Wednesday, December 14, 2005

My (Pardon The Expression) GOD, Let's Just Be HAPPY For A While

It's getting harder and harder to be in the (pardon the expression) "holiday" spirit these days. As a retailer (which is, among other things, what I do these days), THESE days are getting WAAAAAAAAAY too stressful for one reason (over and above all the other reasons): What to say or not to say?

This morning I was a guest on a local radio station to promote our historic downtown's "2nd Wednesday Walkabout", which involved fundraisers, a (pardon the expression) Santa on a horsedrawn carriage, musicians performing (pardon the expression) holiday music, a youth group singing (pardon the expression) Christmas carols, merchants offering free (pardon the expression) Christmas cookies, and the like. Before going to the radio station at the un-(pardon the expression)Godly hour of 7.50 AM, I read the local newspaper while caffeinating.

There was a letter from someone who'd written, in no uncertain terms, that if he or his friends (assuming he has some) or family (see previous assumption) heard or read an advertisement from any business that used the phrase "Happy Holidays", he and his aforementioned friends and family would make it their business to assiduously avoid patronizing (meaning spending money with, not the other kind of patronizing) aforementioned businesses, and in his letter, he put us all "on notice".

Well. After my radio plug, I was scheduled to record three 15-second spots to be used on rotation on the local station for my business. As a writer, I'd written my own scripts the night before. As a producer, I knew exactly the read I wanted. As a voice-over talent, I knew just how to read them. As an independent retailer, I had to be writer/producer/talent, whether I wanted to or not.

Now, after having read that letter to the editor in the newspaper, which almost (almost!) eliminated my need for caffeine because it got my heart racing (and not in a good way), I was faced with a problem. I'd written "Happy Holidays" as the first two words in one of my three 15-second spots. What to do? Cave? Hold forth? Fight for 30-second spots so I'd have time to explain to the three people who listen to the station WHY I was saying "Happy Holidays"?

I basically caved... not entirely, though. I used the C-word in one, the S-word in the other, and the W-word in the last (that's "Christmas", "Season" and "Wonderland"... what were YOU thinking?)

I found myself, throughout the business day and evening, wishing people a nice afternoon/evening/night....and waiting to hear what THEY said before responding. What has become of me, I kept thinking. Finally, at one point, someone said "Happy Holidays. I mean, Merry Christmas". I said "Thank you. Happy Holidays to you. And Merry Christmas. And Happy Hannukah. And can we PLEASE all JUST be HAPPY??" which the someone said, "Amen".

And I knew what he meant. And I got it. And so did the other people in my shop. And everyone smiled at everyone else as Nat King Cole sang, "Although it's been said many times, many ways, Merry Christmas to you".

Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. Seasons Greetings. Let heaven and nature sing. Merry Christmas, Darling. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas. Happy Hannukah. Peace On Earth To Men Of Good Will (and by the way, peace to those NOT of good will... maybe it'll help).

Celebrate The Season. Back Off. Back Up. Relax. Smile. Play. Enjoy. Hug. Share. Cry. Laugh. Exult. Pray. Or Not. Peace. Love. Understanding. Live. Let Live. Give, Gladly. Receive, Graciously.

And, most importantly....REMEMBER... that this season, this spirit, however you celebrate it, and even if you don't, is about giving and forgiving, about sharing, about loving....and it's supposed to be a daily/365 reminder, not an annual appointment. Say whatever you want as long as it's said in a spirit of goodness. Celebrate as you choose. It's all good....isn't it? Yes, it is. It really, REALLY is.
Isn't there enough fighting and dictating in the world? Yes, there is, there really, REALLY is.

Just smile at someone when you say whatever you say, because you believe whatever you believe. Make it a good December....not everyone will accept your greeting. Some will want to politicize you. Smile again, or engage them, if you will, in meaningful discussion...or not. Then move on, and smile at the next person...and remember to do it all month, all year long, not just now, during the (pardon the expression) holiday season.

Happy Holidays! Happy New Year! "Make someone happy....just one someone happy, and you will be happy, too." Unapologetically yours, and wishing all people health, happiness and success... "Telewriter"

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