“Season’s Greetings!” “Happy Holidays!” As battle cries go, those are pretty ineffective. Whoever declared war on Christmas didn’t really think that one through. You would think ammunition in a war would be a little less – cheerful.
But that doesn’t stop the commentary every year. The Facebook memes proudly claiming that the sharer says “Merry Christmas” whether you like it or not. Nothing says joy and cheer quite like aggressively growling a greeting. It often feels like more of a threat than a well-wishing.
“We’re not allowed to say Merry Christmas anymore!” they cry. Says who? Who is waiting in the wings with a net ready to snag people at the very mention of the C-word? Who have you wished a Merry Christmas to, and had them respond, “How DARE you greet me as such, foul swine! Leave my establishment at once!”
It’s true, people who work with the public, and indeed many who don’t, do choose to wish people they don’t know a more blanket greeting. This is in no way an assault on Christmas. It’s not a trap. It’s just not; stop pretending it is.
If you respond, “Thank you, Merry Christmas!” the floor does not open beneath you, imprisoning you in Jingle Jail. It simply means that this person isn’t sure what, if anything, you celebrate, but wanted to brighten your day.
I have never, not once, not ever witnessed someone say “Merry Christmas” and be chastised for it. I have, on several occasions, seen someone use “Happy Holidays” as a soapbox from which to preach the persecution of the poor Christmas-wishers, and to condemn all who dare say anything else. If there is, in fact, a war going on, it’s clear the war is on “Seasons Greetings.”
But why doesn’t everyone just say “Merry Christmas?” Surely there is no reason to say “Happy Holidays” aside from offending the delicate sensibilities of people who come to OUR country and expect us not to celebrate our own religious beliefs (oh, that hurt to type. I feel like I need to wash my hands.) The truth is, of course, that people who do not celebrate Christmas are not offended by being wished a Merry Christmas. Why would someone be offended by being wished a happy greeting?
(Why, Christmas soap-boxers? Ahem.)
But still, if they aren’t offended, then why do we say anything other than Merry Christmas? Because Christmas is just one of many holidays during this time of year. Hanukkah, Yule, Kwanzaa, Diwali, Yalda, Koliada, the list of holidays celebrated around the same time as Christmas goes on. Christmas does not have a monopoly on November and December. And even if we wanted to be so narrow-minded as to only include Christianity in our well-wishes, there are several Christian holidays observed this time of year, as well as New Year, that “Happy Holidays” would encompass.
Choosing to acknowledge other celebrations than your own in no way diminishes yours, it simply amplifies the cheer. Wish people well in whatever way you want to, and when someone wishes you happiness, say thank you, don’t criticize them for doing it “wrong.”
Christmas is alive and well. It’s not going anywhere. Learning about what other faiths are celebrating will not change that, but it might help enrich our own holidays. It’s happiness. It’s rejoicing. It’s good will. Is there not enough room in our hearts to welcome it all?
Please, wish me Merry Christmas. Wish me Happy Hanukkah. Wish me Habari Gani, and Seasons Greetings, and anything else that is meant to lift me up and brighten my day. Teach me about the traditions that are special to you, I would love to hear it.
There is no war on Christmas. There is simply making room at the table for all of us to share this joyful feast together. Please, choose to pull up a chair.