Just say ‘Merry Christmas’
Once again, we are at the time of year where so many of us are careful in how we greet people, even our friends in some cases.
Is it all right to say “Merry Christmas” if you aren’t sure that someone celebrates this Christian holiday?
We believe that it is. Here’s why:
In wishing someone “Merry Christmas,” even someone who is not Christian, what we are doing is sharing our hope for the holiday with them. We are saying, in essence, that we hope they have a wonderful time at this time of year, as we hope we do. We do not say it to be offensive, we do not say it in the assumption that everyone celebrates this holiday — we know they don’t — but we say it as a wish.
That is our hope, that is how we hope everyone means it.
To us, it is the same as if someone of the Jewish faith were to wish us “Happy Chanukah” even knowing that we are not Jewish. We are not offended. We take it to mean they hope we are as happy during their holiday as they hope to be.
The same would be true if a Muslim were to wish us “Happy Ramadan.” Where is the offense? They want to enjoy a happy Ramadan and wishing that we, too, enjoy that time is, in our estimation, and act of friendship.
The idea that we must go around wishing everyone a “Happy Holiday” seems specious. It has no meaning. We could say that on July 4 or on Labor Day. Why not say it on Canada Day (July 1, 2018) because that would have just as much meaning. Were you in Canada, would you say “Happy Holiday” or would you say “Happy Canada Day”?
We have become too cautious, assuming sensitivity where none might exist. But if we worry about such things, we could always preface what we say, to wit:
“I know you don’t celebrate Christmas but I hope this season is a joyous for you as I hope it will be for me, so Merry Christmas.”
How about, “Merry Christmas. No offense meant.”
The idea, we think, is to share our joy in what is a joyous time with others. If someone were to take offense, we could always explain that, but it seems as if it shouldn’t be necessary.
Oh, we suppose we could just turn it into an excerpt, as in:
“Hello. Have a Merry,” and leave it at that, but come on.
Still, we have to remember that there are folks in the world hoping for an opportunity to take offense so it’s best, perhaps, to be cautious.
Wish them joy via “Merry Christmas” and if they take offense, we can always just shrug and say, “OK, then, don’t have one. It’s entirely up to you. We like you anyway.”