Correcting someone’s holiday phrase is a fairly ironic way to show your Christmas spirit.Every year, I see articles (as well as blog posts, Facebook statuses, etc.) where a person or group expresses irritation at generic winter holiday greetings — anything other than "Merry Christmas" — and threatens a boycott. (Here's a recent example: Happy holidays, Merry Christmas or festive feuds? One way or another, retail greetings rankle some U.S. shoppers)
All the assumptions have changed.
I get that. I really do. I grew up with the same assumptions.
Like them, I've sat in the audience at a public school concert, watching my kindergartener sing from a program that included everyone's holiday except for mine. (And Up on the Housetop doesn't count.)
Like them, I've been saddened by city governments' refusal to allow nativity scenes in the public square.
Like them, every December 25, I celebrate the birth of my savior. And I wish people a "Merry Christmas."
But let's be honest. The consumer-driven spending frenzy that characterizes a contemporary American Christmas bears very little resemblance to the event it's supposed to be celebrating.
And if I find myself getting annoyed because a cashier or waiter wishes me "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas," I'm probably neither happy nor merry.
More importantly, if I insist on my way, I'm probably forgetting the real reason for the season: God's mercy and grace in the form of a human infant, wrapped in rags and lying in a manger.
If God is humble enough to sleep in an animal's feeding trough, maybe His followers can respond to even the most generic seasonal greeting with grace.
It's not really our holiday anyway. It's His.
Let’s celebrate the holidays, of course, but let’s live the incarnation. Let’s advocate for the poor, the forgotten, the lonely, and the lost. Let’s wage war against hunger and oppression and modern-day slavery. Let’s be the kind of people who get worked up on behalf of others rather than ourselves.
Rachel Held Evans