I am not a religious person “per se”. My parents weren’t much of church goers, although my Grandma was a devout Catholic. For being a great private school in Rio, they put me in a Loyola jesuit school which offered all the grades, and it wasn’t easy to get in, I had to work hard. Not about religion, just good old Math and Grammar. Later on, I chose to attend a renowned catholic college for its excellence in education, and with even harder work I got accepted. But this was about education in Brazil. In reality, I was really just a sheep slowly going astray to vaster pastures. Man made rituals, a book written by men in ancient times and dogmas didn’t give me the answers I was seeking. Still, I have my own diverse set of beliefs, and Christmas stayed with me, more for family reasons, present exchanges, delicious food and the greater meaning that grew roots in my heart. As a matter of fact, I love the holiday season. The spirit of giving, the comfort of receiving. One of the reasons I named my son Nick is because of the patron saint of kids, Saint Nick, or Santa. Baby Jesus to me is the personification of goodness and messages of hope. The idea of an immigrant spreading the word about love, tolerance, the importance of good deeds and kindness is all I need.
I don’t know much about Chanukah, except for the menorah and the beautiful story of the oil that was supposed to last for one night and, by miracle, lasted eight nights. I don’t know much about Kwanzaa or any other ethnic or religious celebrations – but I do know the spirit of togetherness and love seems to be a common theme in all these festivities. And that’s what matters at the end of the day. I mean, the year. I mean, always.
Therefore I am not joining the “what to say” drama. I say Happy Holidays because I simply don’t know what holiday the person is celebrating, and the ones not celebrating may still be excited about the New Year, also a holiday. And if not even that, I prefer to think that they won’t be offended by my well wishes. Just like I don’t, if others say it in different ways. Wish me well, and I’m swell. Because to me, personally, the goal is to absorb what Jesus, that wise man that some people quote fervently and robotically, without truly reflecting on the meanings of his words, said: “love thy neighbor”.
Whatever your holiday is – a religious event, a gathering of loved ones, or none whatsoever, I wish you peace, love and happiness: personally, to your family and your dear friends. Also, in larger scale, to the our big family called humankind. We can use that. A lot. Any given day.
Thanks for reading, and enjoy!