Friday, December 19, 2014

Do You Happy? Or Do You Merry?

The time of gift-giving and tinsel-decking is upon us.

The malls, outlets, and post office overflow with customers. A jazzy , forcibly jolly Christmas jingle plays everywhere you go--so that later, no matter how you may try to rid yourself of it, you find yourself "dashing through the snow" in 50 degree, Southern weather. Among all your other to-do's, your mind churns with your gift list and baking ideas... how to find time for it all? At the next check out line, your arms heavy with purchases and your wallet lighter than when you entered, you flippantly remake to the clerk:

"Happy Holidays."

You can hear onlookers' mental tires screech as they register your words. And so ensues the great debate: to happy or to merry? That is the question.

 In a moment of unthinking holiday cheer, you wish your fellow human a happy holiday season, only to have the manner in which you wished come under close scrutiny. Did you say Happy Holidays? Well, surely you are an atheist attempting to spread your atheism by word alone. How dare you not say Merry Christmas! After all, isn't Jesus the reason for the season? Yet, conversely, if you say Merry Christmas, some view you as a Bible-thumping fanatic ready to bop someone over the head with said tome.

So, I asked myself...Which way do I typically wish people a happy holiday season? And why do I say what I say?

The answer: I use both expressions.


In my opinion, the two are somewhat interchangeable with "Happy Holidays" being a more general expression encompassing the entire holiday season from Thanksgiving to Hanukkah to Christmas to New Years Day.  On the other hand, as a professional in the education industry, I also feel compelled to acknowledge the varied holidays my students and coworkers may be celebrating. Therefore, I often say "Happy Holidays" as an encompassing, general expression.

As a Christian, I do celebrate and love the Christmas holiday. Therefore, yes, I'm also going to wish others a Merry Christmas--both as a sincere wish that they as Christians too have a happy Christmas but also just out of sheer joy for the holiday commemorating the birth of my Savior, a joy I wish to spread with anyone regardless of their religious affiliation. (Even though, historically, it's unlikely that He was born on December 25th.) I would never be offended if someone wished me a Happy Hanukkah, even though I do not celebrate Hanukkah. I can still appreciate that that holiday is just that, a holy day, to those celebrating it. Who am I to sneer at their kind expression or belittle their belief? I hope that I would not offend another by belittling their holiday just as I would prefer to not have my holiday belittled. Expressions of kindness and happiness occur rarely in this world. In my opinions, the holidays remind people to do just that: share a little bit of their own joy with others.

While I'm sure that this explanation will seem insufficient to some people, it captures my reasoning for why I both Happy and Merry my fellows.

So which expression do you typically use? And why? Leave a message in the comments-I would love to know!

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