Dec 22, 2005

merry happy holidays christmas

UPDATE: Since a few people seemed to have missed that a lot of this post is tongue-in-cheek, I thought I'd mention that up front.

I did some shopping this week and waited for IT... you know, for the person behind the counter to tell me "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas."

Except they didn't.

Everywhere I went I heard "Merry Christmas" from people who genuinely meant it.

Huh... who knew? Guess our boycotting of retailers has paid off. Now they will again allow associates to verbalize the birth of Jesus as they feed our distraction of materialism, eh?

So in case I never get my chance to convert a cashier with a snappy statement, here are the three I planned on using (but never got to) if someone said "Happy Holidays":

  • "Thanks. Which one are you celebrating this year?"

    "(insert cashier response here)"

    "Cool. We're doing Christmas to celebrate Jesus. So Merry Christmas!"

  • "And a Happy Holy-Days to you, too! Did you know, by the way, that's where the word 'holiday' comes from?"

  • "Hey - thanks for working hard and keeping up a great attitude. It really honors the heart of Jesus. That's what it's all about, right?"


(inserting tongue into cheek)

Maybe I just wasn't meant to "convert" anyone in line this year, eh? (wink) I guess I should just buy the t-shirt instead, eh?

"By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:35)


Josh Kirschner said...

I never understood this. Not everyone celebrate's Christmas. So am I supposed to assume everyone I come in contact with is a Christian and celebrates Christmas? I happen to be a Jew, so I celebrate Chanukah. I don't take offense when somenoe wishes me a "Merry Christmas", but why not cover all faiths with a blanket term like "Happy Holidays" instead of assuming everyone is celebrating the same thing you are? There are other holy days being celebrated at the same time, you realize.

Tony Myles said...

Good point. It boils down to, though, if you truly celebrate what you say you celebrate or if you'd rather take the approach of tolerance and indifference for the sake of the beliefs of others (that you don't hold).

That, I think, is the distinction.

Malls and stores are closed on December 25th and shut down early the night before. Even though this isn't necessarily Jesus' actual birth (many theologians cite Him being born in the fall), we instinctively give a tip of the hat to the Savior as a culture this time of year. I think the reaction of many Christians against retailers is that this has gotten lost in the attempt to not offend anyone.

And yet... those stores will still be closed on Christmas. Hmm...

I am more inclined to fight the battle of loving God and loving others everyday (and not just during this season) so that they might discover the Messiah - the Word made flesh - no matter what day it is.

Jill Williams said...

Firstly, retail stores are (or at least have the opportunity to be) closed on the 25th because it is a federal holiday here in the US. Now, before all the hysteria starts again about people saying "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas," we should remember that none of us is entitled to be wished a "happy" or "merry" anything by anybody. We should appreciate that people are kind enough to wish us well.

Hearing "Happy Holidays" from someone does not infringe on one's ability to have a "Merry Christmas." Nor does it negate, deny or oppress one's personal religious beliefs.

I can't understand why some individuals are so vehemently opposed to the issue of a generic holiday greeting. The reality is that not everyone celebrates Christmas! And that is a good thing because it proves that the gift of religious freedom is still giving.

We Americans are fortunate to have been given this gift. When we choose to accept it, we must also accept the responsibility of exercising tolerance for those with different religious beliefs. This tolerance includes not becoming irate when someone wishes you a "Happy Holiday" and not insisting everyone wish you a "Merry Christmas." It also includes not becoming irate when someone wishes you a "Merry Christmas" and not insisting everyone wish you a "Happy Holiday." The sentiment behind the words is more important than the words themselves.

I myself, wish a Merry Christmas to those who I KNOW celebrate Christmas (and a Happy Hanukah to those I KNOW celebrate it), but if I'm uncertain, I see nothing wrong with wishing someone a "Happy Holiday". That way I ensure that nobody leaves the conversation uncomfortable, in the least bit.

But according to some Christians, it IS offensive. I'd rather offend someone by not being specific to their holiday, than make an assumption and be wrong about someone's religious beliefs.

Again, it's the sentiment behind the words is more important than the words themselves

theoquest said...

How's this quote I got from a professor I had in seminary?

"Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all. I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2006, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere. And without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishee. By accepting these greetings you are accepting these terms. This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for herself or himself or others, and is void where prohibited by law and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher. This wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first, and warranty is limited to replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher."

Tony Myles said...

Jill -

You make some great points. And you're right - some businesses are closed because it's a federal holiday. Ironically, many of these stores are open on Martin Luther King's birthday, though... also a federal holiday.

Perhaps we should ask why it was ever a federal holiday to begin with? Why not make December 11 a federal holiday? Perhaps there's something inherently special about what the date recognizes... the entry of God into our world through human flesh.

