harvey Mansfield presciently stated in 1991, “Politicization. . . leads to political correctness.” It doesn't take a political philosopher to figure that out. Navigating the verbal tripwires in today’s “politically correct” society can be hard, whether it’s in your kids’ classrooms or in the checkout aisle in the grocery store. No salutation or benediction can be more puzzling than what to say in the month of December. “Happy Holidays” feels vague to many, and staunch conservatives resist “Happy Holidays” out of concern that the Left is seeking to erase Christmas and secularize America. Even some prominent Jews such like Dennis Prager feel insulted when wished “Happy Holidays.” He explains:


“I'm a non-Christian. I'm a Jew. Christmas is not a religious holy day for me. But I'm an American, and Christmas is an American national holiday. Therefore, as an American, it is my holiday — though not my holy day — as much as it is for my fellow Americans who are Christian. It was a Jewish-American, Irving Berlin, who wrote "White Christmas," one of America's most popular Christmas songs. In fact, according to a Jewish musician writing in The New York Times, ‘almost all the most popular Christmas songs were written by Jews’ . . . And while on the subject of Jews, here's a question for those Jews disturbed by "merry Christmas": Should Israeli radio and TV stop saying "Shabbat Shalom" to be more inclusive of Israel's non-Jewish minority? It borders on the misanthropic, not to mention the mean-spirited, to want to deny nearly all of your fellow citizens the joy of having Christmas parties or being wished a merry Christmas. By not wishing me a merry Christmas, you are not being inclusive. You are excluding me from one of my nation's national holidays.”


We like Prager’s perspective, but how can a Christmas-celebrator keep the “Christ” in Christmas and still consciously show that “old-fashioned” respect (not political correctness) for the religious plurality among her neighbors?


We at Primerrily like to show respect by doing what we often suggest -- asking a question, by demonstrating genuine interest and warm curiosity in another person. We want to take this opportunity to celebrate the fact that we live in a country where religious freedom and pluralism is a touchstone of our society, not a peripheral matter. We do this, for instance, by asking a question of a friendly stranger who is ringing us up at the store.


We at Primerrily like to show respect by doing what we often suggest -- asking a question, by demonstrating genuine interest and warm curiosity in another person.

Friendly stranger: Thanks for shopping with us today. Did you find everything okay?


Primerrily supporter: You’re welcome. Yes, I did, thanks. . . .


[Awkward silence ensues as she scans your items, you check your phone in hopes of some new texts, or you choose to ask. . . ]


. . . So what holiday are you celebrating this December?


Friendly stranger: [surprised someone asked her a question about herself other than the perfunctory, “How are you?”, to which she is supposed to reply with an answer that sadly doesn’t always receive attention from the person who asked.]


Oh, me? Christmas.


Primerrily supporter: Well, I wish you a Merry Christmas then! I also celebrate Christmas.

What’s your favorite part of this season?


Other holiday response scenarios also have us in heartfelt connection with our neighbors -- all from bonding over intentional conversation (a seemingly fleeting act of kindness): “Well, I wish you a wonderful Hanukkah! [Or] Diwali! [Or] Kwanzaa! [Or whatever is meaningfully holy or festive to that individual].” Followed by “What’s your favorite part of this season?


And before you know it, your groceries are bagged, and you walk back to your car with more of the Christmas (or your whatever your holiday is) spirit than you started checking off your shopping list. The times we’ve exchanged greetings this way, we’ve been amazed how it has struck up a conversation about the actual traditions enjoyed by a person and his or her family. Let’s be real: People are not going to start celebrating Christmas because you told them to have a merry one, but they will respect you (and things you care about) more when you show respect to them. What a great way to model kindness to your kids and bring back more of that old-school kindness we have on our Christmas (and Hanukkah) lists this year.


Let’s be real: People are not going to start celebrating Christmas because you told them to have a merry one, but they will respect you (and things you care about) more when you show respect to them.

Note: If you wish someone Happy Hanukkah, make sure you do it between December 10-18. This year, the menorah’s candles will have finished their work just about a week before the Christmas Eve candles are lit ;)


And one more note: If you are still on the hunt for presents for one of the eight special nights or stocking stuffers or the gift for your sister-in-law, check out Primerrily's shop with attractive patriotic apparel as well as our clever take on the non-mask masks.

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