On ‘happy holidays’.

It’s that time of year again, the end of fall and beginning of winter, and the time of year where there’s Christmas music on in the stores that was on before Halloween let alone before Thanksgiving. The time of year where people make a fuss about the design on Starbucks holiday cups, since that seems to be becoming a pattern too.

Out of all the things in this time of year that piss me off, it’s when people get their panties in a knot over the phrase “Happy Holidays”, insisting that people say “Merry Christmas”.

There are a lot of holidays in December, and Christmas is only one of them. By and large: there is no way to know by looking at a person what holidays they celebrate.

“But what if they’re wearing a cross necklace?”

“But I don’t want to say Merry Christmas, I don’t even celebrate it!”

Sure, there’s a good enough chance of figuring out what holiday someone might celebrate if they are wearing a symbol of their faith. However, it’s still not a good idea to jump to conclusions about people, and any particular symbol can have more than one meaning. “Happy Holidays” is a nice middle ground of a holiday greeting, because it also works even if you don’t happen to celebrate the holiday the other person does. Basically, not everyone celebrates Christmas.

I see a lot of people just throwing around numbers and saying there are this many or that many holidays in December without any citations or references, which got me thinking and falling into the rabbit hole that is internet research.

Within a few hours of research, I was able to find twenty twenty-one! (thank you Kate) holidays in December, across numerous different religions and observances. It is by no means a full/complete/perfect list, and I’m aware of that. The point is that just a little bit of time is all that it takes in order to broaden one’s perspective and acknowledge cultural differences.

So, without further delay, in order of the calendar:

As I said, I’m aware this list isn’t perfect. If I’ve missed something and feel like I should include it, just leave me a comment.

And happy holidays!

On ‘happy holidays’.

Existing in public.

So I was talking to my father this morning. We talked about account privacy and social media and such while we drank our morning coffee, for probably thirty or more minutes.

For me and my father, this is a pretty long conversation. Even more remarkable was that despite our disagreements the conversation remained civil for the entire time.

Social media is ubiquitous in today’s world. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+… Instagram, Snapchat, Vine… there are so many platforms. It’s easy for them to be overwhelming, and it can be hard to figure out where to establish a presence, or how much of a presence to actually establish.

I’ve typically approached this by keeping two Twitter accounts. (I have a Facebook as well, but only because there are some people I know who are only on Facebook.) One is private, one is public. The public one I use to interact with hashtags and big issues, and as my own personal miniature soapbox. The private one I use to talk to close friends, coordinate dinner plans, talk about work and other things which I just don’t want to be in the public eye. And then in between that, I have an Instagram account (which was what started the entire conversation, in fact). I used to put pictures either just on web space, or on Twitter, but this didn’t solve the problem of being able to share the pictures with other people who aren’t on that account. So I made an Instagram account, left it public, and it’s served me pretty well so far.

My father joined Instagram recently as well, and while I’ve gotten to the point where I’m rather blasé about all the public sharing, he really… isn’t. His account isn’t public, and it probably never will be, and I respect that. The idea that I have pictures out there with location tags freaks him out a little bit, and he just doesn’t understand why I would leave the photos out there for the world to see. But at this point, I exist in public.

When I’m at work (driving a city bus), I’m existing in public. It’s not too much of a stretch from that for me, to having pictures where anyone can access them. I’m still careful with what I share on the internet and where I share it— I heard too many cautionary tales when I was a teenager to not be careful. But if someone was going to stalk me, there’s a lot better ways to go about it than using my Instagram account.

Existing in public.