I understand, I really do. If you are even a nominal Christian, all the politically-correct Christmas Evasion seems a little forced and overdone. Not to mention leaving you feeling a bit marginalized. Last year retail stores depended, for their very existence, on people doing lots of gift shopping, most of it for Christmas–starting almost before they had a chance to digest their Thanksgiving dinners. And yet, very few companies referred to Christmas in their advertising. “Holiday shopping,” they said instead. After all, there are other holidays in and around December. But the Evasion was obvious– I mean, people in Santa hats populated most of the commercials. The dumbest thing was when stores advertised “Holiday Trees,” even though I have never heard of any holiday besides Christmas that features cut evergreen trees.
So then came a backlash from some Christians. I started getting spammed with angry paragraphs about how the phrase “Happy Holidays” was bad in itself, as if coined in the heart of some evil empire. “Don’t you DARE say ‘Happy Holidays’ to ME,” a few said.
This year the backlash has become louder. Now I hear well-meaning people acting as if there is no other holiday on the calendar besides Christmas. Somebody in the Dallas area even put out a “Scrooge List” online, listing any retailer or other company that dared to post a sign reading “Happy Holidays.” As if “Happy Holidays” = “Bah, humbug.”
Can we just think about this for a minute, please? Now, I see no reason why anyone should be offended if I wish them a Merry Christmas, whether they celebrate the holiday or not. BUT, by the same token, I see no reason at all why I should be offended if someone wishes me a Happy Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or Wright Brother’s Day. I respect these days/holidays although I don’t particularly observe them. The point is, someone has extended to me a wish for happiness. Where is the offense in that? Same with a generic holiday wish. It’s a friendly gesture; get over it.
Back to the retailers. There are at least three gift-giving holidays in December, bookended by Thanksgiving and New Year’s. So why should we demonize these folks for summing up the five-week season with one sign reading “Happy Holidays?” To me, the Scrooge is the one who demands that everyone celebrate and refer to his holiday-of-choice exclusively.
There is a danger of turning “Merry Christmas” into some sort of litmus test that we use to divide “us” from “them.” So, Christians, wish people a Merry Christmas all you want, but be sure you are offering a sincere greeting and not throwing down a gauntlet. As near as I can figure, if we want people to sense the mercy and grace of God that led to Jesus’ Incarnation, we should probably lose the steely eye and belligerent voice. How about if we let the chip on our shoulder give way to genuine friendliness?
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays… and Peace on Earth, y’all!
Thanks for reading!
PS: I am linking up with Jen over at Soli Deo Gloria today. These ladies really have a heart for encouraging one another.