Wednesday, December 16, 2015

It's OK to Say Merry Christmas!

Dear Friends,

“Happy Holidays” said the sales clerk as I walked away. I turned back to her and looked in her eyes for a moment. “Merry Christmas,” I responded. Her face lit up and she said, “Oh yes! Merry Christmas! Thank you for saying that to me!” No other customers were in line so I asked if (I named the store) told her that she should say happy holidays and she looked a little confused. She said that they hadn’t told the employees what to say but everyone said happy holidays and she assumed that was just what she supposed to say. We had a nice conversation about our Christian faith for a few minutes...

I have no qualms about saying  “Merry Christmas” to people after they have just wished me a happy holiday. It always frees people to then tell me, “Merry Christmas.” I do not hesitate to say “Merry Christmas” because I understand the math. The most recent surveys show that 96% of people in America celebrate Christmas! That number may surprise you but even 81% of non-Christians in our Nation celebrate Christmas. That means that eight out of every ten atheists, agnostics and people of other religions celebrate Christmas. One third of American Jews have a Christmas tree in their home. 76% of Buddhists and 73% of Hindus celebrate Christmas. On Al Abrbiya News, a commentator complained about the increasing number of American Muslims who are now celebrating Christmas. Of course most non-Christians view Christmas more as a cultural holiday than a celebration of the birth of Christ, but they are certainly not offended when we wish them a “Merry Christmas.”

When you do the math, you realize that if you say “Merry Christmas” to one hundred people, you may say that to four people who don’t celebrate Christmas. Who are those four? Atheists who prefer to sit out the holiday. Wiccans and other Pagans who prefer to celebrate the winter solstice. And the one million Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Church of Christ denomination who don’t acknowledge Christmas. But of those four percent, only a very small percentage admits to being actually “offended” if someone says “Merry Christmas” to them. According to some atheist websites, most atheists who do not celebrate Christmas, are not at all offended if someone wishes them a “Merry Christmas.” They just say “Merry Christmas” right back.

I was unable to find actual statistics on how many people are genuinely offended by someone saying “Merry Christmas” but a conservative guess would be that 1-2% of Americans might possibly be offended. And that would mostly be those who are obsessed with being politically correct. Those who would be just as offended if they sneezed and a stranger said, “God bless you.” 

If I say “Merry Christmas” to one hundred people and one or two are possibly offended, I’m okay with those odds. That’s because you and I offend people all the time. That’s life. To offend means to cause another person to feel upset, annoyed, or displeased. Let’s just take me as an example. I offend some people solely because I am a white, Christian male. 32-34% of non-White Americans will not like me because of my race. Some women will be irritated with me and instantly dislike me because they simply don’t like assertive males. I offend progressive liberals because I believe in a Bible that they say contains “hate speech.” I’ve offended conservative Christians because I wear a beard. When I order a medium-rare hamburger in a restaurant, I no doubt upset and offend the animal-lover vegan (5% of all Americans) who is picking away at his/her fruit salad at the next table.
And you my friend offend (upset, displease) people simply because of your skin-color, race, religion, economic status, and you really upset them when you remind them of that dreadful ex-wife or ex-husband! Are you okay with eating a hamburger or having a package of boneless, skinless Chicken Breasts in the shopping cart and potentially offending 5% of all Americans? Are you also okay with wishing someone a Merry Christmas and potentially offending 1-2% of all Americans? You offend a greater percentage of people just by being you!

We are letting a very small but powerful political movement in our Nation strangle the Jesus right out of our Christmas season. We need to deflate Santa and the Grinch and put the Nativity back on our front lawns. We need to stop being ashamed of our faith. We need to remind people that Christmas is about Jesus. We need to boldly tell people “Merry Christmas,” and when we do, they are then empowered with the same boldness to tell others “Merry Christmas.” It’s time to let people know, “Hey, it’s okay to say Merry Christmas!” Amen?

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