When you should say ‘Merry Christmas’ – and when you shouldn’t

When you should say Merry Christmas, and when you shouldn’t.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of The Excelsior Springs Standard.

December 15, 2017 – For many people, this is the most magical time of the year. It’s Advent, a holy season of waiting. Amid the waiting, there are Christmas lights twinkling in evenings that fall early and soft. There are pageants and performances, air that is crisp, clear and cold, holiday bake sessions that leave your house warm and fragrant. There is gingerbread-house-constructing, and will-it-snow wondering, holiday music on the radio and children, breathless with excitement, reminding us of all that is good about being young.

In other words, ‘tis the season. And as such, it’s totally okay to say, “Merry Christmas.” It is, after all, Christmas, and many people are feeling pretty merry.

You should say Merry Christmas when making eye contact with a stranger in the holiday aisle at the store makes you smile. Say it when you see someone tying their tree down in the lot of the hardware store. You should say it when your cashier greets you, if you are so inclined. Tell it to the child inspecting the display in the toy aisle. You should say Merry Christmas when your heart is full of the joy of the season, the excitement of the coming of Christ, when you want to share that joy and excitement with someone else. It should be a proclamation of good tidings, of well wishes, of cheer. You should say Merry Christmas with the intentions of including someone in the joy you are feeling.

But if you are saying Merry Christmas because you somehow think you are proving a point, the point you’ve proven is the opposite of what Christmas is about. If your Merry Christmas isn’t a proclamation of joy but is, instead, shots fired in some imaginary “War on Christmas,” it’s time to reevaluate what the season is about for you.

If your Merry Christmas is intended to exclude rather than include, perhaps it’s best to keep it to yourself. It’s unlikely that Christ would want the occasion of his birth used to separate others from His fold, after all.

Likewise, if someone says Happy Holidays to you, you should take it in the spirit it is intended. Many major religions celebrate different holy days around this time, and happy holidays simply casts a wider net than Merry Christmas does. It doesn’t mean the greeting isn’t as heartfelt or joyous. It doesn’t mean that the person hates Christmas or wants to prevent you from celebrating the season. It’s just a different greeting than yours, and that should be okay.

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With that being said, let me extend my well wishes to you. Happy Holidays. Season’s Greetings. May your Hanukkah candles burn brightly this year. I wish you a happy Kwanzaa, as well. I hope the Winter Solstice brings love and light into your lives, and may you have the merriest of Merry Christmases.

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