I’ve never once had anyone take offense to me saying Merry Christmas, but if I say Happy Holidays, I am met with dirty looks or eye rolling, or accusations that I’m trying to cover up Christmas or deny Christ.
I’ve received the response “Happy Holidays? Well, what holiday do you think this is? The holiday is Christmas, so why don’t you just say Merry Christmas?”
OK. But if there truly were no other holidays this time of year, would you be offended at all, then, by the term Happy Holidays? I doubt it. It seems there is an underlying feeling of non-Christians-are-taking-over-our -holiday defensiveness. Well it’s a wide, wide world, and I think there’s room enough for all. Wasn’t that part of Jesus’ message anyway? (And Christians didn’t exactly invent celebrating holidays in the winter, but I’ll let the History Channel handle that topic.)
When I say Happy Holidays, I mean just that. I am wishing you well for all four weeks of Advent and for all 12 days of Christmas. I am also sending you greetings for all 8 days of Hanukah. If Kwanza is your holiday, then I wish you a great one. If you have no religious affiliation, then I am wishing you well in your secular celebration of the season.
In case anyone thinks I’m being sacrilegious or disrespectful to Christianity, I will clarify that Christmas is the holiday I celebrate. I have no shame in saying so. And, for the record, I am still celebrating it.
Growing up Catholic in New Orleans, I was fortunate enough to gain a pretty good understanding of the holidays I celebrated. I knew that Advent was the four weeks leading up to Christmas. I learned that Christmas Day was not even one of the 12 days of Christmas, and that Christmas didn’t end until Carnival season began – on January 6 – the night we celebrate the three kings presenting the baby Jesus with gifts; and if you’re in New Orleans, it’s the night you buy the first king cake of the Mardi Gras season and find a hidden baby Jesus inside.
Well, in Florida I will have no king cake, but that’s OK. I will still be celebrating Christmas until January 6, with my tree and lights still on display, and maybe even a little Christmas music one last time. And I’m sure when I tell people Merry Christmas this weekend, I will surely get a puzzled look, and someone will say “Christmas is over. Don’t you mean Happy New Year?”
Well, sure. That’s one of those happy holidays too.