Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Happy Holidays

It's a commonplace that "thank you" is a rhetorical way of dismissing someone.  It's the last thing you say, or need say, to any kind of contractor, service person, or sales person.  And it's the last thing they need to say to you.  So, if someone is almost beginning an argument, which might take awhile, you can dismiss them with "thank you" and move on.

It doesn't seem quite as well known that holiday slogans such as "Merry Christmas" and "Happy Holidays" serve very much the same role rhetorically.  They are last words.  Since they are Non Sequitur, it follows they can only be responded in kind or with another non sequitur, politely of the same kind.

So as we are giving others our good wishes (or gratitude) we are also telling them "Move out of my way, buddy, I gotta get on with my Christmas shopping."

Now don't take this too badly, quite often non sequiturs are absolutely needed.  About once a minute or so perhaps…  And without them, people often become bores without knowing it.

Now the Christmas Greetings have another less-then-fully-wonderful aspect.  The are obviously an example of cultural imperialism.  We may think, despite the windbags, Christmas has become basically a secular holiday, and we need secular holidays, so go with what the Romans do, Christmas is for all Americans--a secular American holiday, not an exclusively Christian one.  But regardless of thinking that or not, not all people can be expected to think that, and there are those Christian windbags insisting that it isn't a secular holiday too, so there is that to think about also.

So offering a specific holiday with religious baggage as greeting is unavoidably culturally imperialistic.

Returning such a greeting isn't imperialistic, though it might be other things.  Not returning such a greeting in kind could be worse, or not, as transitions can occur to needless and useless argument.

I'm not that worried in the act of a single "Merry Christmas."  While it is unavoidably culturally imperialistic, it may be very little so unless used as a platform for further invasion, as the windbags do.

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