I should preface this by saying that I celebrate Christmas. Though I am Catholic by birth, my husband's family was Jewish, and we are now both UU by choice, we go to our fellowship's Christmas services, put up a tree, and track Santa via NORAD.
But I've felt particularly shell-shocked this year by the "war on Christmas" on both sides of the fence. You've got the "keep Christ in Christmas" people who shout back -- in an annoyed tone of voice -- "Merry CHRISTmas" to the waving antlered Girl Scouts who are wishing people "Happy Holidays" from the float in our holiday parade. And then you've got people who get all offended when random strangers wish them a "Merry Christmas" because, well, it's not their holiday, and one shouldn't assume.
I find the "war on Christmas" especially ironic because, after all, it's a holiday that is supposed to celebrate peace. And joy. Now, I know that Hanukkah and Christmas and Yule and Kwanzaa are fundamentally different kinds of holidays, celebrated in very different ways. I realize that Christmas dominates the store decorations and sale advertisements for months leading up to the day, and the other holidays barely get any billing. As someone who dated Jewish men serially during college and graduate school, I got first hand exposure to the frustration with the Christmas takeover, and it was useful perspective.
BUT: when most people wish others a "Merry Christmas," I feel like it has much more to do with good will towards other human beings than it does to do with Christ. It's like someone wishing you a good day, only in a different language. AND: when someone wishes me Happy Holidays, I appreciate that they understand that everyone has different traditions. I don't get offended either way.
A friend of mine recently shared with me a link to a page about the celebration of HumanLight on December 23. It's a movement/holiday founded in 2001 to celebrate the ideals of reason, compassion and hope--to be a positive expression of humanist values. Though it originated among atheists, skeptics, agnostics, and other people not affiliated with a faith community, there's a lot to be said for the common ground it shares with religious holidays during December. Isn't it time we put down the word-weapons and stop second-guessing expressions of compassion and hope?
Join me for an egg nog cookie, and tell me: which side of the holiday fence do you come down on, if at all? How do you feel when people wish you Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas? How do you wish people joy at this time of year?
Iced Egg Nog Cookies
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter, slightly softened
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup egg nog
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons egg nog
ground nutmeg (for garnish)
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Mix flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a bowl and set aside. In another mixing bowl, mix sugar and butter together. Add egg yolks and vanilla to the mixture and beat until smooth. Finally, add egg nog and mix on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Slowly add flour mixture into egg nog/sugar mixture until completely combined, but be careful not to over-mix.
Drop spoonfuls of dough onto a prepared cookie sheet and bake for 20-22 minutes. Remove immediately to a cooling rack.
For icing, whisk powdered sugar and egg nog together. Add more sugar or egg nog, depending on the consistency you prefer. (I like a “barely thick” icing for these cookies.)