Monday, December 20, 2010

It’s Okay: Wish Me A Merry Christmas!

A couple of years ago, some Christian groups got upset over retail company owners telling their employees to say “Happy Holidays” rather than “Merry Christmas.” They campaigned to have people become aware of this and to not patronize those stores.

I think the Christian groups had a good point over which to be upset. People are spending their hard earned money, for centuries the world has been celebrating Christmas [or possibly not in Muslim areas] without any huge fuss ups [that I know of, I mean do you know of a war started because someone told someone else “Merry Christmas?”], and Christian employees should not be compelled to not say “Merry Christmas” if they want to say "Merry Christmas." There might have been more to the campaign; I don’t quite remember every detail.

In the campaigns that I was aware of, they didn’t protest outside the stores, waving signs and barring access. It was pretty much a get the word out and make your own decision in line with your conscience. There was also a polite button campaign; one could wear a large button in red, green and white design that said, “It’s okay, wish me a Merry Christmas.” Passionate yet harmless.

Anyways, personally, I don’t shop that much during any time of the year but very rarely during the Christmas season. I try to think of gifts I can hand make instead. It’s been a great alternative for me since I generally don’t like going to the mall and the mall is craziest at Christmas time. So no company was greatly affected by my non-buying stance and the greeting thing has nothing to do with my stance.

One year, I made little Christmas stockings out of felt, personalized each one with the person’s initial in sequins on the front, and filled them with goodies. Another year, I bought glass ball ornaments and then personalized them by filling them with stuff and a photo display of me with the person. Also, I’ve baked cookies and/ or made pudding pies and passed those out.

The other day, I was riding in a car and saw The Bus drive by. I got a little cheerful tingle to see that the outside had been painted with Christmas lights and the phrase “Happy Holidays.” So that made me think of the “Merry Christmas” campaign of a couple years ago.

I haven’t heard anything this year to continue the campaign, which hopefully means that it’s not a big issue or widespread non-“Merry Christmas” thing going on. So in a calm way, I’ll give my personal points. And since I don’t know that any company is doing the “No ‘Merry Christmas’” campaign this year, let’s keep it on a theoretical level; you can even remind me if you catch me on a different level.

I have no problem with signs or shopping bags saying “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings.” Let’s make that clear.

Since I am a Christian, I also have no problem with signs or shopping bags that say “Merry Christmas.” Go figure.

What I would have a problem with is a company instructing their employees to not say “Merry Christmas,” say “Happy Holidays” instead [apparently, that’s what companies were doing, and correcting or “gently reminding” their employees should a “Merry Christmas” slip out]. I don’t believe companies would have good reason to do that.

One of the ideas would have been that saying “Merry Christmas” might offend people and they might not shop at a store if an employee at that store said that to them. If someone is that sensitive to the greeting, I would wonder why they are that sensitive. No, really, I’d wanna know so I would ask them questions and listen to their story.

At the same time, I don’t think that by-and-large, people would be offended by it. I don’t envision large groups of people boycotting a store because an employee said “Merry Christmas,” and causing the company millions of dollars, putting the company in the red. So I don’t see why a company should be overly concerned about offending people in such a manner.

To be clear, I’m not advocating that people go around and purposely offend others. I’m just thinking that people who wish others a “Merry Christmas” probably ARE NOT doing it to be offensive. Have you had such an experience, where someone said that in order to offend another? I’m not even sure how one would do that.

Another idea, the “PC” concerned one, would be that one wants to have an all-inclusive generic holiday greeting. Well then, why limit the Christian who celebrates the holiday as Christmas from saying “Merry Christmas?” At the same time, if an employee celebrates it as Hanukkah, let them say “Happy Hanukkah!” Does one celebrate Kwanzaa? Say the Kwanzaa greeting. I think a generic greeting is disrespectful to all. Let people spread the holiday joy in whichever manner they choose.

Those are my two points: offense and “PC.”

If someone said “Happy Hanukkah” to me, I wouldn’t be offended. I’d either say “Merry Christmas” back or a simple “One to you also!” What’s the big deal?

It actually takes me some thought to say “Merry Christmas” to people I pass. Take the cashier at the register, I’m trained to say “Thank you,” you know, for their services. Saying "Thank you" is pretty much automatic [and still heart-felt] for me; saying "Merry Christmas" all year long or at Christmas time is not. I also tend to forget to say "Happy New Year" or "Happy Thanksgiving."

Recently, I was at a business somewhere and they had been crazy busy, lost my ticket then found it and realized there was a mix up where it had been [unintentionally] paid already, and tacked on about 10 extra minutes to my visit. They were nice about it and kept apologizing. So when all was done and just before I left, I said a quick “Merry Christmas!” Immediately, the cashier perked up, her shoulders relaxed, her face brightened and she returned the greeting and complimented my hair and such for a few seconds more.

It might possibly have made her day, I don’t know, I might have been the only customer to give a joyful greeting. Having worked in retail and restaurant scenes, I can attest that customers exist who would have gotten so upset over the mistake and the ensuing delay.

However, I do know that it made my day to see the cashier relax and cheer up!

Anyways, however you celebrate this season, I hope it is full of JOY!

Merry Christmas!