Merry Christmas to You and You and You

I’m amused and perplexed at the present furor over retail stores displaying “Happy Holidays” as opposed to “Merry Christmas” etc. etc.

I get e-mails from Christian sources who keep me posted on how references to God, the Bible and Christianity are gradually being pushed out of the public square. I share some of the concerns. But this one regarding retail stores shows that we Christians don’t always think things through before causing a stir. It’s no wonder we are scoffed and snickered at sometimes.

I seem to remember not so many years ago that Christian voices reverberated, “Christmas is getting too commercial”. “We need to put Christ back in Christmas”. The sentiment was that commercialism was making Christmas into just another marketing season. There was too much commercialism in Christmas. Now we are saying we want more connection between Christmas and commercial ventures.

Let me hasten to explain that I don’t think December 25 can be reliably established as the birth date of Jesus. Just Google around and you will find lots of material to support the idea that the true date of Jesus’ birthday is very much a mystery. Further investigation on the holiday of Christmas and how it came to be celebrated religiously is also filled with some interesting queries. There are some pretty pagan practices spliced into our Christmas traditions. So “putting Christ back into Christmas” is a phrase that is somewhat of an irony in itself. But enough on that.

Back to the concern of stores advertising “holiday trees” as opposed to “Christmas trees” and such……

I think it’s ridiculous for merchandisers to change a centuries old terminology so followers of other world religions will not be offended. (Recently some notable Jewish spokespersons have said the same. They think it is ridiculous….They said they are not the least bit offended by the term “Christmas trees” or the phrase “Merry Christmas”.) Jesus in the manger is not the same as Jihad. Peace on earth, good will to all…..

But dear Christians, if we want to let the name of Jesus be heard, let it come from our own lips. Let’s not depend on the local merchandisers to do our witnessing and praising.

I was in my local “big name” discount store the other day. It is one of the ones deciding not to use the term “Christmas” on their displays. I was at the check out and the young lady handed me my bag and receipt. I was a step away when the impulse hit. I spun around and the check out girl looked up. I made eye contact and smiled. “Merry Christmas”, I said. Her eyes kind of looked up and to the right like we all do when we are mulling something over. Then she looked back and said with a nod and a smile, “And Merry Christmas to you sir”.

About that time the loudspeaker squawked something about customer assistance in electronics. I went on my way and as I stepped back into the razor-sharp December breeze, I knew that something important had just happened….far more important than a merchadiser’s holiday phraseology. Commerce cannot do what needs to be done. It becomes too commercialized.

It takes a personal touch. May we each exercise our privilege and our responsibility to greet one another in the most personal of ways. In this and every other season.

Merry Christmas and May God’s richest blessings be yours. Peace on earth, good will to all.

About Gary Cleveland

An old chunk of coal waiting to become a diamond some day. I spend the bulk of my time focused on spiritual development. I teach, preach and stand by the hurting and wounded. I believe our heavenly Father offers us daily opportunities to discover who we are and what we can yet become. I serve as a bringer of good news in and around the city of Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
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