It’s Christmas Eve. And the last night of Hanukkah. Merry Christmas and Gut Yontiff. Color me nostalgic, but this time of year always gets me thinking about love and my fellow man (or woman or child). I was talking with a Jewish friend of mine yesterday and at first, since she’s a newer friend, I was being tentative with my holiday salutation. I wasn’t sure what her beliefs were and I didn’t want to offend her. Which led to an awesome discussion. Her family is by birth Jewish. But they also celebrate Christmas because, in her words, “Taking a cue from my mom, if there was a party, we wanted to be a part of it,” so they also have a Christmas tree and exchange gifts.
I used to feel that my Jewish friends that celebrated Christmas were being. . . . sacrilegious is too strong a word. . . . but not honoring the Christian faith is more along the lines of my thought process. Until this year. I heard Ben Stein in a clip recently (he happens to be Jewish) questioning why we all have to be so careful. As a Jew, he doesn’t mind it when someone tells him Merry Christmas. In his view, they are celebrating the birth of Jesus and even if it’s not his savior, he recognizes him as a great man.
It got me to thinking. Why can’t we all celebrate that which is about the other To put it another way, why can’t my friends tell me Happy Hanukkah and I celebrate their celebration of Hanukkah by saying it back to them? It doesn’t take away anything from my Christian beliefs to honor that about them. Nor would it take anything away from their Jewish beliefs to reply Merry Christmas to me. The same for my Muslim friends and any other religious (or lack there of) beliefs. Why can’t we all honor and celebrate our friends and what they believe, even if we don’t share in the belief? And that’s basically the conversation my friend and I had yesterday. So we wished each other both Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas as I left. And it made me smile.
After all, I’m pretty sure the premise of all major religions (not the extremist versions) is inclusion, acceptance and love. Of all. What a world it would be if we could all start from that place of love and acceptance? I’m going to make that a 2015 mantra. And I invite you to join me. As one person, it’s hard to affect change. But one person’s example leads to two, leads to three and so on. So, come join me and let’s change the world.
Thank you for your friendship and following. Merry Christmas to you and yours. And to all a good night.