Tuesday, December 28, 2021



This week is “Happy Holidays” greeting time. Everywhere I go, this is part of casual exchanges.

    Regardless of which holidays, these words cover all. But do they?

    Seems like an obligation to be happy. With such an obligation, comes guilt if we can’t.

There are lots of reasons to encourage gratefulness, wish better health, and let others know you value them. I’m less sure about happiness; that thing we so casually spew out as a wish or even half a command. I’m actually not sure what it is.


My mulling is much less about whether it’s okay to say Merry Christmas to people who may not be Christians (its fine with me, but this is no longer a universally accepted notion) than about feeling I wish I had something else I could put out to casual passersby.


There is the “stay safe” I’ve had my fill of hearing. One friend replaced that with “stay sane,” which I like much more. I almost want to substitute STAY SANE for the happy holidays utterances, except...

©Kristen Feighery

...except that doing so with strangers will likely be taken as a sign of insanity.

But you here know what I mean. Stay sane, everybody. Happiness is a blessing but not an obligation. 


We are: Clamco said...

"Seems like an obligation to be happy. With such an obligation, comes guilt if we can’t."
Yes! And the obligation that's put upon women to make everything perfect when the spirit just isn't there. It's so difficult.

Barbara Etlin said...

I take the wish for "Happy Holidays" in the same ecumenical, well-meaning, non-offensive way you take the wish for "Merry Christmas."

I'm mostly* not offended by MC. I know that the person is being polite and trying to spread their own holiday cheer. If I'm miserable at this time of year and they don't know about it, it's not their fault, and I don't take offense.

*With the exception of a couple who knows perfectly well that we are Jewish, has made anti-Semitic comments to us and lost our friendship because of it, and yet continues to send us their Christmas newsletter every year.

Vijaya said...

For our Christmas, our pastor had a lovely homily about the difficult year many people have experienced and some remedies to stay sane. Hmmm, I should post the link.

My mother had a book, Happiness is a Habit, and I believe it's true. One can choose joy. Granted I use the terms interchangeably even though joy wells up from within whereas happiness comes from something external. But you get my meaning.

Evelyn said...

Most of the time, I prefer to say I hope you have a blessed holiday or a blessed Christmas, since, as you say, I know a lot of people are struggling and dealing with difficult times and 'Merry' or 'Happy' just isn't what they can deal with right now.

As you know, I do share my Christmas cards with some friends who aren't Christians. I respect their beliefs, but am sharing what the season means to me. If they prefer that I not include them in my mailing, I hope they'll let me know and I'm glad to stop.

Mirka Breen said...

I *LOVE* your artistic handmade cards, Evelyn. I also like being included :)

MirkaK said...

I don't remember who said it, but it was a statement that stayed with me. While I don't recall the exact words, the gist is that questing after happiness is not useful. Nor is it something we can grasp and possess, like a material object. Rather, it's a byproduct of being fully engaged with life--the ups and downs and all arounds of it. For me, joy has more meaning than the word "happy," maybe because the latter has been so overdone as to seem Disneylike. A look at the etymology of happy informed me that "hap" is chance or fortune. So, if we're fortunate in the work we do, the people we are with, the place where we live, and so on, then perhaps the result is happiness, though not necessarily 24/7.

Sue said...

I love your comment that talks about happiness being a product!