A few years ago, not long before Christmas, I took my daughter for an appointment with the foot doctor. I've always been told "you don't look Jewish," along with "you don't look that short" and "you don't look that old," although I am all three. As we were leaving, the doctor, who most definitely was Jewish, said, "Merry Christmas." I replied, "Merry Christmas and . . . ," leaving my daughter to fill in with "Happy Hanukkah!" The doctor looked at us and said, "You two are Jewish?" We nodded and the three of us shared a good chuckle laugh at the absurdity of three Jews politely wishing one another "Merry Christmas."
"Happy Holidays" really is the better way to go, for me at least.
Lauren Baratz-Logsted is a novelist living in Connecticut with her husband and daughter. Learn more about her at www.laurenbaratzlogsted.com.
If you truly want to wish people happiness over this season, then you will wish them according to their beliefs, not yours. That means, when you know they celebrate Christmas, you wish them "Merry Christmas." If you know they're Jewish, you wish "Happy Hanukkah" and if you're not sure, or you're sending wishes to a varied group you wish "Happy Holidays." It's not a war on Christmas (which is a silly idea); it's just simple respect and tolerance for other people. The war on Christmas is being waged by those Christians (and I am a Protestant Christian) who make our religion so obnoxious to others that they become hostile to it. Jesus (who was Jewish) was about love, acceptance, and caring -- not being nasty to others.
Tina B. Tessina, PhD, is a psychotherapist and author of Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting about the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage.
Consider the following: How would you feel if for a month or more, everywhere you went people wished you Happy Birthday? You'd first think "that's nice but it's totally not my birthday." At first it wouldn't bug you, but then it would get on your nerves. In addition, everywhere you look, you see signs that say "Happy Birthday ______." It doesn't take long to get the urge to start saying back, "IT'S NOT MY BIRTHDAY, why do you just assume it's my birthday????"
I've had "discussions" with people and they try to convince me that Christmas is not a religious holiday and I over-react when I hear Merry Christmas wherever I go. My humble advice is don't try and send the proper greeting to the specific person; just make it generic to cover everyone, Happy Holidays (covers a broad range including New Year's).
Jay Duchin is the owner of Duchin Productions in Beverly, Massachusetts.
A few years back I taught English in a Japanese Fishing Village. My predecessor had been a devout Christian and when teaching the unit on holidays in America, he only focused on Christmas. Being from Los Angeles, I felt that didn't give a very well-rounded example of the diversity of holidays celebrated in the U.S. during the month of December. So, I started my Holiday English Unit, explaining that it's best to say "Happy Holidays," as one should not assume a person's beliefs before getting to know them. Of course, I also explained the joy of Chrismukkah, because I wanted the Japanese to understand that there were many mixed families where I came from.
Leilani Gushiken is an events planner, writer, world traveler, and frequent volunteer. You can reach her at http://www.linkedin.com/in/leilanigushiken.