We are now fully in the Christmas season. The stores are stocked with toys, candy, and lights, the weather is snippy, and the smells of hot cocoa and fresh baked pastries are in the air. Our excitement grows as we anticipate the arrival of snow, the smiles we’ll receive when our gifts to friends and family are opened, and the fuzzy warmth of cuddling up in front of the fire.
Unfortunately, not everything about this season is fuzzy and warm-hearted. It seems that even such a widely cherished time cannot escape the grip of political-correctness. According to the political police, calls of “Merry Christmas” are offensive and should be replaced with such greetings as “Happy Holidays,” “Seasons Greetings,” or “Happy X-mas.”
But for Christians, it’s offensive that people would try to erase Jesus from this season. It’s His birthday, He shouldn’t be kicked out! In our zealousness to defend the honor of our Savior, we can come to the conclusion that saying anything but “Merry Christmas” is wrong. But maybe there’s more to cherishing Christmas than that.
A few years back, I was out shopping for Christmas. Probably to find the perfect gift for my dad, I don’t remember. But what I do remember is that while I was doing that, another shopper happened to catch my eye. The lady smiled and said, “Happy Holidays!” as she walked by. Without a thought I called back, “Happy Holidays!” Instantly, I felt guilty.
But what if I didn’t have to feel guilty about that? What if it’s okay to say “Happy Holidays”?
“Happy Holidays” Does Fit
There are a few holidays this time of year: Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Years Day, National Apple Pie day . . . you get the point. Christmas is by far the biggest holiday, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s not the only one. “Happy Holidays” is totally accurate. Oh, and did you know that ‘holiday’ actually means holy-day? The very idea of holidays is not secular, but comes from the Bible. God himself instituted the very first holiday: the Sabbath.
Greeting People is Nice
Often when people say “Happy Holidays,” they aren’t trying to pick a fight with you. They’re just trying to be nice. Kindness, politeness, and basic niceness are unfortunately lacking in general, and need to be encouraged. Whenever someone tells you “Happy Holidays” smile back. And even if they were saying it to annoy you, always remember that you don’t have to be rude in return. Smile and say, “Merry Christmas to you too!” Don’t let them steal your holiday cheer.
We Have Freedom of Speech
In this country we have been blessed with many freedoms. One of them is the freedom of speech. That means we have freedom to say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays.” The government doesn’t dictate what we can or can’t say. We can’t tell others they aren’t allowed to say something, though it can be very frustrating at times. But if they didn’t have that freedom, we wouldn’t either. You get what you give.
When Your Job’s on The Line
Some stores and chain restaurants are so afraid of offending people by saying “Merry Christmas” that they tell their employees they have to say “Happy Holidays.” It’s sad because some their employees are offended by not being able to say “Merry Christmas.” Next time you go to the grocery store and the clerk says “Happy Holidays” instead of Merry Christmas,” don’t be offended. They may be just as frustrated as you.
Christmas is About Love
Since that day when I was shopping and said “Happy Holidays,” I’ve learned that I didn’t have to feel guilty. You see Christmas is about goodwill (Luke 2:14). It’s about being kind to, and thinking the best of, people. It’s about forgiveness. God became a human because He loved us, and He wanted to save us from our sins (John 3:16). He wanted to forgive us and have a personal relationship with us.
God calls us to show that same love to others. And when we choose not to make a big deal about the specifics, whether people say “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Christmas,” and spread some love instead, we make an even bigger statement about what this season is really about.
It’s about Jesus.
May your holidays be happy as you remember that every good gift, even Christmas itself, comes from God. Merry Christmas!