How to Be Nice During the Holidays: A Primer for the American Christian

oXOWfBWWhen I started blogging on WordPress back in 2013, I wrote a post called “Christians Don’t Own December.” And I vowed to share it every time a friend or family member posted a “Happy Holidays is Evil” meme on social media.

I shut down that blog last year, so I felt like it was time to write a new commentary on the so-called “War On Christmas.”

Feel free to share.

1. You are allowed to say Merry Christmas. Nobody with half a brain minds if you say Merry Christmas. Nobody with half a brain is going to be upset or offended if you say Merry Christmas.

  • 1b. Lots of people would like it if you were nice to them when they said Happy Holidays to you. They would like it even more if you could stand up for them when people are rude and mean to them about not celebrating Christmas, because that’s the kind of thing Jesus would do.
  • 1c. Lots of people would like it if they could celebrate their own holidays during the winter without having to listen to you gripe about how your special day is under attack simply because they exist and want to have their holidays recognized.

2. If you do happen to meet a few people who seem to be offended or upset when you say Merry Christmas to them, it’s okay for you to be irritated. Those people are stupid. They don’t reflect the attitudes and responses of 99% of people in America.

  • 2b. Optional, but if you really wanted to go the extra mile and be super nice, you could reframe those encounters from the perspective that the worst thing anyone can do to you is give you a dirty look. That makes you pretty fortunate compared to many folks of other faiths in the United States who still fear physical violence when they go to celebrate their winter holidays in public, and who can still face lots of other types of persecution.
  • 2c. As a Christian, you might even say it’s the godly thing to let those encounters go and devote your energy to helping make sure that your friends and neighbors who don’t celebrate your holiday feel supported and safe during this time of year.

3. Christmas is not a “national holiday” in the United States. I hear this one a lot, and it’s not true, no matter how much Christmas is given special significance in secular culture with days off from work or school. It’s unconstitutional for the United States of America to recognize religious holidays. Christmas is a Federal holiday, which only means that federal employees get the day off. It doesn’t have any bearing on whether or not saying”Merry Christmas” is some sort of cultural institution that all Americans have to adhere to.

  • 3b. Even if it was a national holiday, the nice thing to do is still to recognize and respect that some people in America celebrate other holidays during the winter months.
  • 3c. That means, even if you could make an argument that “Merry Christmas” was or should be a standard holiday greeting for everyone because it’s a (secular) national holiday (which it isn’t) some people might still choose to use other greetings, like Happy Holidays, or Happy Hanukkah, because those are also valid ways to give a holiday greeting.

4. And in closing, please remember that there are over 20 cultures and groups who celebrate some sort of holiday during the winter months other than Christmas. You don’t own December, and in fact most of the things we do in America that are codified as “Christmas” customs were appropriated from pre-Christian celebrations of Yule. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying Christmas or finding spiritual significance in Christ’s birth. It would help a lot of if your celebration of Christ translated into some grace for the folks around you who don’t share your faith background.

Daredevil and Disability Focus

So far, a lot of the posts in this series have focused on superheroes. I want to be more inclusive, and I didn’t intend to focus so much on one genre, but I’m trying to let the series developed organically around the discussions that my posts create.  Part of the reason that superhero stories come to mind so quickly is that they’re one of the few places that consistently show characters with disabilities in prominent roles. That’s a problem in itself, and I plan to address that issue, but since I’ve already talked about Oracle, Professor X, and Iron Man, I think this would be a good time to bring up Daredevil. (the movie.)

Cover of "Daredevil - The Director's Cut ...

Cover via Amazon

Before I start addressing problems, I want to be clear.  I think Marvel should get a lot of credit for trying and should be recognized for the simple fact of having characters like Professor X and Daredevil–not to mention making a movie about a costumed hero with a disability.

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Beyond Professor X and Oracle: Moving Disability Awareness Forward

This is a repost from my old blog.

I’ve been involved in a lot of conversations discussions about portrayals of people who use wheelchairs in prominent television and movie roles. There are only four that I can think of.

Ironside debuted in 1967 and ran until 1975. A recent attempt to reboot the series was canceled after only eight episodes. I think Ironside was significant enough to warrant its own post, since it was the first show to have a character with a disability in the title role.  I’ll be discussing Logan Cale later on when I talk about romance and disability in the media.  This post will look at Professor Xavier and Oracle

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Geordi Laforge, Disability Consciousness and the Future

 

This is a repost from my old blog, part of Redefining Disability

 

One of my favorite examples of a character with a disability is Geordi Laforge from Star Trek: the Next Generation. Geordi was Chief Engineer aboard the Enterprise,and his role as a scientist was a lot more important than the fact that he was blind.

Geordi was created in 1987, and he is still the main example I use when I talk about how I would like 

Geordi La Forge

Geordi La Forge (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

to see characters with disabilities integrated into a television show or movie franchise. Geordi is also the only example I can think of to show a character with a disability who does not have an acquired injury.

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Iron Man, Acquired Injury, and the Biggest Missed Opportunity In Disability Representation Ever

This is a re-post from my old blog.  It was part of a project called Redefining Disability, which I’ll talk more about in subsequent posts.

 

 

The Mark III armor as featured in the 2008 fil...

The Mark III armor as featured in the 2008 film Iron Man. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The only character that I have ever felt a strong sense of identification with as a person who has a disability is Tony Stark.

You might find this surprising, because Tony doesn’t really identify as someone with a disability. He isn’t presented that way. He doesn’t think of the shrapnel near his heart as something that fundamentally changes him, “separates him” from other people, or puts him in a completely different category of human experience. That’s usually an issue in fiction whenever a main character has an acquired injury. Unless we’re talking about mental health issues like PTSD, Tony as an icon for disability awareness probably doesn’t register in people’s minds. That’s EXACTLY why Tony is more representative of my experience as a person with a disability than anyone else.

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Why Tinker Bell Is Awesome

This is a repost from my old blog. I still haven’t seen the Neverbeast movie, FYI.

 

I wasn’t interested in Disney‘s Tinker Bell when it came out in 2008. I thought it would be another lame “re-tell the movie from the perspective of the side kick” thing like The Lion King 1 1/2. I have never been crazy about Tinkerbell either. So I passed on the movie and completely missed the fact that there were sequels. When I saw the series on Netflix earlier this year I wrote the whole thing off as a shallow marketing ploy aimed at little girls who preferred fairies over princesses. (They also changed the spelling of the character’s name, which is a pet peeve of mine.)

Finally, a couple of weeks ago, I was writing a post about how marketing is relevant to the success of any product or service — including entertainment — and I realized I was being a pissy little hypocrite when it came to the Disney Fairies. So, since my Netflix is active for this month, I decided to put my big girl pants on and just sit down and watch Tinker Bell.

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Star Trek, Sex, and Patriarchy: Is Will Riker A Jerk?

A few nights ago, a friend and I were talking about Star Trek. I brought up Cmdr. William Riker, who happens to be my favorite TNG cast member and the character I feel is the perfect embodiment of the space captain trope. (I know he’s the first officer, not the captain.  Keep reading.  It will make sense at the end.)

My friend characterized Riker as “a slut” and implied that because he enjoyed casual sex, he had no moral boundaries. Later, he went on to describe Riker as a jerk, presumably because Riker has multiple sex partners over the course of the series, is not interested in long-term relationships with most of them, and even when he is interested in a long-term relationship with Deanna Troi, he doesn’t press the issue and continues getting involved in casual relationships with women he meets throughout the galaxy.

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