I wonder how many of you, when first seeing the title at the top of this post, said to yourself, Oh no! Even the evangelist is saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”!
Well, I read something the other day that gives me pause to think about the way I respond when I hear “Happy Holidays” rather than “Merry Christmas”. It makes me cringe but I realize that the word Holidays (Holy-days) is still a significant part of the greeting.
It is up to each one of us whether or not we make our Christmas celebrations “Holy” or just another day off from the ordinary. The “Holy”, however, is not found in the greeting itself … it is found in those who intentionally make the greeting holy by how we live our lives, by how we reflect the holiness of the One who came to us as a Babe in Bethlehem.
I have noticed over the past few years how the debate over the “correct” greeting for this time of year has become very unholy and, for the most part, the unholy bitterness and anger has come from within the Christian community. One might even say that, at times, a holier-than-thou posture has been directed toward those who choose to say “Happy Holidays” or Season’s Greetings”.
Yes, the reason for the season, indeed, is the celebration of Jesus’ birth for those of us who interpret it that way via Chrisitian faith and/or tradition. I believe, however, that the most powerful way we Christians can celebrate Christmas is to live into it in a holy way … in a way that proclaims the Good News of Jesus Christ by how we live and express the details.
People may not necessarily know we are Christians if we get upset and huffy over “Happy Holidays”. Such a reaction may cause them to say: Why would I want to be a Christian if that’s how Christians act over something so small in the grand scheme of things? But, people will learn that “We are Christians by our love” as the faith song puts it, IF we live that Spirit-filled, “holy” life that greets and engages people where they are … not where we might wish, or even demand, them to be.
My friends, this kind of authentic, everyday, love-filled holiness is what the world is crying out for … including from within our own surrounding communities. Right now, and perhaps with much more intensity than usual because of current world politics, wars and terror, (ie; recent attacks in France) Ebola, and worrisome environmental issues, people are fearful and distrustful. Is it not our call as Christians to be a counter-weight to that burden by living as people of the One we call the Light of the World?
So, next time someone wishes you “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings” or something other than “Merry CHRISTmas”, I invite you to accept it graciously and with love toward the one who is greeting you. Even if it may be a store cashier who is saying it in an off-handed, 1-have-to-do-this-because-storepolicy-says-l-have-to manner, offer that person a genuine smile, say “Thank You!” And, then, return the greeting with a friendly attitude that reflects the Good News of Jesus’ birth that infuses your life … an attitude that comes from the knowedge that 1-am-a-precious-child-of-God-and-so-are-you!
May you and your loved ones have a Merry & Blessed Christmas! … oh, yes, and Happy HOLIdays! 🙂