Happy Holidays!

Happy Monday to everyone! Likewise, happy holidays to most of us and “happy Festivus for the rest of us!”

Personally, I don’t understand why some people get so upset by the greeting, “happy holidays!” – as opposed to “Merry Christmas!” Some of those people say that the greeting takes away from the “reason for the season”, which (to them) is only Christmas and the birth of Christ.

There are other holidays going on during the same week as Christmas and they all have their own “reason for the season” too. For example, the celebration of Hanukkah, which began at sundown yesterday and continues for a week; celebrating the “Festival of Lights”, which commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. Additionally, the Kwanza celebration starts this coming Thursday, along with the Amish’s “2nd Christmas” celebration, both of which go on for days! Of course, there are others who don’t celebrate any holidays at all!

Obviously, we can’t please all. As I just said, there are others who don’t celebrate any holidays, such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses. We can’t pick them out of a crowd any more than any other person of any other faith – with the exception of if they’re wearing certain clothes that are directly associated with particular religions. Recently, I’ve seen pictures of shirts and pins on Facebook that say, “You can tell me ‘Merry Christmas!’” I guess, if it upsets you that much when someone says, “happy holidays”; then, maybe, you should invest in one of those shirts or pins and wear it every day of December.

There are many Christians and non-Christians that do not celebrate Christmas. As I mentioned, some Christian groups do not celebrate any holiday at all, as they claim that “celebrations” are pagan rituals. Additionally, there are others, Christians and non-Christians alike, who do celebrate Christmas, but not as a religious holiday. I am among the latter group who takes “part in all the holiday fun without buying into the religious aspect of it”, as discussed in another informative article, “Christian Groups that don’t Celebrate Christmas”, at TheOdysseyOnline.com.

Obviously, no one can tell, just by looking at someone, which holiday they celebrate or if they celebrate any at all. Thus, saying a generic “happy holidays” greeting covers all the bases for those who do celebrate something this season. Why do people have to be so narrow-minded and upset about it?

Mom’s mom (my Grandma Carter) was raised in the Jewish faith and converted to Christian Science when she married Mom’s dad (my Grandpa Carter.) When the holidays came around and both sides of my grandparents’ families gathered together, both holidays, Hanukkah and Christmas, were observed and celebrated in unison; without any animosity towards differences in beliefs. Instead, the focus was on the commonalities. LOVE (and food) is the universal “reason for the season” for everyone – even for those who chose not to celebrate holidays at all.

Why can’t we all just get along and respect that we are all different – with different beliefs and traditions – and, yet, the same and it’s okay! Mom wrote a story about her mom’s side of the family, the Klein’s, in her self-published book, My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop! (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, pp. 83-84). Below is an abbreviated version of Mom’s story about her mom’s Jewish family heritage, as I posted previously, in my blog entry, “It’s all Relative!”

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop!

(Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, pp. 83-84)

…my mother’s parents were originally German, but they were also Jews, and living in Russia at the turn of the [20th] century. It was dangerous for any Jew in Russia at that time – so much like the story of ‘Fiddler on the Roof’; my grandparents, with two small children and my grandmother expecting their third child, took a crowded freighter to America [around 1906]. They couldn’t speak a word of English and had nothing with them but what they could carry by hand.

On the way over, unfortunately, they came down with what suspected to be TB [Tuberculosis]… years later [around 1915], following the birth of their 7th child [my mom was their 4th child, born in 1909], TB finally took my grandmother. Having settled in Pittsburg, my grandfather moved on to Cleveland where he hoped to find relatives who would help him with a job and a place to raise the motherless children. It didn’t work out as he expected, however. The relatives were not where he had last contacted them.

The orphanage was over-crowded that he had been directed to, in order to leave the children and seek treatment for the TB that seemed to be getting worse for him. Having been turned away by the orphanage, he was about to leave all the children on a street corner, telling them that somebody would come along to help them, but that he had to get his train to the sanitorium that the government was sending him to for help. At that point, the nuns were passing by on their usual afternoon walk…on their way back to the Catholic orphanage down the street.

They stopped long enough to ask if they could be of help and, upon hearing the story from the older children, who spoke English, and [from my] Grandpa’s broken English, they concluded that the children needed to be cared for. They took the children to the Catholic orphanage, ensuring my grandfather that they would see to it that they went to Temple every Saturday, even though they would be in the Catholic schools and living in the dormitories with the other children.

When there was room for them at the Jewish orphanage, they would then be transferred – and the promise was kept. There, they all remained until each one turned 16 years of age… The compassion of those Catholic nuns and the care they gave the children of that Jewish immigrant, when Jews were hated as much as they ever were in this country, kept me from ever harboring feelings of prejudice toward other people due to their religious or racial backgrounds…

Happiness is a state of thought. It begins with gratitude for all we’ve already received and achieved – not with what we ‘own’ or the ‘things’… – Gloria Pitzer, as seen in Gloria Pitzer’s Secret RecipesTM Newsletter, Issue #218 (Secret RecipesTM, Marysville, MI; Nov. 2000, p. 5)

Consequently, like Mom, I grew up without prejudices – with an open mind to all of us being different and yet the same and that it is okay, respecting our differences. As a result, I brought my children up in the same manner – to not be prejudice and respect others’ beliefs, too.

As seen in an article, titled “How to Appreciate Diversity During the Holidays”, written by Simma Lieberman at TheBalanceCareers.com (updated April 4,2019) “Celebrating diversity and inclusiveness is about using the holiday celebration time with friends and family to build understanding and awareness of the traditions and beliefs of others.”

The following is a repeat worth repeating, from Mom’s memories, as I posted a couple of weeks ago in my blog entry, “Homemade Holidays”.

Photo by Gloria Pitzer

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Christmas Card Cook Book

(Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1983, pp. 4-5)

Breaking through the barriers of tradition, we find a spirited acceptance of new family values. Occasions have replaced celebrations. Getting together has been replaced by BEING together! Good food, comfortable conversation [and] warm hospitality have become more important to the family circle than reverence without reason, tolerance without tact, relatives without relationships!

The lovely part about Christmas for us, was always being together – with our friends, our good and dear neighbors and our relatives; in a series of activities that began with Thanksgiving and tapered off around the new year. It was hectic, but it was also many happy reunions, mixed well with spontaneous visitations that, had they been a part of the ordinary activities of the rest of the year, would not mean so much now!

The food was simple, but ample. The food, I feel, should never be more important than the guests for whom it is prepared…All of these preparations are a part of Christmas – but, not the important part. The tokens only represent the real meaning – that of loving, of letting go of old grudges, of forgetting past hurts, of looking for something good (even though you don’t see it – until you do!)

Pitzer kids, group shot – Christmas Eve, 1969

LOVE, most philosophers conclude, is the highest level of thought. It is the logic of the heart. And no other season of the calendar year seems to reflect more of this feeling…

We reach out to others – and want them, in turn, to respond to us. Some of us do it with gifts that we buy or make and some of us do it with social gestures of food and hospitality. While all of these traditions are renewed at this particular time of the year, the critics complain and the cynics look for reasons to begrudge us the pleasure of LOVING the season, renewing the fellowship of it – with family, friends and neighbors.

But that’s not unusual and we shouldn’t be surprised by the criticisms that try to take some of the joy out of the holiday traditions we follow – or create for ourselves. There are always critics, unfortunately, for those occasions in our lives when we wish to be glad about something…

So, on with the celebration – whether we choose to keep it quietly in our own personal fashion of religious customs, or whether we choose to make it festive and pronounced with the traditions of gifts and food. The point is, we are celebrating the season of hope… It’s a time for LOVING – for expressing it [and] for offering it to others! How can something like that not be good!

Our own traditions have not been very elaborate in our family, during the…season; but, the things we have always done to make the holiday more enjoyable, brought us pleasure. So, we have continued with them. Whether you choose to follow traditions or to create some of your own, the underlying meaning is still there to express joy and LOVE – that incredible, curious logic of the heart!

The legend of Santa Claus has been around, in many forms, since as early as the 4th century. Every year, for centuries, American society has promoted the story of Santa Claus! I have found that many Christians who believe the “reason for the season” is to celebrate the birth of Christ also bring up their children to believe in the story of Santa Claus. Many theologists debate if December 25th is even Christ’s true birthday.

To me, the selfless “Santa-Like” giving is the “reason for the season.” As Mom often said, “Let there be peace on Earth and let it begin with me.” For whatever your reason to celebrate the season, if you do so, just be you and respect that we, all, are not just like you! Rejoice in your family and friends and neighbors and co-workers, as well as the strangers you have yet to meet. Peace, love and joy to you all!

IN CLOSING…

Today is the eve of Christmas Eve – for those who celebrate Christmas – time to wrap up the baking, candy-making and last minute gifts. These little treats are quick and great to have around, during the holidays, to offer guests who drop by…

P.S. Food-for-thought until we meet again, next Monday…

Did you know…

…“When did Christians begin to celebrate Christmas?” – Check out the answer at http://www.hcna.us/columns/history-of-christmas.htm!

…“President Ulysses S. Grant declared Christmas a legal holiday in 1870.” – Check out the story at https://www.americanfreedombybarbara.com/2013/12/congress-declared-christmas-to-be-legal.html!

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective is available for sale, at $20.99 each, through the publisher, Balboa Press, at https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062252.  It’s also available, instantly, in eBook form, for $3.99, at https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253. Great for last minute gifts – literally!

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