I dreaded getting holiday greetings from strangers when I was a kid. You see, I was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness and any discussion of any holiday/celebration inevitably led to a recitation—”Because it’s a lie!” “Because someone got their head cut off!” “Because we are grateful EVERY day!”—of why I didn’t celebrate them.
Having long left the Jehovah’s Witness stuff behind, now I quite enjoy the holiday season. My wife and I celebrate Christmas and I love it (I have a lot of missed holidays to make up for.) Not being particularly religious, my greeting to people I don’t know tends to be a generic “Happy Holidays.” I see an awful lot of news coverage of people getting quite irate over the use of “Happy Holidays”—whether they hear it from a store’s door-greeter or see it (either written out or implied, somehow) on holiday packaging or displays. A huge discussion about “taking the Christ out of Christmas” or “the War on Christmas” always results, but what I hear is this: “How dare you say a phrase that is inclusive of my holiday, but does not include only MY holiday! How DARE you!?”
I don’t get it. I mean, I really don’t get it.
First, as a user of The-Phrase-That-Apparently-Dare-Not-Be-Spoken, I happen to believe it covers everyone’s celebrations through the entire holiday season (including the new year). If someone wishes me a Merry Christmas, I wish that back to them (because obviously, it’s what they celebrate, and I genuinely want them to have a Merry-Whatever-They-Celebrate). If someone wished me a Happy Hanukkah or a Happy Kwanzaa, I’d smile and wish that back to them, as well. Personally, given that I don’t know what any given stranger celebrates, I figure “Happy Holidays” covers all bases and I feel good about that.
Second, my greeting is simply a lot more awesome. By simply saying “Merry Christmas,” you are only wishing me happiness through the 25th of December. With my “Happy Holidays,” Christians, I see your December 25th and raise you by SEVEN more days! And my greeting can even be retroactive back to Thanksgiving! Boom! That’s over a month’s worth of wishes for holiday cheer!
This idea that unless you’re using the phrase that only covers one holiday, you are disrespecting that holiday—it’s absurd. There’s room in this holiday season for everyone and the more the merrier! Isn’t sharing, love, compassion, and all that supposed to be the reason for the holiday season? That’s what Christ taught, right? (It’s been a while since I was forced to memorize scriptures, so you’ll have to refresh my memory; but I’m pretty sure He was pretty big on those things.)