This letter was previously published but is timely, so it’s worth another go.
I say Merry Christmas. To me, the day is to celebrate the one God who was born, the Christ in Christmas. The reason for the season for me. So I say Merry Christmas.
Now if you are of differing opinion, as I might be if you said Happy Kwanzaa, then you nod and move on just as I would do if you were greeting me with your religious views. Oh, I really would probably say Happy Kwanzaa back to you, not because I know much about it or believe in it, but rather because you do and it seems important enough to you that you name it. I would want to wish all the best back to someone who at least believes in something or someone besides themselves. (oh, did I write that out loud?) and truly hope they have a happy Kwanzaa, Christmas, Hanukkah, Easter, or birthday (well maybe no one is objecting to that one – yet) anniversary or Thanksgiving.
I would want that other person to feast on all the joy and wonder that particular day (or season) would bring. Why dilute that for them or me? Why blandize it (that’s a word isn’t it) and genericize it (ditto) and say Happy Holidays like I am going to celebrate them all, attend all the ceremonies, eat at them all, well, you get the idea.
Merry Christmas and Merry Kwanzaa are totally different celebrations, especially to the participants. Lumping them all together with all other holiday celebrations just isn’t right. How far do we go? Do we go back to include Thanksgiving? Columbus Day or Veterans day? Do we go forward to include Martin Luther King Day? (How about my birthday, that’s in there somewhere too)
Are we that bland, general or universal that we cannot use some thought when remembering dates important to some particular people? I would want to have my wedding day remembered because it brought me great joy. Similarly, the birth of Christ to me is important and, in my mind, needs to stand on its own. Are we so incapable of feeling for that other person that we just lazily quip some general holiday greeting?
As mentioned before, Christ’s birth day celebration is special to so many. (I know it’s not his true time of His birth as it was lambing time, with flocks in the field – important because He was the ultimate sacrifice, the “Lamb of God” who came to save all believers from their sins) Thanksgiving is also important to me, though it may be lost in the general “Happy Holiday” salute. It’s a day (actually one of many) when we need to reflect on all the many blessings we have and most often take for granted.
Let’s be specific. You are not harming me with your “Happy Holiday” greeting as I do not know of anyone who died after hearing (or saying) it or Merry Christmas for that matter. Don’t you hear other things during a typical day that offend you? Do you ban the radio or television? Or do simply change the channel? (BTW, it’s a great teaching moment for young people as they say when any of the above greetings are said) If you did hear something you didn’t understand or know about or appreciate, you probably move on and don’t apply it to your particular life or beliefs.
Do you not say gesundheit because you do not want to offend people that are not German? Or manana or adios because of Hispanics? No more merci or Ciao then! Nope. Gots to robotically reply “my name is” or, as they say in My Fair Lady only talk about yourself and the weather. Pretty boring.
So let’s resolve to be real as well as tolerant this and any holiday season celebratory time, for all our sakes.
And I do wish you a very Merry Christmas.