Holiday Greetings

There is much contention over the proper way to greet others and wish them well during this holiday season. For ages, a majority of Americans have wished each other a Merry Christmas. No thought was given to the receiver’s religious affiliation or lack thereof. It was understood that a Christian holiday was celebrated by all – or at least most – of those around us.

America is the land of immigrants. People of all nationalities, all religious backgrounds, all beliefs and non-belief. To assume our neighbors are as we, is to ignore the flux of time.

For some, I have no doubt, a greeting of “Happy Holidays” is meant to minimize the religious impact of “Merry Christmas”. I find that sad. There is no room for politicizing if one truly wishes another well. I do believe, however, that the intent to insult is rare so if someone wished me a happy holiday, I would simply respond in kind.

Which brings me to my salutation habits for the holidays. If I am with people whom I know celebrate Christmas, I am quick to cheerfully wish them a Merry Christmas. And when in the presence of people who celebrate Chanukah? Happy Chanukah, of course. To wish either something else would be the same as wishing a person a Happy Thanksgiving when it’s their birthday. It would not apply.

However, if I don’t know the person I am with – like just last week when I bought stamps at the post office – but I want to wish them happiness in whatever they celebrate, I will happily say, “Have a wonderful holiday!” or “Happy Holidays!” Most often, the response is just as cheerful and inclusive.

I live in a highly diverse area. I love the various cultures – the cuisines, the attire, the traditions and languages. The more aware we are of those around us, the more accepting we are and the happier our communities. Why exclude others – unintentionally or otherwise – by spreading joy of one holiday and not another?

From the majority of well-wishers, the expression “Happy Holidays” is not an insult but rather the opposite. It is saying I value you as an individual and do not judge you based on your beliefs when I wish you the best in the days ahead. So please, try not to be upset when people around you wish you happiness. More often than not, it is with the sincerest intent.

How do you wish others happiness this time of year? How do you respond to specific or general wishes for your happiness? Are you offended? Do you correct those who would wish you a Merry Christmas if that is not the holiday you celebrate? Or…?

Whatever the case, you now know my intent so I wish happy holidays to all of you. Whoever you are – whatever your belief – peace, love, comfort and health are my heartfelt wishes for you.

8 Responses to Holiday Greetings

  • I accept all kinds of well-meaning wishes during the holidays. I usually say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays. (By the way, it’s interesting how much more accepting people are of the latter when a holiday comes from “holy day.” Anyway.) If someone who celebrated Pinkie Toe Day wanted to wish me a happy one, I’d take it. I think we can get overly sensitive about these things. People are simply wishing us the best. Isn’t that a good thing?

    Interesting stuff, Debora.

    • Pinkie Toe Day! LOL. Love it. I would take a well-wish on that, too. Whenever someone extends a pleasantry, it’s wonderfully refreshing and I agree it is a very good thing.

  • Happy Holidays, Debbie!!

  • I usually go with “happy holiday” but I agree with Julie that “People are simply wishing us the best. Isn’t that a good thing?” It’s the intention that’s important.

    • I’ve spoken with people who are thoroughly saddened by wishes of “Happy Holidays” because they feel it’s said purposely to insult them or minimize their core beliefs. I wish I could reach them on an emotional level, and let them know that THAT is not the intent from most but rather what you and Julie said – people are simply wishing us the best”.

      Happy Holidays to you, Donna!!

  • Ahhh, the proverbial road to hell being paved with lovely intentions. I’m with you, Debbie. In my line of work, I wish everyone a Happy Holiday. But if I know they celebrate X-Mas or any other holiday, it brings me more pleasure to personalize the greeting. Generically, the “Holiday” wish is probably best. People who intend to cause harm in any kind of way are going to do it regardless of the occasion, unfortunately.

    A funny story. My father was a postal service man and told me to always ask for the African-American history stamps because they will stop making them if ppl don’t order them. So, as a rule, I buy them when I need stamps and around the holidays, I went into my local PO and asked for them. The guy goes in the back and he’s out of them, but he brings me Kwanzaa stamps and offers them. So, for about 60 elongated seconds, I stare at them on the counter while he’s busy awaiting my reply. And I’m thinking, “But I don’t celebrate it…” I shake my head and tell him ‘nah’. And he scrambles with embarrassment because he thinks he’s offended me, offering up how he thought I might blah, blah, blah. So, I just laughed and reassured him that he didn’t offend in any way. I actually felt bad because HE felt bad. Ah well 🙂

  • Amazing story, Tuere. What I love is that you understood his intent to be helpful. Someone else might have taken offense. I think we have to stick with what is in our hearts and hope more people will see that for what it is – because more often than not, it’s something good. 🙂

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