I’m not sure if it’s an American phenomenon, but it’s been pointed out to me that it isn’t politically correct to say “Merry Christmas” and instead “Happy Holidays” is the appropriate greeting. I have to say I think that’s pretty silly and here’s why. First, Christmas is a national holiday observed by Christians and non-Christians alike. It’s a holiday even in places like India where Christians only make up 2.3% of the population. I honestly hope the other 97.7% of India will enjoy their day off too.
Next, “Happy Holidays” isn’t really any better. If I happen to be greeting someone from China or a Jehovah’s witness, they very likely aren’t celebrating any holiday at all this time of the year (or perhaps ever). Finally, worrying about offending someone with a Merry Christmas seems plain old silly. Of course I know not everyone is a Christian; most of my readers aren’t. Even so, when I say “Happy Fourth of July” I don’t stop to check for American passports, and I celebrate St. Patrick’s day even though one look makes it pretty clear I’m anything but Irish. So that said, I’d like to wish all my readers a very Merry Christmas!
I’d also like to take a moment to look back upon the year that is ending. For me it’s been an intense year with both incredible highs and lows, but many years ago a good friend once asked me what I’d prefer. Would I like a life that was steady and calm, without extremes of joy or suffering, or would I prefer to reach incredible highs and suffer through dark valleys as well? I immediately chose the second option and can only be incredible grateful that my wish has come true. I hope this next year will be as kind to me as the last, even though I’ll keep trying to push for more mountain tops than valleys.
Finally, a little update about what to expect from “An Out of the Way Place” in 2012, I will do my best to make a post every single week of the year. In the past, I’ve been anything but reliable, but this year has taught me just how rewarding self-discipline can be and I hope to apply some of what I’ve learned to this blog. I have plans to do some serious hiking through the highlands of Scotland to start the New Year, followed by trips to unknown monasteries, isolated mountains and forgotten towns. All that, and hopefully my first book by mid-2012, should give everyone plenty to read.
2011 has been an unforgettable year thanks to all of you and for Christmas I’d like to send everyone a gift. Unfortunately I have little to offer, but what I can offer is my art. Should any of you find that there’s a particular photo you would like a copy of, either electronic or printed, please just let me know where to send it. Also, although it is completely unnecessary, if anyone insists on getting me a gift, I’m still looking for warm hiking gear, places to stay or small donations.
Once again, from the bottom of my heart, thank you all again for helping me make it through this extraordinary year. I may be homeless and have less money than ever before, but thanks to you this Christmas I am richer than ever before.