It’s that time of year again. The debate has begun. How do you respond when someone wishes you Happy Holidays? Or Merry Christmas? Or Happy Hanukkah? Or Happy Kwanza? About the only greeting that seems to be safe is Happy New Year, but that can only be used for a few days at the very end of the month. So for the next three weeks the controversy continues.
I don’t know about you, but I’m over it! For years, Happy Holidays was an acceptable greeting used from Thanksgiving to New Years, but then someone decided that Happy Holidays created an assault on Christmas. For the past couple of years, I’ve avoided the problem by just telling store clerks and other strangers to have a nice day, ignoring the fact that it’s the holiday season; but not this year! Instead, I’ll greet people however the spirit moves me.
At church, I’ll certainly say Merry Christmas. When speaking to most friends, I’ll say Merry Christmas as well, but to those I know are Jewish, I may revert to Happy Holidays or perhaps even Happy Hanukkah. Then when I’m speaking to my students or those I meet in public places, it will certainly be Happy Holidays. The most important part of this greeting is sincerity and a smile. The words are secondary. By recognizing that there are many holidays important to different segments of the population, you are simply being respectful. When you say “Happy Holidays”, you are not waging a war on Christmas. However, if your joy and excitement leads you to say “Merry Christmas”, that’s fine too. You only intend to wish good will and happiness to others.
The words, “Happy Hanukkah” or “Happy Kwanza” certainly won’t ruin my day. In fact, they may bring an even bigger smile to my face because I’m sure I’ll be caught off guard.
If you’re unfortunate enough to be admonished by someone offended by your more generic Happy Holidays greeting, just smile and wish him or her a good day. After all, Christmas is love; and anyone offended by your kind words doesn’t really get the meaning of the holiday.
Happy Holidays! And Merry Christmas!