Merry Christmas! Please Don't Be Offended
I love this time of year.
The smell of fir trees and festive decorations, the street carolers and bell ringers, the shopping for presents and planning for family gatherings, everyone is in a good mood—well, most of the time—and people just seem to be a little friendlier. It also brings back memories of hearing those two special words spoken as both a greeting and a farewell— “Merry Christmas!”
This may sound strange coming from someone who never had a Christmas tree, never went to midnight mass, and never strung up Christmas lights outside of the family home. Instead, my family went to the movies and dined out for Chinese food on December 25th. That’s right, I grew up in a Jewish household yet I still miss hearing those words which are, as many Christians say, “the reason for the season.”
Why doesn’t everyone say “Merry Christmas” anymore?
On a daily basis, our kids are exposed to plenty of nudity, violence, overt sexuality and obscene language—and that’s just on billboards and buses on their way to school. Video games and TV take care of the rest. So, how can those two words be any more damaging than that?!
Last night, I went with my husband to pick up something at Costco. As we completed our purchase at the register, the saleswoman thanked my husband and said, “Happy Holidays” to which he promptly replied “Merry Christmas.” The woman stopped in her tracks, looked up and smiled warmly, and with an evident sigh of relief responded: “Merry Christmas to you!” It was clear to both of us that she was happy to get the queue, but was she afraid to say it first? Was she actually fearful she’d lose her job if she said “Merry Christmas”? Could it be company policy designed to “not offend anyone”—as if anyone should be offended?
The incident made me reflect upon the state of our nation today and the fact that too many people walk around on eggshells, always in fear of saying the ‘wrong thing’ lest someone get upset and maybe sue them. Our economy is in shambles, people are out of work, public education is failing, and the people are being divided--and we should embrace every opportunity that brings us together as a country. E pluribus unum still has meaning.
So, next time you walk past the colorful storefronts with decorations and wreaths and want to greet someone on the street, don’t be shy. It still comes down to celebrating one holiday, and that’s Christmas. Of course, people celebrate differently and believe in different religions, which is great. But this festive time of year belongs primarily to one holiday that some of us are becoming increasingly reluctant to acknowledge. It’s the reason Christmas Day is a national holiday—which, by the way, is also a word that might offend someone if they consider its origin. Get over it.
I don’t think we should pretend otherwise, and I’m determined to say “Merry Christmas” as many times as possible this year.