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Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

            If you come into the Pickens Progress between now and December 25th, you can tell us “Merry Christmas” and we’ll be glad to hear it.

            You can send us Christmas cards and enjoy the special Christmas services advertised in our newspaper.

            We like Christmas. We aren’t offended by the name. We like the manger display next door on the courthouse lawn.

            But if you feel better with it, you can come into our office and say “Happy Holidays,” or “Seasons Greetings” or even “Bon Hiver” – a French greeting that means “Have a good winter.” We won’t be bothered.

            Or, if you happened in to say “Hello,” “Howdy” or simply smile and utter the phrase “I want to place a full-page, full-color ad” we’d be equally jazzed. Actually, we’d be overjoyed with that last part. Hint, Hint.

            Cordiality during the holidays is a charming plus, regardless of the greeting used. Friendliness not word choice is paramount in our book. We won’t make assumptions about you by the first words out of your mouth. We won’t stereotype you based on your choice of greeting. As we see it, you can be an agnostic who wants to wish Merry Christmas or a front-row Baptist who likes the ring of Happy Holidays.

            And  it’s nobody else’s business.

            Where we take offense is with the efforts by some to assess  morals, political leanings or entire character based solely on how someone offers a  greeting at Christmastime. The Merry Christmas litmus test is little more than a strained attempt to show the devout nature of the one doing the judging. In the battle of conservative political correctness, these folks aren’t afraid to throw the first stone.

            The best example of the holiday greeting test gone wild are concerns expressed by some commentators that the big corporations who do use Merry Christmas may not really mean it.

            It’s frightening to know there are people out there trying to decipher religious views of national retail corporations based on how they welcome customers this season. And when stores do use the preferred phrase, Merry Christmas, these same holier-than-though windbags go to saying it’s not sincere.

            Do people really care if the management of some giant company properly wishes them a Merry Christmas? It’s polite but carries no more significance than when a clerk says “have a nice day” to all 1,000 customers who show up in the drive-thru.

            At times, somewhere (probably in New York or California) there were calculated movements to switch to Happy Holidays and Holiday trees with true forethought, but around here you can be sure no one gives it much thought.

            Or it was at least that way until the new forces of political righteousness hyped things up to make it an issue – “Come on, kids, help us find some Philistines using Happy Holidays this year. Then we can boycott them!”

            As for us at the Progress, give us a Merry Christmas or a Happy Holidays or even a “Have a good ‘un,” and we’ll be happy – even more so if you appear in good Christmas cheer as opposed to a stressed out “don’t-have-the-presents-wrapped” sort of funk.

            But don’t come around trying to make social distinctions based on the first two words of a greeting. Or we might have another two words for you – and they aren’t nearly as nice as Happy Holidays.

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