It’s Tradition This Time of Year.
It starts sometime around Thanksgiving on television or maybe by the checkout lady at the supermarket. “Happy Holidays,” we hear. “Merry Christmas,” someone says. It won’t take long after the first days of well-wishing for the age-old quarrel to start up again. “It’s ‘Merry Christmas’ not ‘Happy Holidays’!” People will begin to argue that we should not say “Happy Holidays” but instead say “Merry Christmas” because it is only out of fear of offending people that we have kicked the “Christ” out of “Christmas” and we should not forget the real reason for the season by adopting the mongrelized “Holiday” salutation in lieu of the Christian one. Well, the unfortunate news this season is that it’s all been a hoax. The whole thing. No one is offended if you say Merry Christmas. Few Christians are actually put out if someone says “Happy Holidays” to them.
There is No Real Conflict Between “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Holidays.” It’s a Sham.
Have you ever met, in person, someone who was genuinely offended by your use of “Merry Christmas?” Has someone actually said to you, “hey, when you say that, you offend me.” Chances are for most of us this has never happened. The reason why is because no one cares. People who don’t celebrate Christmas don’t care if you say it to them. No one is offended if you write “Merry Christmas” on your card or “Happy Holidays.” People who aren’t Christians don’t care if you say it. People who are Christians don’t care either. No one cares. Say whatever you want. The whole notion that this is an actual controversy is a mass media byproduct. Regular people like you and me have never, ever offended anyone from our use of the Christmas salutation. It’s a huge hoax. People are only offended when Christians act like idiots, no matter what greeting they use.
Sticking Up For Jesus?
A lot of people think that by saying “Merry Christmas” over “Happy Holidays” that they are in some way sticking up for Jesus or taking a stand for him where others have shamefully fallen away. They think that if they mention the name of Christ in their salutation that they have really kept on the straight and narrow and not sold out to materialism or subjectivism or postmodernism or any other –ism. But here is the sobering reality. Even when people do say “Merry Christmas,” more often than not they aren’t wishing you anything religious. In fact what they are really wishing you is more like, “happy warm-feelings and cozy wintertime happiness day.” Let’s be honest here. Even people who use the name of Christ in their Christmas greeting aren’t even thinking of Christ when they look forward to the holiday. To a lot of Christians in America, it is about feelings of happiness and family, cozy images of Thomas Kinkade wintertime scenes, snow, fireplaces, nice decorations and a general feeling of goodness that happens during a once-a-year holiday. I suspect that for most Christians only 1 out of every 40 “Merry Christmases” are about the Savior. Those other 39 greetings have the word “Christ” in them but they express the same secular feeling of generic goodwill that people intend when they say “Happy Holidays.” You’re saying X but you mean Y.
Want to Be a Real Rebel?
Say “Merry Holidays.” Say “Happy Christmas.” Say whatever words come in to your mind, it doesn’t matter, it’s a mandatory phrase that comes out of everyone’s mouths for a month each year and nine times out of ten doesn’t even mean anything significant to the person saying it. If you want to be a real rebel then just say whatever greeting you feel like but then actually care about people. Give to the poor. Help someone who needs help. Don’t freak out because someone cuts you off in traffic. Be patient in line. Want to really take a stand for the true meaning of Christmas? Stop caring about the two words that people use to greet each other and start caring about the things that God cares about like loving your enemies and speaking up for those who have no voice.
“Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen.” 2 Timothy 2:14