"Happy Holidays" Is the Best Choice

Pat RocchiPat Rocchi

I am a member of a leading a cappella singing group in Philadelphia. We gave a one-hour performance during this holiday season at a retirement home just last week. Our first emcee breezily opened the show with "Merry Christmas" and thanked the audience for having us. This bothered me for several reasons. First, I knew there were many Jewish people in the audience who were celebrating the start of Hanukkah that evening. Also, our program was not entirely religious; we were also singing secular music.

About two-thirds into the program, it was my turn as emcee. I was to introduce a decidedly Christian song about the morning that Jesus was born. I decided on the spot to be more inclusive, and I ad libbed this intro:

"It's so easy to get caught up in the externals of a holiday. For example, as we celebrate the start of Hanukkah, we may see eight days of gift giving rather than a miraculous victory in Jewish history. Similarly, it's easy for those of us who are Christians to forget the reason behind this season. That is why we sing this song about the birth of Christ...."

Several of our group's members (all of them Christians) told me later that they were happy about how I had changed the intro. They were both annoyed and embarrassed by the insensitivity of the opening. The woman who made the introduction told me later in an unrelated conversation that she has no trouble with going before an audience and saying "Merry Christmas.

" It seems to me that while many people are very concerned about inclusion, others are completely oblivious to it.


Pat Rocchi is a speaker, author, instructor, and video producer.

12/13/2010 5:00:00 AM
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