There isn’t one.
At least once a day I see someone’s status update on Facebook say something about how they’re annoyed that it’s not okay to say Merry Christmas anymore. Really?
Last time I checked Christmas is still everywhere. It’s the focal point holiday of the season. There is no shortage of Christmas anything – cards, decorations, trees, gifts! When has it ever been “not okay” to wish someone a Merry Christmas? Show me the person who responds to Merry Christmas with “Hey, actually I’m Agnostic/Jewish/(insert belief) and I’d prefer a Happy Holidays/Happy Hanukkah/(insert holiday) instead.” Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, I’m going out on a limb and guessing you’d probably smile, reciprocate a greeting and go about your day. I see far more people getting bent out of shape about being told Happy Holidays because their personal beliefs aren’t being catered to, whether they represent the majority or not. Now that doesn’t seem to be in the Christmas spirit.
Happy Holidays isn’t a watered down version of Merry Christmas, it’s not a replacement for Christmas, it encompasses Christmas – and Hanukkah and Kwanzaa (I need to meet someone who actually celebrates this). Happy Holidays is a general statement of good wishes during this time of the year. If you celebrate Christmas – sing it from the rooftops to everyone you meet. If someone says Happy Holidays in return, try not to be a bitter old scrooge and appreciate that someone wishes you well in return.
“Don’t tell me what to celebrate, stop trying to censor Christmas!” Just because your bank hangs a sign up that says Happy Holidays, or your work throws a “Holiday” party instead of a “Christmas” party, no one is taking away your freedom to celebrate Christmas. If I go to Target and the sign above the seasonal aisle says Happy Holidays, does that really mean I’m being forced to celebrate or believe in something else? There’s a War on Christmas because corporations default to saying Happy Holidays to speak to a wider demographic? I don’t understand how a general greeting that embraces the variety of religious and non-religious celebrations this time of year spits in the face of a Christian holiday. Head to Hallmark and look at the cards, there’s no shortage of cards that say Merry Christmas, even if the section is called “Holiday Cards” – the two aren’t exclusive!
Before I step off my soapbox I want to add that I’m not a Christian, but I was raised Catholic and celebrated Christmas every year. I will raise Leia to celebrate Christmas. I’m sure her Grandmas will take her to church and read her stories about Jesus to teach her the history of Christmas. Meanwhile I will continue to observe the holiday in the more religion neutral, slightly commercialized sense. We’ll decorate a tree, bake the cookies, watch the movies, open a few presents. We’ll spend the weeks leading up to the 25th hanging lights, avoiding crowded malls, sitting by a fireplace, spending time with family and friends. I’ll teach her to give back to those who need more than us. Most importantly, we’ll soak up the general spirit of goodwill and cheer that makes this time of the year so special. We’ll make memories and traditions for her to look forward to. I’ll greet people with Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays, and hope that they embrace as a warm gesture without picking apart the linguistics.