‘Happy Holidays’ is just good manners…

I served a Muslim woman and her daughter at work today. They come in a lot so we know them well – the daughter’s kids are always gutted that our gummy sweets aren’t halal… But we just got new vegan ones so I let them know and they were so excited. It was such a Christmas moment. I felt like an elf.

Anyway they bought all the flavours because they’ve never eaten them before and I said ‘Happy Holidays’.
The mum – well, grandma – said ‘Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to you and your family’ and then, since I’d mentioned that the sweets are also kosher now, her daughter said ‘ooh, Happy Hanukkah’ and it all spiralled into happy this, happy that.

It was absolutely lovely.
We pick what we celebrate but surely we can all be happy that we’re all trying to feel joyful at this time of year – and do our best to make others’ lives a little bit more merry and bright.

This really is ‘the holiday season’. Divali kicked off on the 27th of October and, since then, it’s been celebrations all autumn. Now they run into the deep midwinter – when they’re often most needed. The Winter Solstice is a millennia old tradition that I love because it brings light with it.

All over the world people celebrate different days – like Divali, Halloween, Bonfire Night, Las Posadas, Winter Solstice, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, New Year, Epiphany… and then it’s only a hop, skip and a jump to Chinese New Year.

I don’t know what everyone celebrates. My family observes a mish mash so we’ll echo your greetings, use our own or accommodate everyone with a jolly sounding Happy Holidays!

Whatever you believe, observe and / or celebrate, we hope you and your family are well this year – and for many many more.

It’s not long now until the 25th of January – when the Year of the Rat starts.

After that it’s the silly season for celebrations. Valentine’s Day, Pancake Day – a really big deal where I come from so I just can’t get excited – then the interminable passage of lent (Ffs, at the back end of winter – really?) until, finally, we get some actual sunshine and my favourite holidays – Passover and Easter.

You can always win me over with pastel colours and sweet treats. And lamb. And the entire family agreeing on a meal for once. With a positive response.

Making everyone feel included isn’t being politically correct particularly. It’s being kind and welcoming. It’s engaging with friends, family and neighbours. It’s embracing the true spirit of Christmas – on whatever level you believe.

It’s following the example of an Inn keeper if you like the gospels. For those less tied to the tomes, it’s just bringing the gifts that we all really want and need – not gold, frankincense and myrrh – but simple recognition and acceptance.

Just remember that Santa’s sleigh is pulled by magical reindeer – and those reindeer get their magic from Christmas spirit… Christmas spirit that comes from all of us ‘living’ the true meaning of the holiday – by exhibiting compassion, generosity and faith in our fellow men.

We don’t want another Elf type situation – where Santa’s left at the mercy of the Central Park Rangers on Christmas Eve. That would never do.