A few years ago I began to notice people debating about saying Merry Christmas during the winter holidays. Well actually it was about not saying it. So I’ve been thinking and trying to figure out my feelings about it. This year, when Dad said he was afraid to say it in case he would offend someone, well it got me to thinking-- why are we allowing ourselves to be bullied into not openly practicing one of the most joyous Christian days of the year?
After three years of saying “Happy Holidays!” I am fed up with hiding my faith and began to consider this at the beginning of Advent. What if someone came up to me and said “Happy Kwanzaa!”? My first instinct would be to say “Happy Kwanzaa!” right back because I want to share in that person’s moment of joy; it would be a blessing that they wanted me to be a part of their happiness. While we may be content and sometimes happy, moments of joy are rare and very dear. Why would I want to ruin that for me, or for the person wanting me to enjoy a celebration? So I decided I am not going to let what others might think, stop me from openly practicing my faith.
This year I came back out of the closet and began saying “Merry Christmas!” I said it to the bell ringers at first because I knew they were safe. Then I said it to my friends and family because they know I’m a Christian, so that was okay too. Then I stepped out and began to say it to everyone.
It was interesting. Most said “Happy Holidays!” and one person said “Thanks!” I hoped that I hadn’t offended her. But it was at the 99cent store where I was buying gift bags and while the manager was ringing me up something happened which really took me by complete surprise. And it led to deeper and much different feelings about my Yuletide Joy.
As she totaled my order and handed me my purchases I bravely said my, “Merry Christmas!”
She looked around for a moment and then leaned in very close to me. I thought NOW I was going to get told off; this was going to be my come uppance for running around all Advent wishing people a "Merry Christmas!" As I braced myself with a deep breath and a small tremble, she looked me squarely in the eye with such intensity and then with a knowing nod, whispered, Merry Christmas.
A feeling crept over me and a glimmer of an understanding rose in my mind...this must be a bit what it is like to live in a country where the freedom to worship is limited by its society.