Every year, not long after the Thanksgiving holiday, America somehow finds itself embroiled in yet another “Merry Christmas” versus “Happy Holidays” debate. And it’s tiresome.
If you add in the Donald Trump factor, though, it takes the question over what glad tidings you should bring to another level entirely. Remember what Trump promised on the campaign trail back in October of 2015?
“I’m a good Christian,” the then-Republican presidential frontrunner said. “If I become president, we’re gonna be saying Merry Christmas at every store. …You can leave happy holidays at the corner.”
Not only did that focus on something well beyond the reach of any president, but the Christmas greetings used by inhabitants of this fair land are of absolutely no national concern. Apparently, though, Trump lapdog Corey Lewandowski today believes Trump has kept his promise and changed the societal holiday landscape back to what it always should have been:
Someone please inform Corey that Trump is not the president yet, and that Americans are free to use whatever greeting they desire.
Despite Lewandowski’s obvious confusion, the phrase “Merry Christmas” has not been saved by Trump because it was not teetering on the edge of destruction in the first place.
It is true that many progressives use the greeting “Happy Holidays” to separate themselves from the religious meaning of Christmas. After all, Christmas is a time set aside to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. As a Christian, this is a special time for me and others of like mind. However, that doesn’t mean I’m offended by those who use “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings,” either to purposefully avoid “Merry Christmas” or simply as part of their grab bag of festive expressions. Why? Because, to me, Christmas will always mean more than a phrase used in passing. The depth of meaning can never be touched by the personal preferences of others. If hearing “Happy Holidays” can actually chip away at the foundation of someone’s faith, then that faith wasn’t sturdy enough to begin with.
While there may be something of a societal backlash against the religious meaning of Christmas, it is nothing new. Modern-day Santa Claus has no religious meaning whatsoever, and is celebrated and spoken of in both Christian and secular households. What of that? The tales and songs of Santa Claus are deeply entrenched in American culture. But saying “Happy Holidays” is the ultimate threat? Please.
Last year, Starbucks was highlighted as the “bad guy” for its plain red holiday cups. Those cups did not have any symbols of Christmas, trees, presents, angels, snow, or sledding. Because of that, evangelist Joshua Feuerstein launched #MerryChristmasStarbucks to bring Christmas back to the coffee chain. Patrons were to say their names were “Merry Christmas” in an attempt to force baristas to write that on their cups and save Christmas for good!
Chintzy? Definitely. More than anything, it showed Feuerstein was focused on affecting that which doesn’t define Christmas at all. Neither a coffee cup nor a passing phrase truly embodies the meaning of Christmas.
This season, the Starbucks cups are decorated with festive – secular and religious – holiday designs. It seems Feuerstein and others haven’t learned their lesson, though.
“Looks like the American people have been heard,” Feuerstein said. “And we not only saved Christmas, we elected Donald Trump as our next president and saved the country!”
Huh? Christmas was not in need of saving, and even if it did need our help, neither campaigning at your local coffee shop nor electing Donald Trump would be the place to start.
This year, as in every year, Christmas is alive and well. It certainly isn’t fading into the background because of the phrases people are using. Just wait until next year, though. I’m sure we’ll have this discussion all over again.