BY MIKE BRENNAN, Staff Columnist

Last time I wrote, I discussed the 5 Christmas songs that drive me absolutely crazy. I would like to clarify–I do not hate Christmas. I actually love it. I love what it stands for, both religiously and culturally.

I understand that not all people observe the religious aspects of it, but completely denying the cultural significance of Christmas?! Really, Scrooge? The holidays are supposed to be a time when people gather to reflect on the past year, to celebrate life, and enjoy the final days of the year.

Sure, most people start by bringing their lawn chairs to Wal-Mart to wait for hours on end for a second-rate, name-brand television or laptop, but they are still participating (or at least somewhat endorsing the holiday).

So what if it is called Christmas? That’s what a majority of the people celebrate. I am not in any way, shape, or form, trying to insinuate that other December holidays are second rate. I understand that this country was based off of freedom of religion. I might not understand the religious significance, but I’m pretty sure it involves gathering with family and friends for a happy get together.

Don’t get offended if people wish you a merry Christmas, after all, it is their right to wish it to people. Just reciprocate the gesture. If somebody wishes me a happy Hannukah, I don’t freak out on them, I simply respond with a ‘thank you,’ or wish them a happy Hannukah in return. Why? I would feel like a jerk if I told them that I don’t celebrate their holiday, especially if they went out of their way to send me good wishes. I understand that “happy holidays” is a politically correct way of covering every holiday, but enforcing that on everybody, and bullying them into adopting a universal phrase? C’mon, let’s have our freedom of speech and religion, and hopefully a little acceptance.

Likewise, if someone were to put my name on a dreidel, I wouldn’t throw it out immediately. If they thought enough of me to think of me during their holiday, I would consider it an honor, even if I don’t practice what they do. This holiday is about loving friends and family. Isn’t that what we need these days? Cyber-bullying is at an all-time high. The economy is still nowhere close to where it was a decade ago. Shouldn’t we all just take this time to celebrate that we still have family and friends in our life? I know that without those close to me, I probably would have driven my car into the Rouge River months ago. We need to spread the love, people! Treat others how you want to be treated! Isn’t that something most of us learn by the time we reach the age of 3?