I often flinch inside when someone wishes me “happy holidays.” “What’s wrong with saying ‘Merry Christmas?’” says the annoyed inner voice. Nothing, of course, but nevertheless I’m trying to get over my flinching.
Hardly anybody who says “happy holidays” does so out of disrespect for the Christian feast. They do it out of politeness. There are some people who might receive Christmas greetings uncomfortably, and a tiny handful who are actively hostile to Christianity. But rarely do the people who say “happy holidays” feel this way. They want to express good will without offending anyone. Who can complain about that?
But Christians do complain. I complain. This troubles me. For one thing, it’s an egocentric complaint. It boils down to grumbling that people (society, the culture, “them”) don’t see Christmas the same way I do. That’s largely true; they don’t. But they have some positive idea about the season. It involves good cheer, human warmth, and celebration. Happy holidays. It’s something to respect, not grumble about.
After all, the reason why people think about being generous, enjoying their families, and doing things better in the new year is because Christ has come into the world. The babe of Bethlehem changed everything. Salvation has come. We can hope for something better. The holly and the sleigh bells, the lights on the house and Santa on the porch, Bing Crosby singing “White Christmas” and friends wishing you “Happy Holidays”—all this says that Christ has come. We can find him everywhere. It’s easy to see him at this time of year.