Yule tide is upon us again, a time of gifts, merriment, and stress. The American Psychology Association found that 8/10 Americans anticipate stress over the holidays (apa.org). Not that we need a study to tell us this. Sadly too much stress makes us moody and argumentative. There is one pointless argument I hear every year, and I’m asking you to help me end it.
Here’s a familiar scenario:
On a snowy street corner a smiling stranger wishes a passerby “Merry Christmas” only to be met with an icy “Happy Holidays” as the stranger sneers and rolls their eyes in disgust. Our hero's smile vanishes and is replaced, for the rest of the day, with resentment towards the “secularization” of their beloved Christmas. This is a sad scenario, but to be honest I have never met a person who got angry that I wished them a Merry Christmas. I’m certain it happens, but it has never happened to me.
I have seen Christians get angry about being wished a “Happy Holiday.” No year goes by that I don’t hear rants, sermons, and tantrums about how the word "Holiday". Whether it is a politician, an advertisement, or a relative someone will provide an excuse to complain that “Christmas” is being replaced by “Holiday.” This complaint is not helpful. It does not spark encouraging discussions or begin any argument worth having. I would rather hear a pagan solstice hymn than another complaint about how folks are greeting one another incorrectly.
By all means please keep the true meaning of Christmas alive. This is the perfect season to remember that Jesus said, “Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (Matt 5:39) Now if we can respond lovingly when evil people hit us, I’m confidant that we can respond lovingly when nice people wish us a “Happy Holiday.”
Here’s a neat idea if you feel strongly about wishing Merry Christmas, “Do everything without complaining or arguing” (Phil 2:14) Correcting people about their greeting is argumentative. Talking to other Christians about it is complaining. Please turn the other cheek, wish the Holiday Heretic a Merry Christmas, and praise God for the opportunity to love them. We’re not winning any hearts by carrying this argument any further.