“Merry Christmas, I mean if you celebrate it,” said a women to whom I’d given up my table at the coffee shop. I appreciated the mention of Christmas, even qualified, which I hardly hear any more. Nearly everyone says some version of “Happy Holidays,” if they say anything at all.
Though an advocate of saying “Merry Christmas,” I think we might make the feeling much more practical and expressed throughout the year. By being kinder to people who serve you, waiters in particular, for one thing. From this week’s column for Aleteia:
Customers can treat waiters and fast food clerks very badly, sometimes amazingly, jaw-droppingly, did-you-see-that badly. Some of it’s just inconsiderateness or selfishness, the failure or refusal to make the small effort to see how things from their point of view, but some of it’s a cowardly assault on the defenseless.
Our eldest son worked for a couple years in high school and then summers after at a sandwich shop in an affluent, boutique-y little town, and dealt with obnoxious people every day. They seemed to feel that the few dollars they paid for their sandwich also paid for the right to abuse the staff. If they ordered the wrong thing, for example, the workers were at fault for not reading their minds.
One summer a young woman working there became a particular target, perhaps because she was petite and polite, with people sometimes asking her how stupid she could be. Her co-workers at the cash register end of the line enjoyed telling them, “You know, she’s a classics major at Harvard. She sight-reads ancient Greek and Latin.” My son told me that the abusive customers were not always suitably abashed.
There follows seven practical ways to say “Merry Christmas” to your waiter, and not just at Christmas — ways to “do unto others” in this particular matter. Waiters represent all those over whom we as customers have some power, if only to make their work harder.