The long Thanksgiving weekend is over (mine started at noon Tuesday) and now it is time to move on. To Christmas.
I want to say up front that I am not offended when a sales person (or anyone) says “Happy Holidays” to me. The reasons are three-fold.
First of all, that person’s intention is not to be offensive but rather inclusive. S/he doesn’t know if I am Christian, Jewish, Agnostic or Atheist. During the weeks between the end of November and early January there are several holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chanukah, and Kwanzaa. (There are probably some Islamic holy days in this time period but I couldn’t find a list of 2012 dates. And since none of their holy days are heavy on gift giving, there’s no retail hype.) Eastern Orthodox Christians celebrate Twelve Days of Christmas, which occurs from December 25 to January 6. Then there is Jerry Seinfeld’s “Festivus for the Rest of Us.” (Joke)
So you see the person who says, “Happy Holidays” is just trying to include everyone who might be celebrating anything. It’s the seasonal equivalent of “Have a nice day.” No need for me to get my back up and reply, “Mind your own business, I’ll have whatever kind of day I want.” It’s much more polite to say, “Right back atcha.”
Second, I don’t think the ones who give that greeting are “trying to take Christ out of Christmas.” They can’t, by the way, and we do a pretty good job of that ourselves without any help from them.
Thirdly … I’m pretty sure Jesus doesn’t want the celebration of his birth to become a battleground or the center of a controversy over semantics. He is the personification of Grace, Peace and Love. He says we should be nice to each other.
Charles Dickens let Scrooge say it well, “I will honor Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year.”