Even adorable little Ruthie from the comic strip "One Big Happy" can't just leave it alone. In the strip from this past Sunday, Ruthie authors and reads to her elementary classroom her own Christmas story that in a more contemporary way parallels the story of Mary and Joseph and Bethlehem and the birth of Jesus. But very intentionally and sometimes creatively, Ruthie never actually says the word "Christmas." She comes perilously close on a couple of occasions, but she never utters the actual word. Then, in the strip's final panel we find out why: It's because her terrible, mean school won't let anyone say "Christmas."
What's that they say about a solution in search of a problem? Or, more specifically in this case, it's people conjuring up a "war on Christmas" that simply does not exist.
Are there pockets of the populace who actively and vocally insist on offering greetings of "happy holidays" instead of "merry Christmas"? Absolutely. And there are certainly those who might even correct your offering of a joyous “merry Christmas!” with a terse “happy holidays” rebuttal. But you can find political correctness in overdrive and run amok on just about any topic in these hyper-sensitive times we live in. But if protectors of all things Christmas and the whole “true reason for the season” angle think that someone offering up a hearty "happy holidays" instead of "merry Christmas" is some type of low-hanging fruit to rabidly chomp on, they're simply wasting their energy.
Polls support it. Most people don't think there's a war on Christmas. The majority of us aren't offended if someone says happy holidays instead of merry Christmas. Even most people who don't celebrate or otherwise observe Christmas because of their religious beliefs or lack thereof or because of other reasons that are really no one's business aren't bothered much if someone hoping to spread good cheer at this time of the year offers them a greeting of "merry Christmas!" Jewish people will tell you that they don't necessary consider Hanukkah to be "their version of Christmas," so if they hear you wish them or someone else a "merry Christmas!" they likely aren't going to get too up in arms about it, unless you say it with a defiant, in-your-face tone that suggests you're defending the last square foot of sacred ground you have left.
This pretend war is more of an excuse to introduce partisan politics into a time that should be about generosity and joy...or an excuse to post memes and GIFs.
We're talking about more than one holiday, after all. As Thanksgiving approaches late every November, people start wishing a happy holiday season to their friends and loved ones and even people they barely know or pass in a grocery store aisle. Are they supposed to say merry Christmas when they want people to enjoy their Thanksgiving, have a swell Christmas and, while they’re at it, a wonderful new year, too?
The holiday/Christmas season is supposed to be about giving and receiving love. It's about spreading peace, not hyping up some type of war on a word or a phrase or a belief system. The only war being waged here is against reality and rationality.
Wishing someone a merry Christmas is very unlikely to hurt them beyond repair, just as offering someone a wish of "happy holidays" isn't going to irreparably damage you.
So merry Christmas/happy holidays/happy new year, everyone! Be safe, have fun and make memories. And if you’re struggling with a loss or generally have a difficult time at this time of the year for whatever reasons are personal to you, here’s hoping you get through everything as best as you can, and find a little peace and joy along the way.