Slowly and scarily, the holiday season is descending upon us, evidenced by wrapping paper, snowflakes and Christmas lights covering dorm doors and the various cafes serving eggnog, peppermint and pumpkin inspired drinks. We are starting to scrounge for cash for gifts and are forced to put up with the same awful Christmas carols we have heard year after year for our entire lives. Anyone not in college seems to be getting cheerier (though who can blame us during Dead Week?) in a way that would be creepy any other time of year. Strangers are going out of their way to wish me a "Merry Christmas!" or a "Happy Holidays!"
Which got me thinking... which one is better?
I was raised saying "Merry Christmas," but then, I was also raised saying things like snaps, bomb and psych. Needless to say, the'90s is the one era that was so awful it will probably - hopefully for those of us who look back at it with a mix of nostalgia and horror - never come back, which is why we should leave "Merry Christmas" behind with the rest of the decade.
Saying "Happy Holidays" is not only politically correct, it is also the more accurate statement.
Think about it. Christmas may be the biggest of the seasonal holidays, mostly thanks to commercialism and the pressure to buy really fantastic gifts regardless of your religious standing, but it is not the only one celebrated.
There is New Year's Eve, wherein all the leftover food from Christmas is cleverly transformed into finger foods for snackage during the long wait to midnight.
Also Hanukkah, the festival of lights where lucky Jewish people get eight days of gifts, play with candles and festive tops and eat delicious potato pancakes.
Then there is Kwanzaa with more candles, another extended celebration - six days this time - and enough food to feed a small army on the feast days.
And then there is Festivus for the rest of us. For those of you who did not just Wikipedia the American-born holiday made popular by Seinfeld, it is the celebration of loved ones and the holiday season without all the commercialism thrown into the mix.
There are some people who will stick to their guns when it comes to their chosen holiday, choosing to represent their own beliefs rather than submit to the politically correct version - even in Washington where we tend to like politically correct. There are few things more terrifying than the passive aggressive well-wishing from a stranger, like the long-distance relatives that you met as a kid and are expected to remember or certain strange looking dishes on the table during the various feasts. Shopping anywhere on Dec. 24 can be a death wish, and do not get me started on traveling.
I would like to wish you luck in navigating the hazards of the holiday season, especially in avoiding the freshman 15 that may or may not finally catch up with you after your third serving of pie. I know I, for one, am going to need the extra luck. And while many "witty" columnists will probably leave you with a warning about yellow snow, I think it is about time to retire that old cliché and simply wish you a Happy Holidays.