Do you send Merry Christmas wishes or Happy Holidays greetings?
It’s been a growing debate in recent years. The Catholic Daughters of Court John Paul II even created a movement against the political correctness of the generalized holiday greeting. They made buttons, pins, and bumper stickers that say “It’s OK to say to Merry Christmas to me!”
To their credit, proceeds are donated to charity and they maintain that by selling the items they helping retain the true spirit of Christmas by helping those in need.
But is a movement necessary?
I have to say I’ve seen this public quote a lot in my neighborhood this year, mostly in the form of bumper stickers on cars and vans. They are also selling them at my church. I’ll admit when I first saw them, I didn’t get the significance right away. After all, why wouldn’t it be OK to say Merry Christmas to someone?
Ironically, we’ve also seen an influx of Jewish families moving into the neighborhood in recent years. In the skeptical part of my mind, I wonder how much the growing number of pins and stickers has to do with changing local demographics.
Just last week, my son asked me for a dollar so he could buy a pin. I gave it to him and he wears it every day. He asked me what it meant so we had a conversation about how as a result of people of different faiths wanting to send each other good thoughts and wishes, it became easier to say Happy Holidays rather than Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, or Happy Kwanzaa. You might not be sure which faith, if any, they belonged to so this was an easy way to pick one broad term that covered them all.
No one should ever feel that they have to diminish their personal celebration or excitement for it just for the sake of political correctness. In many ways, we’ve become a society that is too touchy, too afraid of saying the wrong thing, when we should focus on the intention behind it.
We ended the conversation with my take on it all. Whenever anyone says something nice to you and wishes you well, you should be thankful, I said. They didn’t have to be nice, go out of their way to wish you well, and you should have gratitude. If you are Christian and someone mistakenly says “Happy Hanukkah” then simply say” Thank you, I celebrate Christmas but appreciate the thought”. Vice versa for a Jewish person receiving a Merry Christmas wish. Or an atheist receiving a religious greeting at all.
And if all else fails, try saying “Happy New Year”!