I’m a Christian. I celebrate Christmas — although in the interest of full disclosure, it’s been awhile since I’ve been to church. I believe Jesus is the reason for the season and all that stuff. I also believe Christmas is a time to relax, reflect, and enjoy. I believe in Santa, magic reindeer, and eating lots of cookies and tamales. I love Christmas lights and Christmas music and Christmas movies, and I guarantee that I’ll kick your butt at Christmas trivia.
I love the general feeling of well-being and good cheer that happens this time of year, and yes, we all wish people were full of good cheer all year ‘round instead of full of something else, but it is what it is. Christmas just has that special way of bringing out the good in people.
Well, most people.
I know people believe different things and celebrate differently. Most of my friends celebrate Christmas, although I have some friends who celebrate Hanukkah. To the best of my knowledge, I don’t know anyone who celebrates Kwanzaa or Winter Solstice, but I think celebrations in general are good things and I try to teach my kids that people celebrate different things this time of year. Christmas happens to be our thing. If you don’t celebrate something — your loss, your choice.
A couple of weeks ago, my family and I went to the holiday parade in our small town. The local feed store and the city council people drove their “floats” by and threw candy at the kids. There were Girl Scouts, churches, and other community organizations. We saw our vet and our dentist. We saw the mayor, various city council people and political hopefuls wearing Santa hats waving and smiling. It was fun and a little bit hokey.
A flatbed of kids waving, smiling, and shouting “Happy Holidays” rolled past. I think they were one of the scouting groups but I'm not sure. We smiled and waved back. I mean … they were throwing mini Butterfinger bars. Of course we smiled and waved.
The guy standing next to me on the street shouted “MERRY CHRISTMAS!”
Nothing wrong with that, you might think, except people don't usually say “Merry Christmas” in the same tone they'd use to say “GET OFF MY LAWN.”
I in the direction of the voice and saw a thirtyish man scowling like someone peed in his Cheerios, shaking his head and muttering under his breath, “Why the heck are people saying ‘Happy Holidays’? What’s wrong with ‘Merry Christmas’?”
Nothing is wrong with “Merry Christmas.” Nothing is wrong with “Happy Holidays,” “Season’s Greetings,” “Joyous Yuletide,” or whatever else people might say to each other in December. Nothing is wrong with any of those things.
“Happy Holidays” means “Have a Happy Flipping Holiday.” Don’t read into it. Smile and nod. Smile and wave. Try saying “Thanks!” or even “Hey, you too!” Why does this have to be adversarial?
Don’t be that guy who was grumbling (in front of his kids and mine) about the fact that a youth group was shouting “Happy Holidays.” It isn’t nice. It’s downright grinchy. Seriously, aren’t there more legit things you can complain about than that?
If you want to respond to “Happy Holidays” with “Merry Christmas,” go right ahead but try not to sound like a jerk when doing it, m’kay? Don’t try to force someone into issuing the greeting of the holiday YOU celebrate. Don’t make your holiday greeting a correction. That’s rude. Be thankful they greeted you at all. Think of all the people who you see in passing who say nothing to you, scowl at you, or avert their eyes because they don’t want to interact with you. Don’t waste that little moment of good cheer being a petulant killjoy.
I didn’t engage with this guy at the parade. I looked away, edged a little further down the sidewalk, and focused on my kids who were having a great time. I didn’t encourage him to expand on his dislike of “Happy Holidays,” but if I did, I bet he would say something like, “We need to keep Christ in Christmas.” I don’t think taking “Christ” out of “Christmas” is on the table because that would be just silly. I haven’t had anyone wish me a “Merry Mas,” but if someone did, I’d smile and nod and return the greeting or just say, “Thanks, you too.”
And, although I believe in the whole “Jesus is the reason” idea, not everyone believes that and I'd never try to ram what I believe down someone's throat. And for all of you outraged Christians out there who are correcting “Happy Holidays” in the name of your faith, ask yourself if Jesus would be acting like that. Pretty sure He would be gracious about “Happy Holidays.” Just sayin'.
I’ve heard rumblings and rumors about the holiday wars and I didn’t want to believe it. I thought it was just something people on social media with too much time on their hands were talking about. But I saw it. I heard it.
If you want to complain about something this time of year, complain about the crazy parking lot at the mall or the fact that the presents you ordered in late November still haven't been delivered. Don’t complain about the way someone wishes you happiness. That’s just lame.
Smile, nod, and say, “You too.” Smile. And. Nod.
It’s not that difficult.