"Happy Holidays" or "Merry Christmas"

Note: I originally posted this on December 13, 2006. I’m re-posting it now to preempt some of the stupid “war on Christmas” nonsense we hear every year.

The Herald-Times sent the following question to their “instant message” panel yesterday:

Does it matter whether people wish you “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays?”

I responded, but will expand on my response here. It seems like we hear about this “war on Christmas” every year, and I’m frankly sick of the whining and crying on both sides.

First of all, people who get offended by the phrase “Merry Christmas” need to grow up. If the greeting is made as a genuine expression of goodwill, then treat it as such. If you do not worship Jesus Christ, then think of it as “have a nice day”. Most of the time, “Merry Christmas” is not intended to disparage your faith or lack thereof. It is not intended to restrict your right to worship (or not worship) as you see fit. If you are truly offended by the phrase “Merry Christmas”, ask yourself why you are offended.

Second, the phrase “Merry Christmas” should not be accompanied by an extended middle finger. If the phrase truly offends someone, do not ram it down his or her throat. No matter how childish the offended person may be, the attitude of “I’m going to say ‘Merry Christmas’ whether people want to hear it or not” that we hear from some quarters is just as childish as getting offended by it in the first place.

Some pundits have complained about retail chains that instruct employees to say “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings” instead of Merry Christmas. This too is overblown. A retail chain makes a decision for business reasons, not because they wish to eradicate a holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. In addition, no one’s rights are being violated here. If you work in a retail store, you do as you are told in how to greet customers. You are to respect the authority places over you, and if you do not like the policy you are free to seek employment elsewhere.

I have to ask the question to people determined to defend against this “War on Christmas”: What would Jesus do? Would Jesus Christ want us to respect someone’s wishes and greet him the way he wants to be greeted, or would Jesus want us to use “Merry Christmas” as another way to say “f*** you”? I somehow doubt that God wants us to use the joyous occasion of the birth of our Savior to “stick it” to someone else.

People, it is Christmas time. Stop looking for battles to fight and focus on what should be the happiest time of the year. Easily offended crybabies need to recognize that they live in a culture that, while certainly not Christian, is heavily influenced by Christianity. The Christmas “warriors” on the other side need to approach the issue with love, mercy and grace and understand that there will always be people who are offended by the name of the Lord. Those people need prayer and the Gospel, not an obscene gesture.

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