Happy Holidays… No Thanks

For the past many years since the onslaught of political correctness, Thanksgiving Day has been the start of my personal crusade against the phrase “Happy Holidays”.

Any time someone offers up this generic, dry, no-real-meaning greeting, I unabashedly respond with “Merry Christmas!”.  Although every now and again someone looks at me a little askew because of my response, the vast majority say thank you and go on about their day.  If the person on the receiving end of my now-rarely-uttered-by-any-one-but-me response celebrates Christmas they may actually respond with, “…well now, that’s nice to hear”.   

My traditional holiday greeting is not intended as an insult or to disparage anyone, I just truly dislike the phrase “Happy Holidays”.  “Merry Christmas” means something.  “Habari Gani?” means something.  “Happy Chanukah” means something.  “Happy Holidays” means nothing more than “I hold no traditions nor beliefs dear and don’t think you should either, but I hope your few days off of work are pleasant”.

I look at it this way:  If a Jewish man were to greet me with “Happy Chanukah” it would not offend me in the least – it is a proper greeting and I have been pleased to receive it the few times in my life it has been offered.  If an African American who celebrates Kwanzaa would greet me with ”Happy Kwanzaa”, I would thank the person for their kindness and just go right on. 

Over the years a few Christian friends have suggested that my “Merry Christmas” greeting might be considered insensitive to non-Christians.  A simple question points out the folly of their concerns, “If a Jewish stranger were to greet you with ‘Happy Chanukah’, would you be offended and consider the greeter insensitive?”  All have responded that they would not.  When I ask them conversely why they think a Jew or African American, or Muslim, (or athiest for that matter) would be offended by a traditional Christian greeting?  Their answer is usually silence or “I never thought about it that way?”

The few times that a person has responded to my hearty ‘Merry Christmas’ by responding with, “I don’t celebrate Christmas” or similar, I simply apologize and wish them a happy holiday.  They thank me and we both go on with life… no foul… no penalty.   But we both leave the brief exchange knowing each other a little better.

That is the problem with political correctness: By modifying our speech with the filtering out of any innocuous word or phrase that might even possibly offend some overly-sensitive person for any reason, we run the considerable risk of never acknowledging nor celebrating nor exposing the important differences that intertwine all of our lives.

Happy Holidays?, no thanks… I’ll have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year if you don’t mind… what’ll you have?

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