Happy Holidays versus Merry Christmas. I don't understand why this is a thing that bothers people. There are a lot of things worth getting into an argument about, but this isn't one of them.
I celebrate Christmas and Jesus and all that stuff most people probably see as traditional in my part of the world. 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 Christmas music Christmas movies, and Christmas trivia.
I love Christmas so much that I even gave the holiday its landing page on this website. Yay Christmas!
Happy Holidays versus Merry Christmas. What I Think About This Great Debate
Merry Christmas versus Happy Holidays shouldn't even be a thing that we argue about. This season is supposed to be about joy and good cheer. There are so many things to divide us right now. Just pick one. How we greet each other in December shouldn't be something we have to take sides on.
I know people believe different things and celebrate differently. Most of my friends celebrate Christmas, although I have some friends who celebrate other holidays or don't celebrate anything at all during the traditional holiday season. 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.
So here's my Happy Holidays versus Merry Christmas Story:
Two years 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 officials, 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. Everything was merry and bright and all that good stuff.
Then 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” or “THERE'S AN INSECT IN MY SOUP.”
I was in the direction of the voice and saw a thirty-ish 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’?” His whole demeanor was…grinchy.
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.
Some people are determined to be unhappy. If that's you then find something legit to be unhappy about. This ain't it.
And, if you feel the need to fire back “Happy Holidays” with “Merry Christmas,” at least try not to sound like a jerk when you say it and expect someone who doesn't celebrate Christmas to share with you what they do celebrate. That's not festive or happy.
Don't make your holiday greeting a correction or a dig. That’s rude. Be thankful someone cared enough to greet you at all. What about all the people who you see in passing who say nothing to you or look away to avoid contact? Don’t waste that little moment of good cheer being a petulant killjoy.
My Takeaway – Find Something Else to Complain About. Not hard.
I do believe “Jesus is the reason for the season.” I also get that not everyone believes that, although I don't think wishing someone a Merry Christmas is an attempt to impose what I believe on someone else.
But I do have this to say:
If you're an outraged Christian who is correcting “Happy Holidays” – either in your outside voice or in your head – in the name of your faith, let me be the voice of sanity and tell you Jesus would not act like a jerk if you wished Him a happy holiday season.
If you want to complain about something this time of year, I have some suggestions for you: the crazy parking lot at the grocery store or the fact that the presents you ordered in late October still haven't shipped. Or, turn on the news. Something you dislike enough to be vocal about will present itself.
Don’t complain about the way someone wishes you happiness.
Smile, nod, and say, “You too.” Smile. And. Nod.
It’s not that difficult.