I try to avoid the hot-button issues like religion and politics here. But today being the beginning of Hanukkah, I got to thinking about the whole matter of saying “Merry Christmas” to folks who may or may not celebrate Christmas. It’s a religious matter but somehow we’ve managed to make it political in America.
- Should you say “Merry Christmas” anyway because it is, in fact, nearly Christmas and it’s simply a nice thing to wish someone well?
- Should you be well versed in the many different celebrations observed by folks of many different traditions this time of year?
- Should you say “Happy Holidays”?
I think I had a breakthrough that could aid in understanding why some find it most appropriate to say “Happy Holidays” during this time of year, rather than “Merry Christmas” or any other holiday-specific greeting. It had to do with assembly-required furniture. Having assembled more than a few desks, shelving units, tables, etc., out of a box, I’ve seen a few sets of directions which included something like this:
With your left hand, hold section B upright, while with your right hand, tighten bolt 18c.
I really do see it a lot wherever a dexterous task is being described. Do you see what they did there? Granted, about 90% of the population is of the right-handed persuasion according to the most recent…wherever we get statistics of that type. But the based-on-a-true-story set of instructions above kind of makes that decision for the assembler. Being of the left-handed persuasion myself, I can categorically tell you that is not how I would install bolt 18c.
Hence I can conclude that these instructions are not for me. They describe a world which is foreign to me.
I suppose that is fine, because the instructions will hit their mark for nine out of ten assemblers, and I can improvise. But if it said something like “with your non-dominant hand, hold section B upright, while with your dominant hand, tighten bolt 18c” it would be less presumptuous. Maybe “non-dominant hand” seems a bit technical, but something like that.
It would be the “Happy Holidays” of furniture assembly instructions.
Merry Christmas. Happy Hanukkah. Shubh Vaikuntha Ekadashi. Happy Holidays.
…and for those of you of the Christmas persuasion, may you have a stress-free assembly of all of the things on Christmas morning!