Last month, I took a look at how much fun Thanksgiving is. Now, Christmas is upon us. I’m writing this on the first night of Hanukkah, I work for a Jewish man, I’m engaged to a Jewish woman, and no one said Happy Hanukkah today! I guess that means Christmas rules in America! I’m not going to complain about how everyone is being forced to say “Happy Holidays,” I’ll just assume they’re trying to be inclusive and trying to find the least offensive way to say “Merry Christmas.” Or it could be that the person wishing you Happy Holidays could be an atheist or practice something other than the Christian religion. No one has the guts to ask!
One quick look at Religious Tolerance.com and you’ll see the Christianity majority in America is actually a minority around the globe. This made me curious, so I went to SelectSmart.com and took the quiz to help me see which religion matches my belief system. The results were interesting to say the least. The percentage next to each religion below is the percentage that my answers match the religion. I’ll show only my top 10:
1. Unitarian Universalism (100%)
2. Mainline – Liberal Christian Protestants (89%)
3. Reform Judaism (89%)
4. Liberal Quakers – Religious Society of Friends (88%)
5. Theravada Buddhism (86%)
6. Mahayana Buddhism (84%)
7. New Thought (80%)
8. New Age (79%)
9. Secular Humanism (77%)
10. Taoism (77%)
There really is a very small difference between the ideology of a Unitarian Universalist and a Protestant; between a Quaker and a Buddhist; or between a Buddhist and a Taoist. There is almost no difference in my answers between the ideology of Liberal Christian Protestants and Reform Judaism. This is not to say that I practice any of these religions – I’m just pointing out the similarities between people who do practice their religion while ignoring the existence of all other religions.
Wars have been fought for centuries over religious differences. Catholics had the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition (no one expects the Spanish Inquisition!), the 30 Years War, and the Northern Irish Conflict among many others. Islam has their Jihads. Palestine and Israel have fought a religious and ethnic war forever. The Civil Wars in Iraq and throughout the Middle East are religious wars. Even the Buddhists have had an uprising!
Deep down, we are all the same. We want to explore the philosophy of our beliefs and find people who share those beliefs. I urge you to take the quiz I took and see how close your beliefs are to people with whom you come into contact . Christians should be able to celebrate Christmas. Jews should be able celebrate Hanukah. Costanzas should be able to celebrate Festivus. All of us should be able to celebrate whatever our chosen group wishes to celebrate. You and I are not that different. You and the cashier at Target are not that different. When they wish you “Happy Holidays,” just smile and say, “Merry Christmahanukkah!”
It’s officially “Holiday Season.” For me, that means many things, none of which are normal! First, we have Thanksgiving. For you, that means a day off filled with family you may or may not like. If you’re the host of this gathering, you have to get up early to get ready. Then, you get to clean it all up and fall into bed wishing you had spent the day at work! For me, it means a day off that begins with a 10K and ends quietly at home with the woman I love. In between, it’s filled with football, naps, and Facebook.
I have had Thanksgivings filled with family. As a child, we had to have a “kids table” for our own family! We didn’t need to invite extended family to fill the house. I liked helping Mom make the stuffing because it involved tearing up stale bread. As an adult, I found a recipe for White Castle Stuffing, so I had to make that! It was awesome! When I clean and prep the turkey, it comes to life as I thrust my hand into the cavity and make him dance. I never understood why the include the neck, but it was always a source of “R Rated” fun. Carving the turkey starts with such precision and ends with a plate of shredded meat yanked off the bone. Patience is not my strong suit.
The Thanksgiving conversations remind me of a first date. They’re always so polite and safe and no one really says anything. You haven’t seen some of these people since last Thanksgiving! If they’re on Facebook, they should know what the hell you’ve been up to so why do they always start with, “so what’s new with you?” Some families have the drunken uncle at the table who will say just about anything. Sometimes, I’m that uncle!
The first year after my divorce, my brother Carl invited me to his house for Thanksgiving. I went and had a nice meal, but it was awkward and uncomfortable. I don’t meant to offend him, I just felt like I was an intruder and not a guest. Every year after that, I was either happily alone or in someone’s house trying to find a comfortable chair. You can’t do a seat check in an away game!
I won’t even mention how much I hate using the away bathroom! (I guess I just did.) First there’s the lock that I’m never sure if it actually locks the door. Then, I have to turn on the fan to drown out the god awful noise that I’m about to unleash! Time to wash my hands. What the hell kind of soap is this? I just want clean hands – I don’t want to smell like a tropical rain forest! We top it all off by trying to figure out which towel I’m supposed to use. I’d almost rather be using the gas station’s bathroom at this point!
My current tradition with my sons is to take them out for pizza on Friday. We get to hang out and I don’t have to clean up. If I do decide to host another Thanksgiving, it’s going to include drinking games and Survivor style competitions where one family member after another gets eliminated from my house. I’ll leave the Feats of Strength for Festivus.