“Merry Holidays”?

And so the old argument rears its ugly head every year: Should we say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays”?

My answer: “It depends.”

Some may argue that “Merry Christmas” is insensitive to those who do not celebrate Christmas and/or who are not Christian. That may be so, although there are many people who celebrate the secular aspects of Christmas (tree-trimming, gift-giving, etc.) without celebrating the spiritual aspects (the birth of Christ) of it. I believe it’s perfectly fine to say “Merry Christmas” to these people, as well as to Christians who are commemorating the Savior’s birth.

Then there are other folks who claim that “Happy Holidays,” which is often used as a more inclusive alternative to “Merry Christmas,” is too liberal. In fact, I’ve heard of people wearing shirts that read “Happy Holidays” Is What Liberals Say. I can understand that they are concerned about Christ being removed from the holiday itself (and I personally am concerned about that myself), but I also think that “Happy Holidays” Is What Liberals Say is rather arrogant. Name-calling is never okay, folks.

So, to get back to my answer to the dilemma, “It depends.”

If you know for a fact that a person is of a faith that is not Christian, you should say “Happy Holidays.” If you say “Merry Christmas,” the person may think you are assuming that they are Christian–and it’s rather insensitive to assume that anyone is of a particular faith. It’s the same as seeing someone who appears to be from India and assuming that they are Hindu. (Not all people from India are Hindu, and not everyone who “looks” Indian is from there.) I personally have two good friends who are Jewish, and to them I say either “Happy Holidays” or “Happy Hanukkah” (the latter during the eight days when the holiday is celebrated). They, however, say “Merry Christmas” to me, which is perfectly acceptable, since they know what faith I belong to.

What are your opinions on the “Merry Christmas” vs. “Happy Holidays” debate? Please, no bashing any particular faith.

The grapevine

Every editor should have their own grapevine.

What do I mean by this?

A “grapevine,” as I call it, is a network of referrals. If I do great work for a client, I want that client to refer me to others who might be in need of editing. Of course, the client is under no obligation to refer me, but I do like to encourage clients to do so.

If a client refers me to another person who is in need of editing and I do a great job for that person as well, then that person will (I hope) refer me to other people. It is in this way that an editor’s grapevine grows.

In the summer of 2020, a colleague of mine whom I know through a professional organization referred me to an editor friend of hers who had been asked to edit a scientific manuscript. The friend specialized in editing fiction, but asked me if I would work on the manuscript. I accepted, and after I had finished editing, the manuscript was accepted for publication in a scientific journal.

Just last week, my colleague’s friend mentioned me on her blog and linked my name to my website. That was so wonderful of her!

Sometimes referrals can come from the most unlikely sources. When I was in grad school, there was a professor in my department whom I’d had no contact with in some twenty years. When I launched my editing business, I contacted her and told her that I would love to edit scientific manuscripts and grant proposals for the department. The professor referred me to a part of the university that was looking to build a pool of editors to do such work. A few interviews and signed paperwork later, I became one of the university’s contractor editors who edits for various scientific faculty. God bless that professor.

My grapevine is growing.

Taking yet another plunge

Some of you may recall that I successfully completed the Editorial Freelancers Association’s series of online copyediting classes last April (specifically, I completed Advanced Copyediting at that time). Although the classes were fun, they did take up a significant amount of my time (Advanced especially so) and at the end of April, I said to myself, “It will be a long time before I take another class!”

You know what they say: Never say never.

This past week, I registered for another online class offered by the EFA: Macros from A to Z.

“What is a macro, what does it have to do with editing, and why do you want to learn about macros, Suzelle?” you ask.

It’s very difficult to explain what macros are without plagiarizing the words that I have read that were written by others. So I will attempt to explain them on my own. Bear with me.

Macros are, in my feeble understanding, keyboard shortcuts that editors install on their computers and that make editing more efficient.

I’ve read in Carol Fisher Saller’s The Subversive Copy Editor that if you aren’t using macros, you’re not making an honest living (paraphrased).

I’m all for efficiency and I’m definitely all for making an honest living, so off to “macros class” I go, come April 18, 2022.

Fortunately, the class is for macro beginners, and comes with a discussion forum and three Zoom sessions in which students can help each other and get help from the instructor. I’m looking forward to it, although it is most likely not going to be easy, as it deals with material with which I am unfamiliar. With the copyediting classes, I could say, “Oh, I’ve seen this kind of thing before.” With macros…uh-uh.

I blogged a while ago about how one should never stop improving, and what I’m writing about here goes right back to that point. If I use macros in my editing and they make me more efficient and save my clients money, then that is a strong improvement. (And yes, I will be doing my editing work as usual during the period of time in which the class will be, which means that my Saturdays will be for macros.)

Dear readers, if you know any information about macros, kindly share it with us in the comments.