Last weekend, my husband and I stood in a line at a store to buy a Christmas gift, and I spoke with the people behind me. I admit I have a love-hate relationship with lines. I hate them because it’s a moment where time stands still, and the world seems to close in on me. I love them because I meet people from all walks of life.
Behind us was a man in his sixties looking at K-pop Calendars with his teenage daughter. She was swooning over a Fab-Five kind of band that forms grand stories within a young girl’s imagination.
The small talk began, and it was pleasant enough, nothing earth-shattering or complex, which is the beauty of small talk (a kind of drive-by shooting only with words about the weather instead of bullets).
Finally, it was our turn at the register. We paid, and, on our way out, I turned and said, “Happy Holidays!”
“MERRY CHRISTMAS!!” the man shouted back, making me stop. It didn’t sound like he meant it—it sounded like an angry assault. I craned my neck to see the man, wondering if I had misunderstood.
“MERRY. CHRIST. MAS!!!” He shouted again, eyes bulging, face the shade of fresh poinsettias, his fists in white-knuckled clutches at his side.
“Okay?” I said and hurried to catch up with my husband.
This was the second time something like this had happened in as many weeks. My husband and I are in line. We meet people, exchange pleasantries, and then this… I say, “Happy Holidays,” and get (cue the sound of a double barrel shotgun cocking) a very unmerry, “MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! (Yes, with triple exclamation marks).
What is it with people? I wish you well, no matter what your belief system is. I say Happy Holidays because I don’t know what you believe, celebrate, or how. I don’t mean anything more than that.
When someone compliments me, I don’t stop them and say, “No! I don’t want you to compliment my hair. You must compliment my shoes!”
Season’s Greetings or Happy Holidays is not some covert assault to take away all your guns and abolish the 2nd Amendment (by the way, check the history of where this came from and why it’s not what people think).
I say Happy Holidays because we met, we shared a moment, and I’m ending our small interaction with a wish for hope, peace, and harmony. I want the best for you. Period.
Please keep in mind any kind of holiday pleasantry is not supposed to be taken as an offense, and I promise that I will not be offended that some sixty-year-old in some line knew an exorbitant amount about K-pop.