By now pretty much every shop and mall is decorated for Christmas and every service person is passing along a holiday well wishing to their customers. Some stores have pledged to say ‘Merry Christmas’ while others are sticking with ‘Happy Holidays’. I do not envy whoever has to make the decision each year on what greeting will be given. This Cyanide and Happiness comic sums up the problem nicely;
We need to drop the attitude and the crankiness. We need to stop hearing the phrase as a slight against our faith and our holiday and hear it for what it is intended, a genuine well wishing.
I think our problem is one of perception more than one of reality. We are so sure that the person who is wishing us Happy Holidays is actually saying something negative we can’t hear the blessing in it. When many of us hear Happy Holidays I think this is what we think is being said,
‘I hate you, your holiday, and your faith. I wish that your celebration would come to an end so I can enjoy my own Christless and Godless celebration. A pox on you and your house of worship!’
When this is our starting point it is pretty hard to accept that the person speaking to us is saying something kind and loving to us. But like I said I think this is a problem of perception more than anything. So I have decided that when someone wishes me a Happy Holidays I will perceive it differently. I will perceive it positively.
This is what I have decided to hear when someone wishes me a Happy Holidays;
‘Sir I recognize that you are a Christian who is entering into a season where you celebrate multiple holidays. I know that you are celebrating Advent, Christmas and New Years. I possibly will not see you at the appropriate time to pass on a more specific holiday greeting for each holiday. Therefore I hope all of your holidays will be happy and joy filled.’
I choose to hear the store clerks say such kind things to me all contained in those two simple words, Happy Holidays. Because of that choice I walk away from every cash register feeling blessed, edified and not the least bit cranky. Will you consider hearing ‘Happy Holidays’ this way with me as well?