Donna O'Donnell Figurski's Blog

It's All About Me!

Musings by Donna #41 Holiday Greeting du Jour


Holiday Greetings du Jour!

Tis the season to be merry and happy and gay, but lately I’ve noticed a lot of grumbling about how we should greet each other during this season of happiness.

I hear folks complaining that they are tired of hearing the saying “Happy Holidays.” They ask, “What’s the matter with saying Merry Christmas?” After all isn’t that what December is all about?

It is all about Christmas for some folks. Let me repeat, “For some folks.”

As a young girl, I grew up in Erie, Pennsylvania singing carols around the Christmas tree and waiting, not so patiently, for Santa to come on the early morn of December 25th.  I never heard anything other than, “Merry Christmas.” Probably because the only people I knew were christian – Catholic to be more precise. I lived an insular life.

Of course, my entire family, both immediate and extended, was Catholic and we looked forward each year to celebrating Christmas – the birth of Christ. It was a time for us to get together and share good feelings … and give and receive gifts. Since I went to a parochial school, all of my friends were Catholic. As a young child, I truly did not know anyone of another faith – well maybe a few Methodists or Presbyterians, but they celebrate Christmas too. So saying “Merry Christmas was normal. It was the accepted greeting. It was the only greeting. Like I said, I lived a very insular life.

But then I moved from Erie to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; to Rochester, New York; to San Diego, California; and then to New Jersey. As I moved, my world widened. It grew! My perspective grew. My tolerance, for people different from me with different views of the world, blossomed. I met so many people representing varied parts of the world. I flourished with this newness.

In my neighborhood, where I live now, I live with Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans, Filipinos, and Latinos. My Jewish friends celebrate Chanukah. My African American friends celebrate Kwanzaa. (many of them also celebrate Christmas) I have many neighbors whose roots are in the Middle East … in countries like Iran, Pakistan, and Turkey. Our very dear friends are from Dehli, India. They gently celebrate Christmas, but Diwali is their cherished holiday. It is a festival of lights, which celebrates good over evil. Yes, I live in a very diverse neighborhood in my little suburb of New York City … called New Jersey.

When I taught school I loved to boast that my classes of six- to nine-year-olds were made up of the league of nations. Ireland, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Georgia (near Russia), Iran, Turkey, Greece, Israel, Philippines, Japan, China, and Germany were some of the countries my students or their families hailed from. Many of them celebrate Christmas, but many do not.

During this holiday season of  merriment, happiness, and gaiety, in this greater New York area, most folks offer a cheery smile and because we really do not know which is your holiday “du jour,” we wholeheartedly wish you a very, happy holiday! (of your choice)

But if we knew … we would surely say: Happy Chanukah! or Happy Kwanzaa! or Happy Diwali! or … even Merry Christmas.

I wish you all a very, happy, healthy, and safe holiday … and a prosperous and Happy New Year.

At least we can all agree that January 1st will bring a new year.

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)


December 24, 2011 - Posted by | Musings by Donna | , , ,


  1. I love your holiday message, Donna. You are truly a citizen of the world.

    Comment by Dierdre Ruth | December 24, 2011 | Reply

    • Thanks for reading and responding, Dierdre. I love getting messages here. A very special Merry Christmas to you!


      Comment by donnaodonnellfigurski | December 24, 2011 | Reply

  2. Donna, I hope you and David have a very Merry Christmas!

    Comment by Janice | December 25, 2011 | Reply

    • Janice, a very Merry Christmas to you and your family, too. You have a lovely daughter. I get to hear tidbits about you on Kiersten’s FB page. Please give your mom and dad and Janine and her family our most sincere wishes for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I often think of you and your family. You all were a very important part of our lives. I always remember how your mom looked after Jared before school. She was a life-saver. Would love to see them again. Please tell them we are thinking of them and keep those pictures coming.

      Love, Donna

      Comment by donnaodonnellfigurski | December 25, 2011 | Reply

  3. Donna, I enjoyed reading your holiday message. I certainly do remember the days growing up and attending Catholic schools…that was our world. However, it is such a beautiful “awakening” when you move on in your life and know that there is a whole world out there that we cannot wait to experience.
    Thank you for the gift of your talents…you are a magnificent writer, teacher, wife, mother and friend. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

    Comment by Eilee | December 15, 2012 | Reply

    • Eileen,
      I was happy to have you as a friend in my “growing up” world. We were very insular and short-sighted in Erie, but that was okay. It’s all we knew. I, too, am glad to have grown enough to experience a bigger and better world at my fingertips. I love the diversity that my part of the world is made of. I know some parts of our country do not get to experience that fun.
      Thank you so much for not only reading my post/blog, but also commenting on it. So often it feels as though I am writing in a vacuum. It’s good when my words ultimately affect someone. Thanks for being that someone.

      Hugs, Donna

      Comment by Donna O'Donnell Figurski | December 15, 2012 | Reply

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