My morning walk takes me along a railway. This morning as I crunched along the frozen grass between the tracks and the highway I began to think about the concept of “easements” such as the one I was walking on.
An easement is a buffer area between the locomotives and the nearby automobile traffic. It allows them both to go their way without worrying that they might get too close and collide.
In years past, during this “happiest time of the year” between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day I have frequently been irritated by the substitution of the generic, “Happy Holidays!” for the traditional, and more meaningful, “Merry Christmas!” I know there are many others who share my annoyance at the media and others who attempt to remove Christ from Christmas. He is so completely the reason for the season, to me and my fellow believers, that we feel we must defend his right to be the center of the celebration.
This year it finally occurred to me that letting myself become angry is not an especially Christian thing to do.
It does seem ridiculous to me that people are eliminating references to Christmas in order to avoid offending non-believers while they are insensitive to the offense given to Christians. However, that doesn’t mean that I need to launch an aggressive campaign to put Christ back into Christmas.
For Christians, he is always the center of this holy day. Should being wished a happy holy day offend anyone? If we were to find ourselves in some sort of alternate reality where it became the law to include the entire Christmas story in every reference to Christmas and the dreaded “Happy Holidays” were outlawed, would the non-believers be any more reverent in their observations of the day of Christ’s birth? Can anyone legislate piety?
For better or worse, to many people Christmas is a cultural winter celebration, based loosely upon the stories of Jesus Christ and Santa Claus.
Perhaps Christians need to establish an easement in our attitudes that will allow us to return the greeting, “Happy Holidays” with a cheerful, “Thank you. And a joyous holy day season to you!” Getting our feathers ruffled and causing a commotion, either in our emotions or our surroundings, benefits neither the season nor its reason.
Do you take umbrage when the store clerk says, “Have a nice day” and doesn’t really seem to mean it?
Most people give no more thought to their holiday greetings than they do to that ubiquitous pleasantry. They are simply trying to be nice and polite. Being chastised, even by an emphatic, “Merry CHRISTMAS, to you!”, is undeserved.
This time of peace and goodwill would be much better served by setting a Christ-like example in all our relationships. No one has ever been coerced into genuine belief, but many have been brought to Christ through the genuine love and respect of a Christian.
Merry Christmas, and Happy Holy Days to you in this precious Advent season.