Seasons greetings and happy holidays to all of the Soap Boxers community! I hope that each of you has had a wonderful time celebrating whatever and however. For those of you who have exchanged gifts, I hope that you received what you desired or needed and I hope that what you gave was accepted with joy. For those who have taken this time of year to volunteer for the less fortunate, thank you. For those who volunteer regardless of the season, thank you as well.

Now I will launch into a critical commentary on the holidays in general. If you do not know the custom of a holiday, please do not wing it. Two weeks ago, the President of the United States offered a heart felt recognition of Chanukah and the Jewish community by lighting all of the candles of a menorah. This was wrong in two ways. First, it was several days prior to the beginning of the celebration. Second, one does not light all of the candles on the first day, it is a progressive event spanning eight days. This faux pas lays squarely on the shoulders of the president’s protocol office. One person cannot know all of the traditions of every religion. When he announced his intention to recognize the event, the protocol office should have made all of the preparations to avoid any embarrassment; they failed.

Then there are the twelve days of Christmas. I am really tired of people calling the twelve days leading up to Christmas by this name. The Twelve Days are the days between Christmas day and Epiphany. That would be the days traditionally recognized as the birth of Christ and the arrival of the wise men to offer their gifts (western or Roman tradition). In many Christian traditions, gifts are not given until Epiphany in remembrance of this event. The days leading up to Christmas are called Advent. This is a time of waiting, comprised of the weeks including the four Sundays before Christmas. The basic idea is to build up the excitement of the arrival of the infant, similar to the excitement most children have as the big gift giving day approaches.

On a happier note, I noticed that most of the news coverage this year was on the various celebrations. There were few stories of someone not being allowed to do something, such as a nativity or menorah on public property. To me this is inclusion. Keep adding to the displays to include as many groups and beliefs as possible, do not exclude just because it is not what you believe or like. We hear a lot about diversity, but that is of no benefit if it is not coupled with inclusion. You do not have to believe or agree with everything someone else espouses, but if you include them and accept them as people with valid points of view, you can only benefit from their acquaintance. Inclusion breeds diversity and true diversity breeds inclusion. By the tally of reports I have watched over the last few weeks, I am excited that inclusion seems to be the spirit this year. I truly hope that this spirit grows and becomes the predominant attitude in the future.

 

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Martin writes about writing in his weekly column Ramblings from Martin.

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