Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Chill Out About Christmas

Hello Polite Readers!

I have a confession to make -- I don't celebrate Christmas. For me it's just a quiet day at home with my husband. Maybe we'll go out for Chinese food. And we'll respond to every "Merry Christmas" with a smile and a "you too". Do you know why? Because it's silly to get offended over someone else's well-wishes.

There are a lot of reasons to not celebrate Christmas. You might belong to a religion that celebrates a different holiday, or no holidays, or you might be living a strictly secular life (though I do know secular people who choose to observe the non-religious trappings of Christmas because they enjoy them). Those are all cool, valid reasons and you should feel free to discuss them with your friends and family if you want, but you don't really need to tell the cashier at the bookstore that you actually celebrate Channukah, and it's actually already over.

Similarly, if you do celebrate Christmas, it's silly to get offended when someone wishes you a generic "happy holidays." Accept it. After all, even if you don't celebrate Channukah or Kwanzaa or the Solstice or Festivus, you still want to be happy on those days, don't you? And on New Years Eve and New Years Day and Boxing Day and whatever else falls in December and January, right?

Remember that whenever you get offended that someone gave you the "wrong" holiday greeting, you're serving as a bad ambassador for your faith or lack thereof. Do you really want to be remembered as the mean old lady who snapped "MERRY CHRISTMAS" to a poor stressed-out postal clerk? Or would you rather keep the social engine well-lubricated by smiling and saying "Thank you, you too."

There's a time and a place for your opinions. If you are annoyed that everyone assumes you celebrate Christmas, complain about it on Facebook. Write a blog post. But don't take it out on the already stressed-out service employees who are probably just saying what their manager told them to say. This late in the season, they're probably not even thinking about it anymore, they're just counting down the days until the holiday rush is over and things get back to normal.

And so, my dear readers, I wish you a happy whatever it is that you choose to celebrate, and a great new year. I will still be writing columns on Sun and Weds even over the holidays, so if you have a question you'd like me to address, please send it to


  1. i do get offended when people tell me merry xmas because it just shows how unaware they are of their privilage. i don't say that though...i just say, "oh! thank you so much, you too!" because it's nice to have a different greeting sometimes.

    what drives me NUTS though is that a company i have to call for work PICKS UP THE PHONE by saying merry xmas. that i think is just a little ridiculous.

    1. That's a good point about privilege, which is why I recommend discussing it with your family and friends and posting on FB or blogging. There's a lot of good ways to try to educate the world :)

      It is weird and a little unprofessional to answer the phone with Merry Christmas, unless you are running a seasonal Christmas-themed business. I consider it more of a parting remark than a salutation, really.