Tuesday, May 22, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio

Rose Russell

Excuse me - 'Merry Christmas!'

WHAT some of you are about to read could offend you, so be forewarned:


Yahoo! Don't bother to e-mail, telephone, or write to complain that the greeting is politically incorrect, although I'm sure to be pooh-poohed by the "happy holidays" or "season's greetings" crowds. I don't mind. That's nothing new.

And wouldn't you know, I'm not alone? A growing number of folk have about had it with good wishes that dismiss or ignore the whole point in the season in the first place: to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Messiah.

A front-page story in The Blade the other day took note of this issue and said the Christmas greeting is making a strong comeback. Now that's interesting. For some of us, it never fell out of favor.

In fact, as the crescendo for "happy holidays" increased in the last decade, the determined response from many others most of the time was a resounding "Merry Christmas."

Those who have insisted on saying "Merry Christmas" during these years might not have been aware of the organized effort to get the Christmas wish back en vogue. The American Family Association as well as the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights threatened to corral consumers to boycott stores that deleted the word "Christmas" from their own or their employees' lips or to otherwise let it be communicated.

I can't tell if that's why more clerks these days say "Merry Christmas" as they hand customers their purchases, change, and receipts. But whatever is behind the change is working.

The other night, a store clerk offered a pleasant "Merry Christmas." I looked her in the eyes and said unequivocally that I was pleased for her to tell me "Merry Christmas" and not "happy holidays."

Her response surprised me. "That's what a lot of people have been saying," she said. Well, "Golly Gomer!" You mean others have grown weary of "happy holidays" too?

And that wasn't my first such experience this season. After so many years of "happy holidays," I've been startled lately by other clerks bidding me "Merry Christmas." It's difficult to know whether to do so was the clerks' own initiative or whether their employers have urged them to do it to avoid boycotts.

So how's this all fare with groups that don't celebrate Christmas or embrace it as a religious observation or a secular holiday? Certainly some also are staunch in their positions and are prompt to thrust a "happy holidays" back at those who embrace Christmas as a religious holiday. That's fine.

As far as I know, my Jewish colleagues or friends have never denied Christians the privilege of saying "Merry Christmas." And if I offer the Christmas greeting to someone not knowing that he or she is Jewish, then in the spirit of the season, I wouldn't be offended in the least for them to return a "Happy Hanukkah" to me, though I am not Jewish.

Our increasingly pluralistic society has influenced the shunning of Merry Christmas. As other groups have made America their home and as some U.S. natives have selected not to become a part of Christendom, they have become more vocal and in many cases, have tried to press Christians, what they believe, and their message into oblivion.

The tactic has not worked. The secularization of Christmas and Easter benefits retailers more than individuals. Christmas trees and other holiday - the Christmas holy day, that is - decorations are nice and Santa Claus is little more than an interesting phenomenon in my house. And while we're on the subject, I still haven't figured out what Easter bunnies and eggs have to do with the resurrection of Jesus Christ, either.

Anyway, Christmas Eve is tomorrow, and I've got to start shopping. Now, where's that shopping list . . .

And oh, to all of you I say again, Merry Christmas!

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