There’s a lot of Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays debate going on, if you haven’t noticed.
A lot of people say “Let’s put the Christ back in Christmas” or “Jesus is the reason for the season” or “Happy Holidays won’t offend people” or something along that line that’s been fed to them by friends and media and marketing. Maybe that’s what they really do want, and that’s fine, but I feel as though this new ideology (like much that’s supposed to be P.C. these days) has been brought on with the dawn of the internet, specifically social media. Think about how rapidly things have changed from the mid-90’s, when people were just discovering The World Wide Web. It’s different. Very different. In any case:
1) I don’t care what your religious beliefs are or aren’t. If you want to go to mass on Saturdays, temple on Sundays, and go out to the forest with your Wiccan group on Tuesdays, you do it. Have a great time. Just don’t be a jerk about it.
2) If you want to say “Merry Christmas”, or “Happy Holidays” or “Have a lovely Thursday”, well… same to you, buddy. You do realize that it’s the thought that counts here, right? You’re sharing the joy that you feel because there’s a chill in the air and later tonight you’re probably curling up with a cup of coca and a good book. You’re going to hang with your friends or your family (if you’re lucky, that’s the same thing), and you want to share your happiness with others. Thank you.
3) If your religious beliefs don’t allow you to celebrate holidays, or if you want to sit at home and steep in your own bitter hate, or if you want to go build a snow fort covered in goat blood, GO FOR IT. Or don’t . Whatever. Who am I to tell you that’s not right? Of course it’s right – FOR YOU. You are not me and I am not you, and that’s fine. You know when it’s not fine?
4) …it’s not fine when you guilt me (and everyone else) into being one of the Kringles. What’s that? You didn’t buy presents for every single person you know? You don’t want to do Secret Santa at work? You didn’t spend hours choosing out a Christmas card with deep meaning and writing a special note inside to go with all those presents? You aren’t even going to wear a holiday sweater?!?! WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU!?!?!
Look. I don’t want to. Is that okay with you? Because it’s okay with me, and that’s just how it is. Give me the aforementioned cup of hot cocoa and good book, and I’m a happy camper. Yes, I will probably bake something or paint something, because that makes me happy, but please don’t make me feel worse that I don’t have money to buy presents just because it’s Present Buying Time. Not to mention that people don’t want crappy gifts. They don’t want the gift basket from Bed Bath & Beyond. They want the gift basket from Bass Pro Shop or Dior. Don’t lie if you say that’s not what Christmas is about, because you know if you woke up on Christmas morning expecting presents and the only thing in your living room was a nativity scene, you’d be sad. And kind of cranky.
So here’s what it comes back to: it should not be offensive to say either Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays, because it’s the thought that counts. It’s like saying “Have a nice day”. There are some people out there who are seriously wishing that other person a Merry Christmas (or a Happy Holiday), and that’s thoughtful of them. There are a larger group of people who only say a greeting as a reflex, and a large group of *those* people who would rather just not say anything at all but don’t want to look like an asshole.
I personally say “Have a great holiday”, and here’s the primary reason why.
I work in customer service at a marina with hundreds of tenants. At the beginning of each month is when most of my tenants stop by or call in. Once we get to the second week of the month, people are already starting in on the greetings, which is nice. The majority of the people are done with walk-ins/call-ins by the second week though, and it won’t be until the first week of January that I’ll hear from them again.
I’ll talk to people every day, of course, but it will definitely taper off as they prepare to go wherever they’re going or do whatever they’re doing. This is just a majority thing.
While most of my customers are lovely people who I *do* genuinely want to wish a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and Festive Good Day, I also don’t always want to spend a lot of time getting off of the phone (where most of the interaction happens). Saying “Have a Merry Christmas and a great New Year” takes kind of long when you’re trying to keep things short, and tends to turn into “Have a Merry Christmas and a Great New Year and a Happy 2012 and see you next year and …all that stuff…”. It’s become some lingering awkwardness. Maybe that’s just me, but I don’t do well with ending conversations. It’s a bit different in person, but personally I just say “same to you” if someone wishes me a festive greeting.
So. It’s easier for me to just say “Happy holidays!” or “have a great holiday season!”, because that sums everything up and is brief. It’s nice. If they don’t celebrate any particular holiday, they can take it as “have a good time relaxing”, like how when Brits go on holiday and all that sort of thing.
And if they don’t want to relax or hear any of it, they can go directly to hell.
Have a nice day.