Why I stopped insisting on saying ‘Merry Christmas’

the word Love written over a blurred Christmas treeThere is a time and a place for standing your ground but insisting on saying ‘Merry Christmas’ might not be it.

Years ago, when I was living in the suburbs, I recall a movement amongst myself and many of my spiritually minded friends that pushed back against the idea of saying ‘Happy Holidays’.

Keep Christ in Christmas! was the cry.

To say ‘Happy Holidays’ felt like it weakened the POINT of winter holidays. Anything aside from a loud and clear ‘Merry Christmas’ seemed to cave to political correctness (what would be called ‘woke culture’ these days, I think).

Anywhoo, there wasn’t a lot of cultural diversity where I lived, so I’m not sure my cheerful and strong ‘Merry Christmas’ ever met with any resistance.

And then I moved to Los Angeles–a city with so much diversity, it was never appropriate to make assumptions about anybody’s, well, anything. Nationality, gender, political or religious preferences–it was a complicated and interesting mixed bag at all times.

In a conversation over coffee one day, a new LA friend and I were chatting about the whole ‘Merry Christmas’ thing. And she brought up such a good point that I think of it often.

“I choose to say Happy Holidays because I want to honor that person. Demanding to say, ‘Merry Christmas’ is more about ME and not about seeing the other person.”

I so agreed with her perspective and happily began saying the more inclusive winter greeting of ‘Happy Holidays’ in my new home city.

And yet…there was a little part of the suburban girl in me who wondered if I had sold out. If by NOT saying ‘Merry Christmas, I was somehow not standing for Christ in this new place.

I’ve been mulling this over for years and I finally had a moment of clarity on part of it today. You know 1 Corinthians 13? Often read at weddings, it’s an inclusive definition of love like no other. The part that jumped out at me was:

“It [Love] does not insist on its own way…”. 

I know, right?

I’m pretty sure that loving people in Los Angeles or the suburbs or anywhere looks a lot like NOT insisting on my own way. I don’t think Christ needs the kind of press I was serving with my arrogant use of ‘Merry Christmas’.

So, I hope your winter holidays are merry, but not at the insistence of my limited view of love and my role on this earth. If our paths cross on the street, I really hope you know I love and see you by how I serve you–maybe it will be letting you cut in front of me in line or holding a door open. It won’t be because I insisted on saying ‘Merry Christmas’.

I do hope you know the peace of Christ in your life and in your heart. But until then, Happy Holidays.

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