Wait! Can I actually say "Merry Christmas" without offending someone out there? There may be someone who might feel put out by it, or so I've heard.
It's interesting. I seem to remember a time when the term "Christmas" was not so controversial, but nowadays, you have to think twice before you say it. (Hmm, should I be typing "Xmas" instead...?) Is this a good thing or not?
On the surface, the intentions to replace a term like "Merry Christmas" to more generic terms like "Season's Greetings" or "Happy Holidays" are, I believe, good ones. The latter terms are much more inclusive, as there are many holidays being celebrated around this time (Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, which has just finished up), and by no means do I mean to belittle anyone not celebrating Christmas by I wishing them a Merry Christmas.
But is the term "Christmas" really hurtful to so many non-celebrants, as some civil libertarians would have us believe? I for one find it hard to believe. It almost seems to me that those who wish to eliminate the term "Christmas" from public discourse are, well, patronizing those who don't celebrate Christmas. I honestly believe that the vast majority of people out there who don't celebrate Christmas are not offended by the term, and do not get upset if someone, not knowing their beliefs, inadvertently wished them a Merry Christmas. It's meant in the spirit of goodwill, and I think most non-celebrants realize that. Wouldn't one have to be rather insecure in one's own beliefs to actually feel threatened by something like this?
But I could be wrong. It's happened before, once or twice.
Maybe more non-Christians out there than I realize are put out by the term "Christmas", and having people wish them a Merry Christmas. Maybe it is more dangerous a term than I realize. If it can be proven to me that using these words is hurtful to a lot of people out there, then I definitely will be much more careful when I use them.
On the other hand, a lot of Christians now feel "threatened" by the fact that the use of these terms is not as popular as before. Again, the question is, why are people expected to say "Happy Holidays" rather than "Merry Christmas"? Is it for the sake of inclusion? If so, well, there's nothing wrong with that, is there? But even if it was driven by those who oppose the celebration of Christmas, then I still say let 'em have what they want! I'll turn the other cheek, as it were! After all, living up to the Christmas ideal of "peace on earth and good will towards all" (yes, I know it's commonly "good will towards men", but I prefer to say all) is far more important to me than fighting with people over the right to say "Merry Christmas". They're welcome to take the words from me, but they can't take the spirit behind it.
Fortunately, I don't think we've come to the point where we have to stop using Christmas terms just yet. So how about I say this: I'd like to wish you Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays! I use the former term because I celebrate Christmas, and am sure that the majority of you do as well. I use the latter for those of you who do not, but for whom I wish the best of this Holiday Season, whatever you believe or celebrate.
And of course, I wish
each and every one of you a totally fabulous New Year for 2002! Er,
that is, for those of you using the same calendar as me...