The Electric Commentary

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Meaningless Symbolism

One of the things that bugs me is the amount of time that people waste on symbolism. It is difficult to peruse the blogosphere without encountering the "War on Christmas." The "War on Christmas," as I understand it, is mainly being waged by people who choose to say "happy holidays" instead of Merry Christmas. Now, ever since Bill O'Reilly saved Christmas I figured that this issue would go away, and of course, I thought that when religious folks realized that the word "holiday" actually means "holy day," and is in fact quite religious, that they would be happy to think that they were pulling a fast one on everyone and stop complaining.

This has not happened. Instead, certain groups are going to boycott businesses using the "happy holiday" greeting. Others are proving that the politics of victimhood are alive and well. Wisconsin has been very concerned with labeling their trees. For the life of me, I cannot understand the point of this.

The fact of the matter is that all holiday greetings are positive (unless you wish someone a happy holiday and they snarkily fire back a "Merry Christmas," as I experienced last year). They are intended to wish you good luck, good tidings, and a friendly, restful, peaceful holiday time. If you take offense to well-wishing, you have a problem. There are probably atheists out there who react with horror to "Merry Christmas." These people also have a problem.

You are in charge of celebrating your own holiday, and no one else is under any obligation to celebrate in the same manner. If you want to say "Merry Christmas," go right ahead. If you wish to call the big tree in the Capitol rotunda a "Christmas Tree," feel free. "Holiday tree?" Sure, why not? I've decided to call it "Phil" myself. It just looked like a "Phil" to me.

So stop wasting time trying to get people to say things that they do not wish to say simply because you want to hear them. Besides, you don't want to end up like Elaine at Poppie's Restaurant:

ELAINE: Boy, I'm really looking forward to this duck. I've never had food ordered in advance before.

JERRY: Ah, I could've stayed home and ordered a pizza from Paccino's.

ELAINE: Paccino's? Oh no. You should never order pizza from Paccino's.

JERRY: Why not?

ELAINE: Because, the owner contributes a lot of money to those fanatical, anti-abortion groups.

JERRY: So, you won't eat the pizza?

ELAINE: No way.

JERRY: Really.

ELAINE: Yeah.

JERRY: Well, what if Poppie felt the same way?

ELAINE: Well, I guess I wouldn't eat here, then.

JERRY: Really!

ELAINE: Yeah. That's right.

JERRY: Well, perhaps we should inquire. Poppie! Oh, Poppie. Could I have a word?

POPPIE: Yes, Jerry. I just checked your duck...it is more succulent than even I had hoped.

JERRY: Poppie, I was just curious...where do you stand on the abortion issue?

POPPIE: When my mother was abducted by the Communists, she was with child...

JERRY: Oh, boy.

POPPIE: ...but the Communists, they put an end to that! So, on this issue there is no debate! And no intelligent person can think differently.

ELAINE (offended): Well...Poppie. I think differently.

POPPIE: And what gives you the right to do that?

ELAINE (standing up): The Supreme Court gives me the right to do that! Let's go Jerry, c'mon.


So, I'd like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, a Kwazy Kwanza, a tip-top Tet, and a solemn, dignified Ramadan.

Or a "Happy Holidays."

Whatever.

8 Comments:

  • Well said.

    By Blogger DannyNoonan, at 12:25 PM  

  • Happy New Year !

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:20 PM  

  • Happy New Year to you as well.

    By Blogger PaulNoonan, at 3:45 PM  

  • I think the thing that's making many people crazy is big retailers profiting hugely from Christmas, but prohibiting their employees from saying "Merry Christmas" even in reponse to someone saying it to them.

    I'm not even religous, but that's made me crazy for years.

    By Anonymous Elliot, at 11:29 PM  

  • Merry Christmahannawanzaa to you, as well.

    Don't make the mistake of thinking that people spend their time on symbolism. Some don't have much more than sybolism to start with.

    By Blogger grumps, at 5:07 AM  

  • Elliot, that's a good point. Part of me (the idealistic part) thinks that it is stupid to have a corporate policy against saying Merry Christmas, however, the pragmatic side of me keeps telling me that it is a good idea to have some guidelines on what employees are going to say to people. Especially if people are going to be hypersensitive about it.

    But if a customer says "Merry Christmas" it's ridiculous to not say "Merry Christmas" back. The customer, after all, is always right.

    Grumps, jsut because you start with nothing doesn't mean you have to remain nothing's best friend. And I picked mostly on uppity religious folks here, but I could just have easily have referred to hippies out protesting "The Gap." At some point you should buckle down and try to save up enough cash to buy The Gap. Then you can do whatver you want with it.

    Don't get me wrong, if you're a poor person and derive some strength from some symbolistic source, and you use that inspiration to improve yourself, more power to you. However, if you make the symbol of inspiration your raison d'etre , you're wasting your time and your talents.

    Besides, the subject of this post, in my experience, deals mainly with the already affluent.

    By Blogger PaulNoonan, at 9:17 AM  

  • You know, I was just going to say that Poppie is one of my favorite recurring Seinfeld characters (the pee-stained couch played a crucial role in the show, as it forced Frank Costanza back into Estelle's bed), but then it dawned on me that Poppie really isn't one of my favorite recurring characters. I started thinking about it and there are quite a few I like better, not even counting the big ones like Newman and George's parents and Jerry's parents:

    Jack Clompus
    Mickey
    Babu
    Marla
    Joe Mayo
    Sue Ellen Mishke
    Bania
    Tim Whatley
    Lloyd Braun
    Sally Weaver
    Bob Sacamano (OK, he's never actually on the show, but I always enjoy it when Kramer mentions him.)

    Anyway, I guess my point is that any show that has so many great recurring chracters that Poppie doesn't make my Top 10 has to be the best show in television history.

    By Blogger MDS, at 10:39 AM  

  • I love the Drake. Big fan of the Maestro too, if for no other reason than he is not only the Maestro, but also Neidermeyer from Animal House, and he owns a restaurant in Milwaukee where he can be found on a fairly regular basis.

    By Blogger PaulNoonan, at 10:55 AM  

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