Merry Christmas… or Happy Holidays?

He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.
Roy L. Smith
1887–1963

Last week, one of my neighbors put up a yard sign saying “Christmas is all about JESUS.” I couldn’t help but think that their message presented a very narrow interpretation of the Christmas season, and one that somewhat misses the point.

I agree that Christmas shouldn’t be a consumer-driven, consumption-focused holiday. But if we go too far in the other direction — defining the holiday with a Christian perspective that excludes other beliefs — then we’re still forgetting the spirit of the season.

Jesus didn’t teach or live a life that excluded others. He deliberately ministered to people on the fringes, people traditionally marginalized by the society of the time: lepers, tax collectors, prostitutes, and others. He taught by example that we should love others and be kind to others, even when those people don’t share our religious and personal convictions.

There’s a flowchart that was shared through social media that does a great job of summarizing the spirit of Christmas. At the top, it says “If someone wishes you…”, and then it proceeds to list a variety of greetings: Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Holidays, and others. Underneath each one, it presents different options: you are Christian; you are non-Christian; you are Jewish; you are non-Jewish; and so on. Every choice leads to a single sentiment at the bottom: “You say ‘Thank you! You too!'”.

There’s no joy or love in getting bent out of shape because someone doesn’t use your preferred terminology or embrace your specific belief. If someone is celebrating the season in a peaceful, loving way, celebrate with them. Loving each other is the best way to honor the spirit of the season.

May you have the gladness of Christmas which is hope;
The spirit of Christmas which is peace;
The heart of Christmas which is love.
Ada V. Hendricks

Copyright © 2018 John Chancellor and Cheryl Chancellor

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