WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Oh this vexatious season is almost over. How to greet my fellows Americans amid statues of Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Rangifer tarandus? Merry Christmas? Happy Hanukkah? Something about Kwanzaa? Happy Holiday? Have a Good One? There are so many choices and so many possibilities of giving offense. Loath as I am to give offense (unintentionally!) I have been avoiding the whole subject.
Then along came Charles Krauthammer, who is surely the most sensible pundit in the land, as well as one of the best informed and most agreeable -- though the burden of good sense often places on him the burden of saying disagreeable things. At least the things he says often are disagreeable to the benighted.
Krauthammer has informed us in his column that it is acceptable to greet the majority of Americans with a cheerful, "Merry Christmas." Well, I am relieved. Next year I may screw my courage to the sticking point and offer "Merry Christmas" to all.
Though to my Jewish friends I would like to offer "Happy Hanukkah." And to my atheist and agnostic friends, "Have a Good One." Actually, I guess I could offer that last greeting to the guy down at the end of the bar whatever his faith, or should I say his/her faith?
This great controversy brings to mind a favored insight of mine. Society divides between the intelligent and the unintelligent, the gifted and the ungifted, but the most significant divide resides between the agreeable and the disagreeable. The disagreeable are forever out there disturbing the peace and claiming they do it for high moral purpose. Sometimes they do, but not always -- and they often make social contact social conflict for no good reason.
Krauthammer is, as I say, on the side of the agreeable. His pronouncement on this vexed holiday is worth quoting at length not only for what he says about the holiday, but also for what he says about this good country of ours:
"The United States today is the most tolerant and diverse society in history. It celebrates all faiths with an open heart and open-mindedness that, compared to even the most advanced countries in Europe, are unique."
He points out that 80 percent of Americans are Christians, and 95 percent observe Christmas in some way. This does not alarm him. He, being Jewish, has used the holiday to fill in for Christian co-workers who are not at work. His co-workers have reciprocated for him on Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashana and another of his "major holidays," Opening Day at Fenway.
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