Happy Christmas and a Merry New Year

“I never really did Christmas before. Christmas Day? I mean – what’s that? What’s it all about? I was always flying on Christmas Day.” –Monica Seles

Perhaps I am only naive, but I’ve never quite understood why people who celebrate Christmas bear arms whenever people say “Happy Holidays”, or why people who don’t celebrate it for religious or personal reasons cry foul when they are told to have a “Merry Christmas” anyway. From my experience, people don’t act this way over holidays like Thanksgiving or Independence Day. When an American tells a European to have a “Happy Thanksgiving”, the response is simply “Oh… well, Thanksgiving isn’t really a holiday over here, but hey, thanks for the sentiment.” But when a Wal-Mart cashier tells a customer to have “Happy Holidays”, the customer is ready to bash his head in with an umbrella.

Why!? It’s nothing more than an argument over semantics! We might as well wage civil war over the usage of prepositions at the ends of sentences. Actually, I’d like to see the propaganda posters for THAT.

When I was in school, the word “Holidays” for me didn’t merely mean Christmas or December. It referred to everything from October 1st to January 2nd. That included the County Fair, Thanksgiving, Veterans Day, Pearl Harbor Day, New Year’s Eve, and even obscure holidays like Chocolate Day, National Poetry Day and Beethoven’s (and Jane Austen’s) birthday. When people said “Happy Holidays” to me, it simply meant “Have a happy three months full of fun, excitement and vacation days.”, to which I would reply, “You bet!”

But, of course, I’m in the habit of saying “Merry Christmas’ as well, typically before Christmas vacation, or better yet, before the day itself. Certainly I don’t say this to impose my views upon anyone else. All I mean to say is, “Whatever you happen to be doing this week of the twenty-fifth, I hope it’s merry nonetheless.” and that’s all the phrase really means if one thinks about it long enough. I could just as easily say “Merry Tuesday”, and certainly no one would take offense for that. For instance, I am morally opposed to Halloween, but whenever someone innocently slips and tells me to have a happy one, I take it to mean “Whatever you’re doing October 31st, make it happy.”, to which I shrug and reply, “Sure.”.

Now, keep in mind that I am a Christian and I love the idea of Christmas. I just feel that it has been sorely misrepresented in today’s culture and by its own community. God tells us to “[g]o ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15), but it’s difficult to do that when we’re ready to rip each other apart over insistent terminology. When a sinner comes to know Jesus as his Lord and Savior, He takes him as he is, but we treat Christmas as some sort of exclusive club with our own code, our own secret handshakes and our own inexplicable, unshakable customs. No, we don’t want to compromise our faith, but the Christmas holiday was never built on faith to begin with. It was built on converting pagans to Christianity through compromise. What’s the point of “keeping CHRIST in CHRISTmas” if we don’t invite Him in from the outset?

When we spit venom over the usage of “Happy Holidays”, “Seasons Greetings”, or even the “X-Mas” shorthand, are we showing Christ through us, or are we simply showing our own pet peeves and determination? There is nothing wrong with good intentions, but it will all be “…wood, hay and stubble,” (1 Corinthians 3:12-13) if it doesn’t glorify the Lord.

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