Field of Science

Merry Holidays and Happy Christmas

While we are in the closing days of the annual (war on) Christmas season, I wanted to address a meme that floats around yearly. It showed up in my Facebook feed a bunch of times and is a meme spread by FAUX news for the last few weeks.
This clever sounding sound-bite makes a clear point: Christmas is the only holiday we are allowed to care about. Not Hanukkah, not Kwanza, not the solstice, definitely not the new year, nor the oxford comma. I expect some people promoting this meme are generally well-meaning and not the douches they seem to be. So with some limited holiday spirit in mind, I want to take a minute to let you know what 'It's not happy holidays, it's Merry Christmas!' means and doesn't mean to me.

What it means: It means you fail to recognize your Christian privilege. You assume that since Jesus is important to you, he should be important to them too. You assume that since in your tradition you choose to have the winter solstice represent the birth of Jesus that everyone else should too. No matter what someone else's religious, non-religious, cultural, tribal, or other background is, they must enjoy this time of year as you deem fit.

What it doesn't mean: It doesn't mean that you are expressing goodwill or joy or happiness or any other positive feeling to others (Christian or otherwise). You are making a political statement. Your 'Merry Christmas' is not actually a message of hope that I am merry on the 25th of December. It's a demand that I prostrate myself to your overbearing and extremely limited interpretation of Christianity. 

What it means: It means that the first amendment means little to you except a protection of your religious beliefs. When states make laws demanding that stores are closed on Christmas (interfering with the free market), it has to be (and has been) justified from a secular standpoint. Of course everyone knows these kind of laws are only established to benefit Christianity, the justification promoted uses a reach around approach to avoid this obvious position.

What it doesn't mean: It doesn't mean that all people in this country are equal under the law. Or maybe I should say that all people are equal under the law, but some animals are more equal than others (thank you public education).

What it means: It means that when a stranger tells me Merry Christmas, I now have to wonder if they actually are expressing well-wishes and happiness or being douchebags like the people who post pictures like the above on Facebook. For that, I want to wish you a:

(I wasn't going to write this post, but then I came across the Grumpy Cat picture, which made me laugh so hard, my 11 year old wanted to know what was so funny. After that I had to write this post. So thanks and Happy Holidays to all the Grumpy Cats in the world (and a Merry Christmas to everyone).)

My Favorite Time of the Year

From here
One of the courses I teach culminates with blog posts written by the students. This is the third year I have used this assignment and is one assignment the students actually enjoy doing (at least based on student feedback from previous years). Students will be submitting their final essays on some aspect of research on eukaryotic microbes in the next few days and you will be able to find them here. Until the new ones are posted, you can see some essays written previously.

FYI: The assignment is to write an essay of 1000 - 1500 words for a lay audience of science enthusiasts that incorporates at least primary research papers on a eukaryotic microbe. (Microbe being defined in the course as an organism that exists primarily as a single celled organism, thus excluding microscopic multicellular animals.) Students were allowed to write in any voice and use any style of writing.

If you read through an essay, please leave a comment for the student.