A friend invited me to a Christmas party last week, and made a point of emphasizing that it was a Christmas party, not a holiday party, because he’s a Christian, and he celebrates Christmas. This particular friend has been going on about this quite pointedly for years, so I needled him a bit about his feeling the need to explain this to me again this year. I’ve heard all the diatribes before. I still say “Happy Holidays” and not “Merry Christmas” to people, most often, first because I typically mean to include New Years, and second because I work with people from various cultural and religious backgrounds, and I do mean to be inclusive of all of them and to wish them happy whatever, even if the winter holidays mean nothing in particular to them but a few days off. That’s my choice. I have no desire to impose that on my friend, and I have no intention of allowing him to impose his preference on me.
Last week I was also reading an Anthony Bordain book, in which he was talking about his ongoing battle with vegetarians, and how rude he thinks it is, when one is traveling in another country, to refuse an earnest offering of meat. I can see his point there. I don’t eat beef or chicken or pork generally speaking, but I would feel rude refusing if I were in a foreign country and someone offered me a local delicacy to try that contained meat. I would probably try it, usual preferences aside. When traveling, the point is to experience other cultures, not to insist on one’s own viewpoint at all costs. Of course, my non-meat eating is not terribly consistent, nor is it morally or politically motivated, largely, so it’s easy for me to bend the rules.
We are living in the information age, and lately, it seems, we have an insatiable need to educate ourselves and one another. I’m a bit sick of this, quite honestly. We all seem to be looking, perpetually, for the healthier way, the more moral way, the more environmentally friendly way, and when we find the latest and greatest, we have to tell everyone else about it, presumably so that they can be better, more informed, healthier people too. But often, it’s also so that we can feel that we are just a little bit better, a little bit more educated on these matters that our friends. Sometimes it’s more important to connect and be together than it is to make sure we’re the epitome of uprightness, environmental friendliness, and and moral fortitude. Sometimes the virtue of connection is by far the higher virtue.
I wish everyone an abundance of connection this holiday season.