Gah! The debate over whether or not to say, “Merry Christmas!” or, “Happy Holidays!” rages on in good health. Tiring, isn’t it?
The heart of the matter is political correctness vs honest opinion. In the school of political correctness, it is paramount not to offend anyone. The resultant and ridiculous lengths over which people will walk on eggshells then becomes offensive in and of itself. And for good reason.
Here in the USA, we have the Constitution of the United States of America that kicks off the portion known as the Bill of Rights with the freedoms of press, speech, and religion all rolled together in the First Amendment. Coincidence? No. Much like Voltron, the Power Rangers’ Megazord, or numerous other interlocking robots from fiction, these freedoms combine to form one larger freedom. The freedom of expression.
At the time our Constitution was written, technology was simpler. The right of free speech gave us the ability to support or criticize our leaders at will to talk to one another on any subject and express ideas regardless of their popularity. It was most certainly intended to protect dissenting opinions as popular opinion is rarely in need of protection. The freedom of religion gives us the right to believe as we will, up to and including the belief that what you see is what you get. Combine these two and we get the right to believe what we want and to spread that belief by telling other people about it. Additionally, there is the freedom of press. The press at that time was most literally the printing press. Aside from performances which were covered under speech, freedom of press was essentially the right to record and distribute those beliefs and opinions en masse. Combine these three into one and you have the right to express your religion verbally and in recorded form such as writing.
There is little use in denying that many wintertime traditions have religious attachments. Even secular Christmas traditions are linked to worship (such as consumerism a.k.a. The Church of the Almighty Dollar). As a result, we live in continual fear of offending anyone of any other faith or, heaven forbid, those who profess to possess no faith at all. Big. Freaking. Whoop. Every wintertime saying that I’ve encountered is intended to be a warm, friendly greeting. What is so offensive about that?
If we are to be so paranoid as a society about possibly offending someone that we cannot express a warm friendly greeting from our own holiday of choice, then we deny ourselves the freedom that the First Amendment provides. In the matter of political correctness vs. honest opinion, as Washington is credited with saying, honesty is the best policy.
The real solution is to reduce or eliminate our own indignation. I am unashamedly Christian. That being said, you may wish me Happy Holidays, Happy Hanukkah, Merry Kwanzaa, Happy Saturnalia, or most anything else. I’ll simply take it as the well-wishing it was meant to be and I’ll offer you a Merry Christmas in return. Just don’t mash multiple holidays with their own unique histories and traditions into one mishmashed greeting (e.g. Merry Chrismakwanzukkah). To do so is to overlook or deny the individuality of these holidays and offend the celebrators of each.
Wish me a happy one of your celebration. Or, if you insist on remaining politically correct, stick to your Happy Holidays. Just don’t get offended by friendly greetings.