Mele Kalikimaka

December 13, 2010

krismasee Mele KalikimakaPeople are very surprised when I wish them a Merry Christmas instead of Happy Holidays every time this year.

They get confused.

“You’re not Catholic, are you?” they ask.

“But, you still celebrate Christmas?”

As they continue looking at me nonplussed, I go into details of how we would go for the mass at midnight in India and cheer Santa as he paraded through the streets on his chariot handing out candy and balloons to little kids along the way.

Since I went to what was considered a convent school, I sang hymns and in December we’d always start our mornings with “Silent night, holy night…” It felt nice. Those songs had such a different lilt to them than anything I heard at home.

We had Christian friends with whom we’d celebrate the joy of Christmas by drinking homemade Ginger ale, eating gingerbread cookies, and relishing fireplace chats while admiring the ornament-laden Christmas tree.

Christmas was a special time, just like Diwali.

And those are the memories I harken when I sip my short, extra hot gingerbread latte (available for a limited time at your local Starbucks).

Christmas for me is not a religious celebration.

It’s just a beautiful time when people are in happy spirits and feel more charitable than usual.

I understand that people are trying to be politically correct and they don’t want to offend anyone — especially those whose cultural background and religious beliefs they are unaware of.

To those who get offended, I say: those people wishing you a Merry Christmas aren’t trying to convert you … they’re merely saying what they know. It’s their way of sharing the celebration. They’re not doing it out of malice or to make you feel alienated. They’re just being nice.

To those who want to be sensitive (and are unsure) about how to wish others (non-Christians, or atheists, or people from foreign lands) this time of the year, I say: Stop overthinking it!

I loved 30 Rock’s take on this whole Christmas-Happy Holidays-Season’s Greetings thing last week. Have a look see.

And wish you all a Merry Christmas!

16081BD1A60533E0F1173D28DE4F0D3F Mele Kalikimaka

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7 Responses to Mele Kalikimaka

  1. DaveNo Gravatar on December 13, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    Great post, Mansi! I heartily agree.

    It’s funny. I was talking to a Muslim woman in our office, from a family that’s been in Canada for quite a while (her husband’s side since the 1920s, I think, and hers since the 50s or so).

    She said they celebrate Christmas, complete with the tree and everything. It’s a completely cultural and secular holiday for them. While she’s not that into it personally, she does it for her family, because they celebrate it. I think it originally started with them wanting to fit into the society of their new country (something that doesn’t happen as much anymore, sadly) and it’s progressed to this day.

    I think they would share your sentiments totally.

    • MansiNo Gravatar on December 16, 2010 at 2:03 pm

      Thanks, Dave. Good to see your name pop up in my comments section again.
      Some of my former colleagues, knowing that I celebrated Diwali and it was a big deal for me, would take me out for lunch that day. It made me feel special. They didn’t have to do it, but they did. Similarly, when I wish someone a Merry Christmas or say to them your eggnog is on me, it’s my way of sharing in their joy. All these festivals, no matter what the religious underpinnings, are but one thing: a celebration of life and of humanity. Thanks, again, for stopping by and sharing this story.

  2. Ian ClarkNo Gravatar on December 13, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    I am a “Bah Humborg” person

    • Ian ClarkNo Gravatar on December 13, 2010 at 3:50 pm

      simply because of the commercialism.

      • MansiNo Gravatar on December 16, 2010 at 2:01 pm

        I’m with you on the commercialism part, Ian. But that’s true for every celebration — even birthdays. I think what matters at the end of the day is enjoying some leisure time with the people you love and celebrating life.

  3. GlenNo Gravatar on December 14, 2010 at 9:57 am

    Absolutely. There are many religious festivals out there, why wouldn’t you wish someone enjoy it – whatever it might be? And as for celebrating Christmas – you are right, it is, nowadays, as much about spending some quality time with friends and family and spreading some good feelings as is it about religion. Enjoy it I say – whoever you may believe in :-)

    • MansiNo Gravatar on December 16, 2010 at 1:59 pm

      Thanks, Glen. I see more and more of that happening in urban America — especially in the South Bay where even though Caucasians are still a majority, there is such a great sense of inclusion that one can be celebrating different festivities all throughout the year.


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