There’s a lot of media frenzy surrounding Christmas. You’ve got some people offended by the use of “Happy Holidays,” because obviously that is a “War on Christmas” catch-phrase. Then you have some atheists screaming that “Merry Christmas” is offensive because obviously anyone who wishes them a Merry Christmas is trying to convert them or otherwise shove religion down their throat.
But those are the outliers. Most of us are in the middle, and recognize that people exchange these greetings as a way of wishing you good will, not for any other nefarious reason. I have often been wished a Merry Christmas, but I have also been wished a Happy Hanukkah (because many, if not most, Ganses in America are Jewish). I accept both with a “Thank you,” because I know that person is simply wishing me well. Happy Holidays does not bother me, nor would Happy Kwanzaa, because I know it comes from a good place.
I of course send Hanukkah cards to my Jewish friends, because I respect their religion as they do mine, but in my world, the spirit of Christmas is inclusive. Perhaps that is not orthodox doctrine, but I have my own ideas on religion. Christmas has always been my favorite holiday, and not because of the presents and music and decorations (although they’re nice, too!). It’s because I have always felt a harmony with other people during the Christmas season, a peace inside myself that I don’t often feel the rest of the year.
To me, Christmas is not about one religion. It’s about “Peace on Earth and good will toward men.” Note that the saying does not specify Christian countries only, or only Christian worshipers. I want all of us to have peace. I want all of us to share in good will and good fortune. My spirit of Christmas is inclusive, because in my eyes it is not truly the Christmas spirit if you leave anyone out in the cold.
I have been trying to teach my 4-year-old that Christmas is not about presents, but about bringing joy to other people. I honestly believe that. So when I wish someone a Merry Christmas, what I mean is, “I wish you and yours joy and health and love.”
So when someone wishes me Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays or Happy Hanukkah or Happy/Merry Anything Else, I take it as it was meant—and I hope you will, too. It sure makes for a brighter and happier holiday season.
So, Merry Christmas from my family to yours, and may your New Year be happy and healthy!