Season’s greetings

‘Tis the season, not only for corny holiday cliches, but for bickering about the proper way to wish people a happy merry whatever.

Here’s a suggestion: Let’s try to have one consistent standard. If you don’t want to hear Christians whining about being greeted with “happy holidays” or “season’s greetings,” then don’t whine about people greeting you with “Merry Christmas.”

Not because it’s the same — it’s not. There’s a big difference between being inclusive (e.g. “season” or “holidays”) and being exclusive (referring to one specific religion’s holiday, e.g. “Christmas”).

But the principle is, if someone’s trying to be nice, do you give them some credit for that, or do you sneer at their attempt just because it doesn’t measure up to your standards, or meet your preferences?

On the other hand, if you want to preserve the right to complain loudly and vociferously about  being wished “Merry Christmas” (and you don’t mind that you’re playing into every negative stereotype about atheists being “strident” or “militant” or “politically correct” or whatever), then understand that other people have just as much right to complain, just as loudly and vociferously, about being wished “happy holidays” or whatever.

Sure, complaining about insufficient inclusivity isn’t the same as complaining about insufficient exclusivity, but free speech is free speech, even for people who are wrong or stupid or bigoted or whatever. So pick a standard, and stick with it.

(pic via Atheist Holiday Greeting Cards — collect them all!)

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8 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Stepan on December 3, 2009 at 11:53 am

    Thank you! I tend to wish people “Merry Christmas”, because even though it doesn’t hold a religious meaning to me, it’s still my family’s (cultural) tradition. And yes, I even made an advent wreath with my kids and will set up a nativity!

    But I’m just as happy wishing my Jewish friends happy Hannukah or going the generic “Seasons’ Greetings” route.

    I think some people are just looking for reasons to feel offended or persecuted. Which tends to lead to violations of your etiquette rules #1 and #5.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Sandra on December 3, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    If a store clerk wishes me a “happy (specific holiday)” I wish them a “happy (different holiday)” … here’s the important part … I do it sincerely, and cheerfully. I admit the intent is a bit snarky, but I don’t let that show through.
    I don’t mind if a store clerk returns specific greetings to customers (obviously the customer has expressed a holiday preference prior). What I think is wrong is to make ASSumptions about the holiday preference of customers ESPECIALLY when a store clerk works for a corporation.

    That said, if a friend or stranger (who is not on the clock) wishes me a “merry christmas” I will wish them the same, likewise for other specific holiday wishes. There is a difference between representing oneself, and representing a company.

    Reply

  3. Great post. I’m a christian but I normally say “Happy Holidays” because I want to sincerely offer goodwill for the season. Sometimes it is embarrassing to be a Christian because others are such hateful people. We aren’t all though.

    Reply

  4. Posted by Fernando on December 13, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    My Festius Widsh for the Rest of US…
    My wish for us all, and those you may hold dear;
    May we remeber to love one another-
    not only thru the winter solstice but throughout the year…

    Fernando

    Reply

  5. Posted by Fernando on December 13, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    okay let’s try this with a spell checker!!

    My Festius Wish for the Rest of US…
    My wish for us all, and those you may hold dear;
    May we remember to love one another-
    not only thru the winter solstice but throughout the year…

    Fernando

    Reply

  6. Posted by Fernando on December 13, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    Festivus…oh…why bother…going back to the bar…enjoy the season!!

    Fernando

    Reply

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