The current (and apparently annual) controversy over the use of phrases like “Happy Holidays” and “Season’s Greetings” reminds me of a similar disagreement over the use of “X” to mean “Christ.” Some Christians consider that to be blasphemous–or, at the least, disrespectful. I say, don’t worry about it; God “gets” it. After all, He’s the one who told us His name was YHWH (Yahweh).
But it seems that retail stores and greeting cards are making a special effort this year to downplay the religious aspect of Christmas. I’d like to ask the Christians who are calling for boycotts of these merchants to tell us what they’re really upset about. Are they worried that people will forget what the season stands for? Well, the fact is, this time of the year means different things to different religions. Not only is there Hannukah and Kwaanza, but there’s also the Winter Solstice. Are Christians willing to share the stage with others? Or are they afraid that the competition will put them out of business?
The “politically correct” option has existed for years and I for one have always been glad to find cards that will not offend those I am not sure are Christian. In an ideal world, we would send cards to commemorate everyone’s celebrations. But frankly, I’m not entirely clear about who celebrates what. It’s much easier–and safer, if your goal is truly to send best wishes and not offend others– if we use cards with greetings that everyone can agree with. I’ve always been partial to “Peace On Earth”–who can argue with that? And there are always greetings like “May your season be bright” and “Joy to the World” (song lyrics come in especially handy for this purpose). I do find it a little excessive, though, when it takes me a half hour to find cards that actually contain the word “Christmas.” But Christians should count their blessings: none of the cards used the abbreviation “Xmas.” And the word “holiday” isn’t as bad as they make it out to be. After all, its original meaning was “holy day.”
I have a suggestion that might help to quell the controversy: what about writing your own greeting inside the card? Then you could explain in your own words what this season means to you. And while you’re at it, get rid of the gifts and the Christmas trees. The Christmas tree and many other Christian (not just Christmas) traditions started out as pagan customs. And the only gifts we give should be those we give to God (like the little drummer boy’s). Stores like Wal-mart and Target may not be exhibiting the true meaning of Christmas, but then, neither are we.