Tal and I received our first Christmas card in yesterday's mail. Since our decorations are still packed away, I don't yet have access to the basket we traditionally deposit the cards in as they arrive.
Our lone Christmas card is, for the moment, standing on my desk. My eyes have been drawn to it repeatedly over the course of the day. Featuring on its front an illustration of a donkey and a poem about the donkey's role in the nativity story, it makes me smile.
What doesn't make me smile is the in-full-swing annual greeting war. And, it's only December 2nd. We do find the oddest things to fulminate over all the while letting some real monsters slide by. But, that's another topic for another day.
It seems to me that when we greet one another at this time of year it's generally well-intentioned, no matter what actual words are uttered. So why are we putting to the test what people say -- or write -- to us? After all the now-questioned "greetings of the season" was found on pre-1900 Victorian-era cards and "happy holidays" was added to Christmas parlance by none other than Irvin Berlin in 1942 with his song of the same name.
Since then holiday creep has had its way with us. Christmas, in reality a day and a half event at most and a 12-day season running from Christmas Eve to the Feast of the Epiphany (January 6th) for some few Christian denominations, is now an end of the year celebration stretching from Thanksgiving through New Years. And, Christians are not the only ones doing the celebrating.
So, say what you feel called to say between now and early January. But, please go easy on the folks who greet you. They are trying to be pleasant. Receive the hope their greetings are intended to convey. Judging them -- the greeters and the greetings -- sort of means you're missing the point, the point not only of the words offered to you but of the season you might be trying to uphold as well.