People need to remember that Christmas is not "Merry" for everyone. It can be a time of huge grief and sadness. My good friend lost her 12-year-old daughter to a very rare brain tumor just before Christmas. For myself, on November 1, 2008, my father was given three months to live due to liver cancer. At our last Christmas together, I choked back the tears at the dinner table, knowing that it would be the last Christmas with him. I used to absolutely love Christmas and was one of the biggest "Merry Christmas" people out there! But now, when I hear those words, hear cheery Christmas songs, see the displays in stores, and hear "Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays," I find those words overwhelming. For some reason "Season's greetings," or "the best of the Season" seems to be easier for me to swallow.
Susanne Alexander-Heaton is the CEO of Motivated by Nature in Calgary, Alberta. Visit her site at www.abcfaeries.com.
Here's my two cents: I've taken to saying "Happy Holidays" so that I can cover all bases. But as a Catholic, I really miss saying, "Merry Christmas." And I do say it every once in a while. My opinion is this -- why would someone be offended by a celebratory greeting of a different religion? It might be misguided, but it's not like I'm telling them to go to hell.
Barbara Bellesi is a staff writer for www.collegebound.net.
I prefer to say "Happy Holidays" unless I actually know what religion the recipient follows. I'm agnostic, and not a fan of Christian-by-default; you can't tell what a person believes just by looking at them.
On a few occasions, I've wished a stranger "Happy Holidays" only to get a snarky comment like "You mean Merry Christmas, right?" in return. I tend to reply with a quick "Praise Allah" when people do that. Ugh.
The thing is, I don't take offense if someone wishes me a Merry Christmas. It's the spirit of the well-wishing that matters. I don't see why anyone should turn it around into a negative. I like "Happy Holidays," as it's about as all-inclusive as you can get.
Marie Porter is the author of "The Spirited Baker" (www.spiritedbaker.com).
I have an aunt, her name is Gail. She always made and still makes a point to say, "Enjoy the Holiday!"
This doesn't matter if it is Hanukkah, the winter solstice, or Yom Kippur for that matter.
She is Jewish, as am I. She doesn't want to simply wish someone a happy day, rather encourage them to purposefully embrace, seize the spirit of the day, and truly enjoy it.
I like, no, I love this sentiment. Isn't it beautiful, warm, inviting, and all-inclusive?
It doesn't matter what your religion or what you celebrate, it works for all peoples, all year long.
I hope that you "Enjoy the holiday!!"
Leah Chava works for Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center, a large synagogue in South Florida.
I'm a physician. I'll admit that saying "Happy Holidays" is a bit sterile. But it seems the more appropriate thing to say in the professional setting when speaking to someone new who has not clearly identified a religious persuasion.
This topic really rankles some of my fellow Southerners, especially some older folks.
To negotiate this:
1) I sometimes ask what a person has been doing to prepare for the holidays. Do they have anything special planned? This usually gives me all the information I need.
2) Alternatively, I can answer in a way that identifies me. "We are well, but still trying to find the right Christmas present for my daughter."
3) When parting ways, the new information can now be safely incorporated into you adieus.
Dr. Rink Murray is a reproductive endocrinologist in Tennessee.