We live in a world that is timid to use the phrase "Merry Christmas" in conversation with people we meet in passing. Fear of offending someone of a different (or no) faith has spawned a plethora of alternative phrases - "Happy Holidays" - the generic catch-all, while some ignore Christmas as a whole and opt for Seasons Greetings or Happy New Year!
Why are some people offended? The core is a difference in belief systems (regardless of how big or small they are) and the perception that one person is pushing their beliefs on another, just casually, in passing.
Briefly stated no two people share the same beliefs. Period. Sure, groups of people may share a huge litany of common individual beliefs but at the core your beliefs are shaped by your experience and since no two people have identical experiences no two sets of belief are the same. Meaning - everyone who hears "Merry Christmas" should be offended, yes even "Christians." After all how can you know the person saying Merry Christmas believes in Christ the same way you do?
I would presume that most reading this are Christian or at least Christian leaning. Whatever the case may be, ask yourself how you would react if a Muslim friend/co-worker said "Eid Mubarak" upon seeing you in the break room?
The reason I point out why everyone (even those of the same faith) should be offended when greeted with "Merry Christmas" is to show that NO-ONE should be offended. We are all different and we all have different beliefs. Instead take the holiday greeting as it is intended. Translate Eid mubarak or Happy Hanukkah or Merry Christmas and instead of thinking about the implications of the phrase, focus on your intention in returning the phrase. Consider returning the phrase in kind, knowing that for a Christian to say "Eid Mubarak" doesn't deny, but rather magnifies and expands your faith. Think of what you really mean when you say "Merry Christmas." You are really saying you wish the person a safe year, that it will be a time of love and peace, that they will have a joyful time with family and loved ones - and so much more, things we should wish on everyone regardless of what we do or don't believe.
And with that I will end by saying Merry Christmas. Yes - in January I am saying Merry Christmas. I want you to carry that meaning and message with you regardless of what month is on the calendar. Please, when you see me, feel free to offer whatever greeting you want, I promise to take it in the spirit it is intended.
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