I went to buy Christmas gifts a few days ago. And not even one store clerk said “Merry Christmas” to me, even though they were all small stores and one had an abundance of Nativity scenes too. They all said “Happy Holidays”. I get it, they want to be politically correct. Not everyone celebrates Christmas and that’s fine, I know that not all people celebrate the same thing I do. I get that. The thing is though, it bothers me how people used to wish each other Merry Christmas and it felt good because we have the Christmas trees all around us (are we going to call them just holiday trees or holiday evergreens to be politically correct?) and we have Santa Claus coming by on Christmas Eve. Of course some people don’t celebrate Christmas, and I do have many friends who don’t and I respect that, but anything short of having a piece of paper stuck to our foreheads letting people know what we each celebrate will simply not do because guessing this kind of stuff feels like a fool’s errand.

So why not wish Happy Holidays then and make everyone happy? Because it feels impersonal. That’s what I think. Because it feels fake and it takes something out of it. One thing is that saying merry almost makes one hear some twinkling of stars up there and inside one’s heart too. Happy is a good word, it is, but it’s not the same. So when someone says Happy Holidays to me I fell like saying please if you want to wish me something wish me Merry Christmas.

Why are we afraid of acknowledging Christmas the way it is? And why would people feel that a holiday is imposed on them? People will still celebrate what they want to celebrate, whether Christmas or Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa or nothing at all if that’s the way they see fit. But our world around this time a year abounds with trees and angels and stars, and they are there because we celebrate Christmas. Christian people like me celebrate the birth of Jesus on Christmas day and I think that is a beautiful thing, but I do know that we live in a society where freedom of speech is highly valued and that’s how it should be and among other things, freedom means that no one is pushed into a church against their wish and forced to sing carols. It’s a matter of choice. But altering greetings to make them agreeable and politically correct takes the life out of them. And to all the naysayers out there, I know what I am talking about because I did grow up in a communist country and I know what it’s like to think Merry Christmas and say Happy Holidays, I do. While it made for good warm true Christmas celebrations inside people’s homes, there was also fear and resentment too, which overshadowed some of the joy. Not to say the two situations are similar, but impersonal celebrations make it rather hard for both young and old to see why kindness towards each other and also towards the least fortunate which should be a given around this time a year, and, why not, reminders to be kind the rest of the year.

Happy Holidays goes well with shopping and sparkling malls and the mad race to get everything just perfect for the occasion. Merry Christmas to me means being with people I love and feel close to, home baked goodies, a cute little Christmas tree kids hang their homemade decorations in, their hearts beating fast while waiting for Santa. Gifts, you may ask? Well, yes, gifts, they are not all bad, because gifts, if people opt for them, can be thoughtfully offered, and there should be no slavery or suffering of any kind involved in the making of Christmas gifts, ideally. ‘tis the season to be giving, indeed.

Merry Christmas to all! And if you happen to be among those who do not celebrate Christmas this time a year, please know that behind every Merry Christmas I say there are a lot of good thoughts that I hope will make their way towards you too and bring you their merry warmth with them. And you do not have to be a Christian fellow to receive them. Goodness transcends boundaries people put up. That’s why I can say Merry Christmas and know, deep down, just like you do, that I will not offend anyone.