As the holiday season is rounding out, we can’t help but notice the alarming dissatisfaction when someone simply says “Happy Holidays.” We honestly thought this trampling hostility ended years ago, but, alas, here we are at the brink of an entirely new decade, spreading a message of cheer and getting pushback in return.
Throughout this season, either at the checkout line, a drive thru or hopping out of an Uber on the way to a holiday party, uttering the words “Happy Holidays” is almost greeted with disgust.
Well...that’s not okay.
Let us be clear, no one is trying to take Christmas away or kick your holidays off the calendar, there are just a lot of different ways to celebrate at this time of year and that...is okay.
You see, as humans, we’re extremely protective over our traditions. We’re deeply rooted and sound in the ways we celebrate our holidays. Now, that’s perfectly fine, but having your own holiday foundations and being inclusive of others never killed anyone. There are nearly 8 billion people on this planet (don’t get us started on climate change), and there’s no way each of us could possibly celebrate the same holidays (could you imagine the lines at Target?!).
So, we want to take this opportunity to encourage everyone to drive inclusion forward this coming year by being...well, inclusive.
With that all said, let’s talk about a little bit about the holidays and some things you can do to celebrate everyone no matter what your own beliefs and traditions may be.
Just say “Happy Holidays”
Of course we’re going to begin with ole faithful. This phrase is quite possible the most perfect parting message at this time of year, because unless you personally know every stranger you meet, there’s a chance their joyous celebrations are different from yours. We know...shocking.
Needless to say, or rather not so needless, when you respond with a forced “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Hanukkah” you make an assumption and push your beliefs and traditions down the throat of the person on the receiving end.
Why not just keep it simple and make sure that no matter what your counterpart is celebrating that you wish them joy as they venture off for quality time with family and friends. Should someone direct a “Happy Holidays” your way, the response it almost too simple:
“Hey, thanks! Happy Holidays to you too!”
There’s no need for hostile response, formal explanations, or religious offense, just a basic thanks and a cheerful smile will do just fine. From there you can both be on your way and more inclusive than you ever imagined.
Incorporate other holidays or cultures into your own
It never hurts to try. Take a scroll through Google and find some ways to appreciate the other holidays that surround your own. Perhaps you’d like to introduce your family or friends to something new this year, rather than the same boring casserole you serve up each year. Every culture and holiday has its own list of standard traditions, fan-favorite foods, songs, and decorations. From trying to incorporate some of those things into your own festivities, you’ll officially become the D&I pro amongst your circles.
Here are some great traditions we’d recommend you try at the last minute this year:
- Dreidel Game
- A traditional Jewish game surrounding Hanukkah, the dreidel game is an easy thing to incorporate to any holiday festivity. The rules are simple, see for yourself.
- Leave some cookies out for Santa
- Santa and his reindeers spend the entire night delivering toys to all the children of the world. This lighthearted Christmas tradition is one that will surely have your kids in awe.
- Drive around and look at holiday decorations
- One way of getting to know your neighbors and perhaps something about their culture is to observe how they decorate. What colors are present? What symbols or iconography?
- Serve some Mazao foods
- Bananas, Mangos, nuts, and other fruits. Try spicing up things on the holiday menu with some new foods that will make your guests “ooh and aah” at your inclusive tastes.
- Display some Muhindi
- Ears of corn to represent fertility and the hopes of future family
Sing new songs
You don’t have to go Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree the same way every year. Try jazzing up the festivities with a song or two from a holiday close to yours. Sure, you may not understand everything the first year around, but making this a new tradition will encourage your family and friends to brush up on their inclusive practices at the end of each year. We’d say that’s a gift that keeps on giving.
Here are some crowd favorites to give a whirl this season:
- Michelle Citrin’s “Left to Right” - Hanukkah
- Bunny Hull’s “Happy Happy Kwanzaa” - Kwanzaa
- Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song” - Christmas
Obviously, the list goes on and on, but these should get your holiday into quite the festive mood. Give these three a shot and create your very own inclusive holiday playlist.
Write letters or Volunteer
There’s no better feeling around the holidays than that of giving back. Volunteering your time or thought is a great way to connect with other cultures and introduce yourself to a world of inclusion you’ve never experienced.
Opening your world to that of others is one of the best things you can do at this time of year. Maintaining that openness and searching for ways to engage in an atmosphere different from your own is a valuable practice sure to serve you well year after year.
In conclusion, the holidays are simple and there’s no need to complicate them with forced views and radical stances. The best gift to share this time of year is inclusion. We encourage all our friends to practice the holidays this year with openness, fairness and pure joy.
After all that, there’s only one thing left to say..."Happy Holidays!"