December 5, 2013

Happy Holidays! (Did I just say that out loud?)

I can feel icicles being thrown telepathically in my direction.

“Did she just say ‘Happy Holidays?’ Why doesn't she say ‘Merry Christmas?! She’s trying to take ‘CHRIST’ out of ‘CHRISTmas!’ She might as well have said ‘Merry Xmas!’ Doesn't she know that Jesus is the reason for the season?! She probably believes in Santa or something. Santa is just another way to spell ‘Satan,’ you know.”

Now, before you get your Christmas stockings in a bunch, and before you buy me a “Happy Holidays is what Liberals say” coffee mug, hear me out. (And as you can see, those coffee mugs really do exist.)

Photo from Buzz Feed.

Apparently, there are two kinds of people in this world: those who say “Merry Christmas,” and those who don’t. And over the past couple of years, this has become not only an issue, but an all out war. Just ask Fox News.

Photo from Fox News.

Now, I am a “Merry Christmas” kind of gal. I will nine times out of ten say “Merry Christmas” to those I am greeting during this festive time of year. However, there are a few reasons why I believe “Happy Holidays” is still a perfectly acceptable phrase, and why it’s not going to disable you from celebrating the true meaning of Christmas or pee in your punch bowl.

#1. Saying “Happy Holidays” is efficient. It’s an easy way to group the multiple holidays we celebrate during these couple of months. I mean, we could always write “Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, Happy New Years, and Blessed Epiphany” on the cards we send out, or we could sum it up with a simple “Happy Holidays.” I love efficiency. I thank my dad for that trait.

#2. Not everyone celebrates Christmas. Maybe there are a few Christians not celebrating Christmas because they are wrapping up Hanukkah right about now, or because of the pagan roots of Christmas, or because it’s possible Jesus wasn't even born during this time of year. In these cases it’s not a matter of being politically correct or making sure people know that Jesus is the reason for the season. It’s a matter of not wasting our breath on a greeting that technically only refers to December 25 and doesn't apply to everyone.

#3. Saying “Happy Holidays” does not take “CHRIST” out of “CHRISTMAS.” Commercialism and materialism and probably a few other “isms” do. Now, I thoroughly enjoy a lot of nonsense that has nothing to do with Christmas, like getting good deals, opening presents, and eating way too many peanut butter balls. But let’s be honest, those things have nothing to do with our Savior humbling himself and coming to this earth as a baby born of a virgin. So when we get upset when the nice cashier lady at JC Penney doesn't say “Merry Christmas” as we’re buying way too many knit sweaters, new gadgets, and ugly patterned socks with individual toes for our kids, maybe we need to take the ginormous piece of tinsel out of our own eye first. And besides, not every store can be our beloved Hobby Lobby. And I can guess most of us aren't doing all of our gift shopping there.

#4. Bing Crosby. “Happy Holidays.” Enough said.

#5. We shouldn't be surprised when certain people don’t want to say “Merry Christmas.” Yes, there are people who say “Happy Holidays” to accommodate to all religions, cultures, political fancies, etc. My question is, why does this bother us as Christians? Why are we so surprised that other people who don’t celebrate Christmas or who don’t believe in Jesus, are not using a phrase that proclaims His name? There is quite a disconnect here. Yes, it does make sense that in the overlap of those who celebrate the true meaning of Christmas and those who believe in Christ use the phrase “Merry Christmas.” But for the people who don’t fall into those circles on the Holiday Greetings Venn Diagram, we shouldn't be so surprised.

This trickles into other areas as well: public schools not allowing religious songs to be sung in their “Winter Festival” programs, public figures trying to accommodate to all religions and cultures, etc. Why are we so surprised? We aren't worshiping the same God. We aren't guided by the same Spirit. This is a big political issue, but even before it is a political issue, it’s an issue of the heart. And hearts without Christ in it are not going to give two candy canes about whether or not they are glorifying Him in their greetings and holiday celebrating.

So to make my Christmas wishes come true this year, I beg the “Happy Holiday” Haters to consider the following:

1. Stop being shocked and offended when other people who don’t believe in Christ, who don’t celebrate the true meaning of Christmas, or who simply don’t celebrate Christmas at all, aren't saying “Merry Christmas” to you.

2. Do continue to spread holiday cheer and joy that will last more than the months of November, December, and January. But instead of focusing on sharing a specific greeting, focus on sharing the story and the Christ inside of that greeting.

3. And for heaven’s sake, be kind to the nice cashier lady at JC Penney. She has been working horrible hours since we all began stampeding their stores on Black Friday.

Grace and Peace,

PS. We’re coming home! December 14-25 we will be traveling through Wisconsin, Iowa, and South Dakota. December 26-January 4 we will be in Michigan. We can’t wait to see you!