Joy to the World

I’ve been seeing that “It’s Merry Christmas, not Happy Holidays!” thing going around again, and…

…look. I was young and totally ethnocentric once. When “Happy Holidays” started to intrude on my awareness, I thought it was silly. We celebrated Christmas. Everybody I knew celebrated Christmas. It was ridiculous to use the phrase “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”. Worse, it was that vertboten of verboten things: politically correct.

I was an asshole, in that regard. I have no idea when I got over myself. A long time ago now, as I became increasingly aware that everyone I knew did not, in fact, celebrate Christmas. I personally became happier with Christmas cards that said season’s greetings or happy holidays, because they conveyed joy and good wishes to a wider spectrum of my friends than the phrase Merry Christmas did.

Because let’s face it: there are innumerable mid-winter holidays, plenty of which predate Christianity. Maybe the person saying “Happy Holidays” is Jewish and doesn’t celebrate Christmas. Maybe they’re an atheist and they’re tired of perpetuating the presumption that somebody who says “Merry Christmas” is of the dominant religious sect. Maybe they’ve met people who feel belittled when their personal mid-winter holiday is overrun by the assumption that everybody celebrates Christmas, and are trying to do their part in offering joy and happiness to the world without making anybody feel left out. I don’t see how any of those can be considered bad things.

It’s not persecution if you personally celebrate Christmas and somebody says “Happy Holidays” to you instead of “Merry Christmas.” The correct response can be “Thank you, you too!” or “Merry Christmas!” or “Happy Hanukkah!” or “Happy Solstice!” or whatever feels most natural to you, but “that’s not the right way to greet me at the holiday season” seems a bit mean and narrow-minded for a time of the year when we’re supposed to be filled with good will and kindness.

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