As we enter this festive time of year, I want to go against popular Christian rhetoric and say that it's okay to use the phrase Happy Holidays. In fact, I think our stance against this phrase is part of the reason groups are so adamant about removing manger scenes and religious carols from public places.
Within six weeks, people in this country will celebrate Thanksgiving, Hannukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day, Epiphany, New Years, and a whole host of other celebrations that I'm not even aware of. It takes a lot of gall for us to expect retailers to tell all of those people Merry Christmas.
It also displays a lack of sensitivity to insist on telling our Jewish friends Merry Christmas when we know they celebrate Hannukah. It's like people coming up and wishing you Happy Birthday! on your anniversary. You're glad that they want you to have a good day, but you really don't feel like they care enough to know you or take the time to personalize the sentiment.
Does this mean saying Merry Christmas is wrong? No! Of course not. If someone I didn't know wished me Happy Hannuah, I would thank them for the sentiment and acknowledge what it is - a wish for this time of year to be a good one. Now if they wished me Happy Kwanzaa, I might look at them a little funny, but I'd still thank them.
This is the season of Christ's birth. Christ didn't force people to believe in Him. He opens his arms and welcomes any and all who come, but He doesn't force them.
We need to stop expecting people who don't worship the birth of Christ to wish us a Merry Christmas. Instead we need to show them the love of Christ by loving them right where they are.
Even if they wish us Happy Holidays.