Per your other points, it sounds like you have a great heart for others and what they believe. I have that heart, too, but I guess I am less defined by the country I live in and more concerned with what the big picture of eternity values. Therefore, my main purpose in life isn't to not offend others but to proclaim truth that flows out of my love for God and others... gently, and with respect. But not at the expense of truth.

All of that said, I hope you caught that some of my post was tongue in cheek. However, I am someone who believes in Jesus Christ as the one and only Savior and Messiah. If I soften that conviction in order to make others around me comfortable, I think I don't actually believe what I just said I do.

However... I'm not looking to cause a fight or make people feel bad for what they believe. I do my best to love others where they are while throwing out seeds of truth that they might inspire them to take a step towards Jesus (whatever that step may be).

So I wish you a Merry Christmas... and a Good Friday... and a Happy Easter.

Holidays that we can celebrate any day of the year because of what Jesus did, is doing, and will do for anyone who would believe and receive Him.

Now I gotta go... Zorro is on.

Michael said...

It seems this year so many people are making a really big deal out of all this Christmas stuff. I just dont think its a big deal at all. Im not a christian but I dont care if people wish me a Merry Christmas, My Christian friends dont care when I wished them a Happy Rohatsu(The Day Buddhists celebrate the Buddhas enlightment, on the 8th of Dec). So what is the big deal? I just really feel like a lot of people are making a really big fuss about nothing, its a non issue really.

The Cubicle Reverend said...

Is it just me or are people so uptight about every little thing? I thought we were all politically correct and such. Shows what I know. We are politically correct until it comes to matters of faith.

Tony Myles said...

Not to sound repetitive, but it's less about making everyone wishing you a Merry Christmas and more about being faithful to Christ beyond the religion we clothe ourselves with.

If the internal relationship is there, we will be as motivated to stick up for Jesus as we would someone who shoves a loved one or slanders a good friend. If political correctness is more important, though, I don't think religious people (on any level) who may happen to attend a Christian church may care as much.

I love my wife... I talk about her, praise her, and love her privately and publicly. The same is true for my boys and good friends - I look for ways to build them up and let others know how awesome they are.

The same is true with Jesus Christ. A rooted relationship with Him creates motivation, whereas a religion about whatever deity we've chosen creates (at best) obligation.

I don't feel obligated to say Merry Christmas and invite others to Jesus. I am inspired to... which is what (hopefully) allows me to do this in love.

In short, if I call myself a Christ-follower, why wouldn't I proclaim Jesus Christ as the One True Savior?

"I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed! Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division." - Jesus, Luke 12:49-51

Logan Bennett said...

Tony as always I love your thoughts, I do not think that it is such a big deal if we are trying to get others to say merry christmas, or happy Chanukah or happy holidays or whatever, but i think that it is more of a right to say what we believe, i will never ever let somebody tell me that i have to say happy holidays rather then merry christmas, if you want to say happy holidays then that is fine, if you want to say happy chanukah then fine, but i am not going to say those things to you just because that is what you believe, i do not believe those things, so i am not going to say them. I do not really care whose toes i step on if i say merry christmas, that is what i belive so that is what i am going to say. I am not going to get mad if you say something other then Merry Christmas, if that is what you celebrate, but i am not going to say anything otherwise.

Tony Myles said...

Thanks, Logan. Your comments actually triggered in me an awareness of what this is all about.

Here's what we're discussing here, folks... theology.

Going back to the Theology Discussion, it's less about what you say and more about why you say what you say.

For instance, maybe you say, "I won't make anyone say Merry Christmas..."

I'd ask this - "Why? What has formed this value in you?"

Or maybe you'd say, "Everywhere I go, I need to get others to say Merry Christmas." (Which, by the way, this isn't my position - read my comments for clarity)

I'd ask this again - "Why? What has formed this value in you?"

Have we become so mechanical in our reactions - whatever they are - that we don't know why we have them in the first place?

If you're a political Christian (yes, it's possible to be both), perhaps this is rooted less in Jesus and more in whatever email your recently received telling you what to boycott.


If you're not a Christian (yes, it's possible to be that, too), perhaps you're reacting to a limited exposure to the faith or a different set of beliefs all together. What is your mechanical reaction, and is it possible that this is triggered more by your culture than you think?


Some preach tolerance. Why? Why is this a value? What will it lead to at first... and then down the road? How far ahead have you thought this one through. Wouldn't a completely tolerant society be one without any laws? Seriously... how far down the road have you thought it through?

Some preach conversion. Why? To what? Your ideals... or your God? How far have you thought through how reacting to this issue, whether or not a church building is open on Sunday, or anything else can affect others? Is your faith more about your habits... or are your habits more about your faith?

Some food for thought, eh?

Now I gotta go... Zorro is on again.