Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Have a Happy Merry Holidays Christmas

It has been a couple of months since I've posted.  The business I'm starting, Eclectic Willow, has begun to have some success, so much of my time has been split between my family and work.  But there is one issue that bothers me so much that I just had to post--the "Happy Holidays" vs. "Merry Christmas" debate.

When I was a kid, people said "Happy Holidays" all the time.  It wasn't a big deal.  No one I knew took it as a foul insult or assault on their religion.  My understanding was always that "Merry Christmas" referred largely to Christmas day while "Happy Holidays" was used more generally to cover the time between Thanksgiving and New Year's.  It was also used when one was not sure of another person's religion, since it could cover any holiday occurring during that time range.  It was a way to say that you hoped that time of year was wonderful.

Now?  Now you might as well say "Christmas is an invalid religion which you have no right to celebrate.  Become Satanist.  Become Atheist.  Jump off a bridge.  Bah Humbug, and I hope your life sucks."  At least to some people.  I've actually heard of a cashier who got told off for saying "Happy Holidays".  In a similar vein, it annoys me when non-Christians get upset if someone says "Merry Christmas".  They are just being nice.

To me, getting angry at someone for saying "Happy Holidays" OR "Merry Christmas" is basically like telling someone to shove it when they tell you to have a good day.  These are polite, well-meant phrases of goodwill that no one has to say to you.  Why are we making a habit of rejecting goodwill?  Good.  Will.  Who cares if it doesn't follow your personal religion or creed?  Does it really matter if your cashier at the grocery store celebrates the same way you do?  They are wishing you happiness and joy.

Really, isn't there enough conflict in the world without getting all worked up about this?  When you tell someone off for saying "Happy Holidays" or "Merry Christmas", aren't you defeating the entire purpose of this time of year?

Christians: Maybe you think everyone should be Christian and celebrate Christmas.  That's cool.  But what kind of example are you showing when you tell someone off who was just being nice?  Your anger and your conflict turn more people away from Christ than will draw them to Him.  WWJD is a good question here.  I personally think He would say "Happy Holidays", bless them, and move on.

Non-Christians:  Like it or not, Christianity is the major religion in much of the United States.  You don't have to follow it.  Your faith or lack thereof is your own personal matter.  When someone says "Merry Christmas", 99% of the time they are not insulting you or your religious choice.  They have probably just assumed that you are a member of the majority religion.  Say "Merry Christmas" back and go on with your day.  Even if you don't celebrate it, they clearly do, and your response is meant for them anyway.  Acting like an asshat is only going to make Christians more hostile to those rude non-Christians.

It seems like politeness is hard to come by these days.  As I mentioned above, no one has to wish you a good day, a good month, or a happy holiday season.  They do this out of kindness.  Other times of the year, we are lucky to get any kind of good wishes.  So stop getting worked up about the form this kindness takes.  This is a beautiful time of year, a time that should not be marred by endless arguments over which phrase of goodwill is more appropriate.  Accept the blessing you are given.  Go home, have some hot chocolate, and enjoy this merry season.