Friday, December 26, 2014

Seasons Greetings?

Our tree this year

I typically stay away from controversy. It's a personality thing. As an INFP*, I'm inclined to see both sides of an issue, and while I may have my own opinion, I'm unwilling to fight over it when I see how the opposition arrived at their opinion. I also dislike arguments in general. I like peaceful relationships. While I have engaged in the occasional rant, by and large, I prefer to listen rather than argue for a side. But today I am wading into the treacherous waters of holiday greetings with an opinion. 

I'm concerned about the enmity that arises from some of my fellow Christians when greeted with "Happy holidays." They respond with a sneer and a smug, "Merry Christmas." They want to "keep Christ in Christmas" and maintain that the reason these stores are open all these extra hours is in recognition of Christmas, not "holidays." 

To my mind, this is not at all in keeping with the spirit of Christmas. Christmas is about love. It is about generosity and gratitude. When someone offers us a greeting of "Happy holidays," can't we be generous with grace? Can't we gratefully receive that offering in the spirit it was given? When people say, "Happy holidays," they are not asking us to celebrate any holiday other than the one we embrace. They are not demeaning Christmas. They are wishing us well. 

I am a Christian. My family celebrates Christmas, practicing many of the sacred traditions of our faith--lighting of advent candles, reading of Scripture, attending church on Christmas Eve, singing carols. I like to say "Merry Christmas" to my family and to my friends who celebrate the birth of our LORD. But I refuse to be offended by an offering of goodwill. When someone wishes me a "happy holiday," I say "thank you" and return the kindness with a similar statement. What does offend me are believers who think they are honoring God by making a fuss over a simple friendly greeting. 

*INFP is the result of a personality assessment called the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. It is not a perfect description of my personality (or of anyone's personality), but it can be a useful label for understanding oneself and others. Rather than tell you all about it here, I'll just offer a few links for interested readers: