Happy Holidays! Hope that doesn’t offend you. After all, it’s been a common expression for many decades. Take, for example, this 1942 hit, written by Irving Berlin and performed by the beloved Bing Crosby.
Mr. Crosby was encouraging folks to come stay at Holiday Inn, where they might find relaxation, peace, quiet, comfort, and rest. Doesn’t that sound nice? Since the Inn was only open on holidays, he was referring to all holidays when singing this hit song.
But how about Perry Como’s “Home for the Holidays”? One of my dad’s favorites, this song was released at Christmas in 1954, without one mention of Christmas. Listen for yourself HERE.
Clearly, not everyone who uses the word “Holiday” at Christmastime is trying to be politically correct.
Yet, there are people who are concerned about this greeting. A couple of years ago, some friends and I were out for dinner. At the end of the meal, the waitress wished us well with the words “Happy Holidays” and my friend cheerfully said “Merry Christmas” in response. (To be clear, my friend wasn’t saying this to be snarky.) The waitress immediately smiled and exclaimed “Merry Christmas” back to us, and shared she was afraid to offend people with those words. Sad, huh?
Truthfully, we should never be fearful of sharing this greeting…and we shouldn’t be offended when others don’t. The first amendment gives us freedom OF religion, not freedom from it. And this works both ways.
I was reminded of this as I was driving through Bethlehem. No, not that Bethlehem (although I’ve been there too) . Instead, I was in a tiny town in Georgia (http://bethlehemga.org). As I started to drive through this adorable little community of less than 1,000 people, I noticed a sign that said “One Mile Prayer Walk.” As I continued down the road, I noticed the star of Bethlehem everywhere and greetings such as “In God We Trust” painted on businesses. Merry Christmas was all around. As I reached the end of the mile, another sign was posted that said “AMEN!” I loved it. A one-mile prayer walk right through town! You see, the people of that community have this right. They can express their collective faith as they see fit. Clearly, the people of this town follow Jesus and desire to point all who enter their neighborhoods to Him. How awesome is that?
NOTE: This post has previously been published on Patheos.