On Wishing You a Merry Christmas

When I worked at the front desk at Amaze Entertainment, we would celebrate the joy of the season as only a video game company could. There was a HUGE tree an arm's reach from where I sat. Bushy green garlands decked with bright red ribbons and lights adorned the mantle of my desk. Christmas music played from my Mac. And when guests or employees walked through the front door, I would greet them with a sincere "Merry Christmas!"

My "Merry Christmas" had gusto.

Until one of my fellow employees, after hearing me bequeath my good cheer, approached my desk in an attitude much vexed.

"Happy Holidays," she said, but didn't seem too happy.

"To you, too!" I said.

"No," she said. "You should say, 'Happy Holidays',  not 'Merry Christmas.' Not everyone celebrates Christmas. I'm Jewish. You should be more sensitive to others' religious preferences."

I nodded, a bit of the gleam gone out of my tinsel, and she went on her way.

After that, I tried to wish everyone a 'happy holidays' instead, but sometimes a Merry Christmas just burst out of me.

I've thought of that exchange many times since then, trying to decide why it doesn't seem to sit well with me; and I've decided that I think that being offended by someone wishing you a Merry Christmas is silly. Even if you aren't Christian.

Merry Christmas is an exclamation of goodwill. It is a happy offering of shared joy in something bigger than the menial day-to-day. It is meant in the spirit of friendship. Not of passive-aggressiveness or loaded implications.

And, more to the point, I am Christian. So how can my saying Merry Christmas be interpreted as inappropriate or closed minded? I wouldn't be offended if someone were to wish me a Happy Hanukkah. I wouldn't mind wishing the wisher a Happy Hanukkah right back.

And if this fear is derived from bringing religion into the workplace, may I just say? relax. By wishing you a Merry Christmas, I'm not suggesting that my beliefs are superior to yours or that I assume everyone believes the way I do. I'm just wishing you a Merry Christmas.

Because I'm feeling it.

It's a sweet feeling.

One that I think should be shared.


Merry Christmas!

Eleven days.

Are you ready?


sharon. said...

Could not agree more!!!!

qbnimport said...

Disagree. I said Merry Christmas to a Jewish woman once and to a Muslim couple another time. Both times, I realized how insensitive it was on my part because I wasn't even considering whether the other person celebrated Christmas or not. Both times the other people responded in a way that confirmed what I was feeling. I never want to make anyone feel umcomfortable. It is more Christian to be sensitive than it is to blurt out a Merry Christmas. I've noticed that Christians are the ones who are the most offended by saying Happy Holidays and that's a shame. I Cor. says that love is patient, kind and not easily offended. So it's biblical to be sensitive and not offended. Why are Christians so inappropriate, insensitive and offended? No Jew has ever said Happy Hanukkah to me because they know I don't celebrate Hanukkah per se. No Muslim has ever wished me a happy Ramadan for the same reason. They are all more kind and sensitive than we are. What does that say about our "faith," when what we really care about is being right?

Jeff and Ari said...

I agree with you Stepper, completely. It's something I often want to tell people. And I would be delighted if someone wished me a "happy" different celebration. If Landon is ever invited to a Hanukkah party he is absolutely allowed to go. I wasn't raised in Utah and was constantly surrounded by different religions. I believe being exposed to them as well as getting to participate in their celebrations, etc. made me a more rounded person. Now, when I send out gifts around the holidays in the name of my company I always use "Happy Holidays" because I am representing a larger group to an even larger group of individuals and "political correctness" is all the rage amongst them. But as an individual? Merry Christmas from me. Or an occasional Happy Hanukkah to our Jewish families. Why not? Just passing on the holiday cheer!

Charms said...

Word. Why are some people so easily offended? MERRY CHRISTMAS Stepper!!! :)