I don't want to spark outrage throughout the eternal kingdom, but I think I'm okay with stores using the phrase, "Happy Holidays".
Do I think it's silly? Yes.
Do I think they should still be called Christmas trees, rather than holiday trees? Yes.
Mainly because that is what they are. We don't call them Autumn costumes, we call then Halloween costumes because that is what they are.
This year more than ever I find myself not just craving a boundary between the sacred and the profane, but taking the next step and using the energy it takes to make one. I just stopped myself short from correcting someone today when they asked my son what he wanted for Christmas. Two weeks ago when a store clerk told him to go ahead and ask for big candy for Christmas because Christmas was coming soon, I responded reflexively, "No, it's not."
It was easier to make my case because he still had Halloween candy at home. Also, I conceded to her that she was staring at mega-Christmas displays all day long so I understood.
If my 4 and a half year old starts getting wound up for Christmas a month or more away from the event how could it possibly live up to that kind of expectation and build-up? I don't want Christmas season to start because Walmart says it did.
There are many different holidays and events going on right now - the ones that impact my life boil down to two:
1) The culture's winter festival that goes by the name of Christmas and involves family visits, food, the exchanging of presents, greeting cards and winter festival specific decorations.
2) The traditions and rituals of my faith that mark the birth of the Messiah; an annual reminder of the world being turned upside down and the eternal light that makes sure that the darkness doesn't stand a chance.
I am for both of these. The stores help #1. They seriously get in the way of #2.
So all the better that in their greetings to me they use language that separates them from the Holy.
Happy Holidays! I will decorate my home, look forward to exchanging presents, welcome family and friends with open arms and bake some fun things and as best as I can I will do those things on my schedule and at my pace.
Merry Christmas! I will light the Advent candles and read the Advent devotional and lead worship through the end of November, December and into January declaring the Good news of the One who was and is and is to come!
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward (all).