I participated in two separate discussions today about the holidays and the whole “Merry Christmas” thing. Most of my friends seem to think it’s a little bit dangerous to wish someone a Merry Christmas in this age of abundant political correctness. A survey of the “Holiday” cards I have received so far this year certainly indicates a hesitancy to mention Christmas. So who, exactly, are we tying to avoid offending?
I have heard a lot of cautionary tales about accidentally mentioning the word Christmas in a meeting, at the mall or on an elevator, but what I have not yet heard is a single person who admits to being offended by a Christmas greeting. I have a lot of Jewish friends, a few Hindu friends and a couple of Muslim friends. Never have I sensed any issues from them about the C word. In fact, some of them talk more about Christmas than I do. Again, where’s the problem we are trying so hard to avoid.
I certainly understand that we can’t have schools and governmental entities or even businesses promoting Christmas celebrations to the exclusion of other religious holidays. But who does that? No one I know. My daughters have been teaching me about menorahs and playing with dreidels lately- and it makes me so happy that their school and friends are teaching them about these wonderful and meaningful things. Kids have the “one world” thing down pat. I can only imagine the better world today’s children will create when they grow up. So, again, where’s the problem?
If I get card from someone wishing me happiness on a day that’s important to them, that makes me feel happy and honored. In fact, the holiday card I look forward to most of all each year is a holiday card from a Muslim friend of mine. I can’t read it because it’s in Arabic, but it always has the most beautiful pictures on it. It makes me profoundly happy that my friend sends it to me, and I keep it long after the others have been recycled. I would be sad if that card didn’t come. To be upset that it did is incomprehensible and heartbreaking to me.
Christmas is going to happen, just like July 4th and Elvis’s birthday. How you feel about any of them depends on your personal beliefs (“I don’t work January the 8th, ’cause it’s Elvis’ birthday”– name that movie for extra credit). But if someone who believes Christmas is a special day wants to send a nice card to someone they care about, why would that ever be offensive.
Maybe I’m wrong (it wouldn’t be the first time), but I just don’t think that anyone would be offended by a Merry Christmas wish. I hope not, because that would make me almost as sad as I would be if no one wished me a Happy Hanukkah or a Happy Ramadan. If someone wishes you peace and happiness, that’s a blessing.
So Merry Christmas. Happy Hanukkah. Happy Bodhi Day. Happy Kwanzaa. Happy Boxing Day. It’s the merry and happy that matters.