I Always Respond Merry Christmas, 7 Reasons Why You Should Too

Merry Christmas

November 28, 2016

Allan Stevo

Living in a very specific American big city (New York) in a very specific industry (commercial real estate), a good percentage of the people I encounter in my day to day are not celebrants of Christmas. I understand the necessity of the phrase “happy holidays” in that situation for some people who want to say something nice but are too awkward to otherwise covey a message of religion without insulting.

I understand how uncomfortable discussions on religion can be if you make them that way. Everything can be at ease even on the complicated topic of religion if you allow them to be at ease. Sometimes I initiate “Happy Chanukah” to someone I know to be a practicing Jew. Sometimes I say happy holidays. Sometimes I say nothing in initiation – it’s easier to say nothing sometimes than to risk offending someone who walks through life looking for reasons to be offended.

Most of the people I encounter in my day to day are either a Christian celebrant of Christmas or a celebrant of secular Christmas. (1) As much as the two concepts may offend a member of the religious right, Secular Thanksgiving and Secular Christmas are realities in America, and healthy expressions of a culture that welcomes assimilation and the sincretic blending and shifting of a culture.(2)

If I am in Slovakia or virtually anywhere else in the U.S. or virtually anywhere else in the west Merry Christmas or its local equivalent gets the job done just fine.

In an effort to not offend, we in America have watered down culture to the extent that there’s hesitation in saying Merry Christmas. I understand the complex situation corporations are in. They seek to provide for a customer and to give them as little friction in the buying process as possible. Workers are therefore carefully trained to say “happy holidays.”

If at work one must be an automaton, it certainly does not mean at home one must be an automaton, nor does it mean one must be an automaton through ones life. (3) There is always risk of automaton creep though in which an automaton style job and its automaton style thinking creeps into other aspects of your own life or the lives of others.

If you celebrate secular Christmas, but more importantly if you identify as Christian, I encourage you to always respond “Merry Christmas” as much as you can. The religious views of Christ helped shape the successful experiment of the West over the past two millennia or so. The man was a thinker who has had untold positive effects on the world. There is no shame in celebrating the man’s birth when you live in western culture. (4) I’d go so far as to wonder if anyone who doesn’t pay respect to that prophet as at least a great thinker and leader of men has a little something wrong with them, but that is a discussion I leave for jovial moments, perhaps over a beer with a soon to be friend rather than as a piece of demagoguery – which is a direction this piece could easily go.

I’m lucky to have been raised in a mainline Christian denomination. The values that upbringing has provided me are perfect for success in the modern world and to foster in me a healthy sense of individualism as someone living in the west. Instead of rejecting them at some difficult crisis moment between childhood and now, I am proud to have taken the time and energy to have nurtured those values in myself, (5) often through hard periods with lots of questioning and struggling. I live in a country where maintaining those mainline Christian values through life is true for the vast majority of people.

I have many more positive things to say about Christianity, but just this small part is enough for me to understand and keep in mind each time I respond Merry Christmas. I hope you too can think over what the celebration of Christmas means to you, whether that be secular or religious, and to make yourself a vow to always respond Merry Christmas from this point forward.

While life as an automaton is easy, it’s nice to give a little cultural reinforcement to the ideas you believe in and to challenge the automatons a little by telling them something they don’t expect to hear (6) – Merry Christmas – and making them and their programmers a little more comfortable with the statement of shared cultural value that is at the heart of American culture and the West. (7)

Allan Stevo writes on Slovak culture at www.52inSk.com. He is from Chicago and spends most of his time traveling Europe and writing. You can find more of his writing at www.AllanStevo.com. If you enjoyed this post, please use the buttons below to like it on Facebook or to share it with your friends by email. You can sign up for emails on Slovak culture from 52 Weeks in Slovakia by clicking here.

Photo credit: skyhdwallpaper.com

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