By Clare McGreevy
The holiday season has finally arrived, bringing back those cheesy commercials about the “It’s OK to Say Merry Christmas to Me!” buttons. While they do provide some holiday cheer, albeit mostly as comic relief for me and my siblings, these commercials are based on a woefully misguided premise. Why isn’t it okay to say “merry Christmas” to everyone? Why is it that greeting strangers with holiday-specific well-wishings has turned into a contentious issue of political correctness?
As a Christian, I may be a bit biased on this issue. After all, I don’t know what it feels like to have another group’s holiday shoved in my face for an entire month. It must feel truly inescapable and maybe a little bit suffocating for some. But it is important to remember that holiday well-wishings are just what they’re called: well-wishings.
December is a time in which community ties are stronger than ever, regardless of religious affiliation. It’s hard to escape the joy and good cheer of the holidays — and that’s a good thing. When someone wishes you a “merry Christmas,” or a “Happy Hanukkah,” they’re wishing you happiness during the holiday season. My family does not celebrate Hanukkah, but I wouldn’t be offended if someone were to wish me a “Happy Hanukkah.” I think it’s nice that people want to wish me happiness during the holiday season.
Some argue that refusal to say “merry Christmas” is part of a so-called “War on Christmas.” This, too, is ridiculous. There’s nothing wrong with a nice, religion-neutral “Happy Holidays.” In fact, I find the phrase “Happy Holidays” to be the friendliest of all holiday greetings. This is the most inclusive of all sayings, covering everything, including New Years. Greeting people with “Happy Holidays” instead of “merry Christmas” is perfectly fine.
Although I believe that it is entirely ill-founded to get angry when someone greets you with the “wrong” holiday salutation, many people get legitimately offended by this. I respect the attempts to appease everyone by those who have switched to a full-time “Happy Holidays.” Going around saying “merry Christmas” just to offend people who we don’t agree with is childish and petty.
There are a lot of people who simply do not care to worry that much about the politics of holiday greetings, including myself. The entire debate is pointless. There should be no political or social ostracism of anyone on the basis of choice of holiday greetings. People should be able to say whatever they want to whoever they want, especially when it comes to spreading happiness and good cheer! In our current social climate, it’s sometimes hard for everyone to remember that the rest of the world isn’t always worrying about how we personally feel.
Don’t worry too much about holiday greetings. Instead, focus on the important things this holiday season, like family, friends and happiness. December is the season of giving—not debating political correctness. So, have a merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah and enjoy any other religious or cultural holidays that you and your loved ones might be celebrating this season!