Have you wished someone “Merry Christmas” yet?
“Don’t wish people ‘Merry Christmas,’” one person wrote on Facebook. “There are fourteen holidays in a one-month period and Christmas is only one of those holidays. Therefore, we should wish people, ‘Happy Holidays.’”
I squirmed. And I realized that part of my discomfort came from how I define the greeting and that not everyone defines it as I do. It means different things to different people. I had to ponder: when I wish other people Merry Christmas, what kind of Christmas do I want them to have?
What is Christmas?
Many people view Christmas as a time to gather with family and give and receive gifts from those we love. A “Merry Christmas means all the family gathers and everyone gets along, we buy all the perfect gifts without emptying our bank account, and we eat all the foods we love without gaining any weight. A bonus is getting all the presents on your wish list.
You can hope for all those things no matter which of the fourteen holiday you embrace. Saying “Happy Holidays’ covers the bases. It’s basically saying “have a great month,” just like we would say, “Have a great weekend.”
Here’s the problem with that version of Christmas and here’s why I can’t resort to “Happy Holidays.” What happens if family doesn’t show up or doesn’t get along, the lines are long at Costco, someone becomes seriously ill the week before Christmas, and this year’s presents are a bust. Is Christmas no longer merry? The version of Christmas greeting I embrace says you can still have a Merry Christmas even if things don’t go as you planned or you don’t get everything you want. It all has to do with the original purpose of Christmas.
God sent his son, Jesus in the form of a baby that would grow up, teach people about the ways of God, die in place of them to take the punishment for sin. He came back to life to prove He is the Son of God and extend the gift of eternal life to all who have faith in him.. WOW! That’s something worth celebrating! The love, hope, joy, and peace of Christmas stay constant even if we have little or nothing of what this world has to offer.
The kind of Merry Christmas I wish for you.
So, yes, I want my friends to have a Merry Christmas. I want to wish them my definition of a Merry Christmas. The definition I hold in my heart brings me joy regardless how much family surrounds my table or how many gifts encircle my tree. I can have a Merry Christmas and so can they even if my chairs are empty, my home is dark, and my cupboards are bare.
I want them to enjoy the love, hope, joy, and peace that only Jesus can give. I want them to catch all the amazing things God did to bring that story of His love to earth. The greatest joy someone could have at Christmas is to look at a Nativity scene and then up at Heaven and say, “Wow, God! You did all this for me? Thank you!”
But maybe some people, like my Facebook friend, aren’t ready to hear it. When I say, “Merry Christmas,” they hear something else. They hear their definition of “Merry Christmas.”
Creative ways to say “Merry Christmas”
So here’s my challenge. Let’s find other ways to share the true meaning of Christmas. Throughout the month of December, let’s exhibit the joy, love, hope, and peace God gives us to those around us. When others say “Merry Christmas,” we can smile and say, “I plan to! No matter what is happening in my life and our world, Christmas really is the most wonderful time of the year!” It will drive them crazy!
And if they aren’t ready to hear what you say, show them the meaning of Christmas through what you do. Be there in their darkened hours. Show compassion and mercy when they face long lines and smaller bank accounts. Set an extra place at your table on Christmas Day so they can see Jesus in you and hear what He has done for you.
I’ll say the greeting to all of you! MERRY CHRISTMAS! May you experience the joy, hope, love and peace embodied in what Christmas really means.
Enjoy my all-time favorite video of one my favorite Christmas songs, “How Should a King Come?” Talk about unfulfilled expectations! The original Christmas wasn’t what we would expect it to be. It was better. May you have that kind of Christmas this year and always.