Yael T. Abouhalkah

It’s OK to say ‘Merry Christmas’ to anyone you want

Updated: 2013-12-24T00:06:43Z

By Yael T. Abouhalkah

The Kansas City Star

Go ahead: It’s OK to say “Merry Christmas” to anyone you want this year. You don’t have to bend over backward to be politically correct with “Happy holidays.”

Normally I ignore the silly “War on Christmas” that Fox News trumpets at this time each year. But one part of it does ring true, the one where the talking heads bemoan the trend away from wishing people a “Merry Christmas.”

Indeed, a new opinion poll shows that slightly more businesses now favor the “Happy holidays” expression over the old standby.

I think that’s too bad. After all, Dec. 25 is “Christmas” in America. (It says so right there on my Hallmark calendar.)

So for the great majority of Americans, when you say “Merry Christmas” to a friend, co-worker, person you meet in the street or someone at a business, you are hoping they have an enjoyable Dec. 25.

Unless you are talking to someone at the Christian church you attend, you are not — like too many opposed to the phrase “Merry Christmas” contend — trying to foist off any Christian beliefs on the person you just talked to.

You are not trying to ram down their throats the notion that they have to believe in the same religion you do.

The “Merry Christmas” phrase has been in the news, good and bad, recently.

• In Texas the legislature passed the “Merry Christmas Bill,” which allows people to celebrate that holiday and others in public schools.

• In Arizona a Salvation Army bell-ringer reportedly was slugged for saying “Happy holidays” rather than “Merry Christmas.”

• There’s a debate in part of the atheist/agnostic community about whether people should be offended by the use of “Merry Christmas.”

Note, of course, that I have written it’s OK to say Merry Christmas to anyone you want. That means you have the right to not say it as well, especially if you think it might offend someone of a different religious belief. And if you say “Merry Christmas” to someone and they get offended, well, file that away for the future.

Note, also, that if someone says “Happy holidays” to me, I have no reason to be upset. That person is being more inclusive of all the holidays late in the calendar year. That’s fine for them. I appreciate the greeting.

As for me, I like to say “Merry Christmas” in the days running up to that holiday. It’s just appropriate at this time of the year.

To reach Yael T. Abouhalkah, call 816-234-4887 or send email to abouhalkah@kcstar.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/YaelTAbouhalkah.

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