Words can’t do justice to the meaning of Christmas

SarahBeth Caplin

I’m one of those annoying people who will start playing Christmas music (the good kind!) immediately after Thanksgiving. I’ll decorate my room, wear my goofy Santa hat and go caroling at a local nursing home. The holiday season makes me nauseatingly giddy. But one thing I will not do is fuss over the Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays debate, because I feel it is a giant waste of time and emotion.?

The debate over which phrase is more politically correct comes from misunderstandings on both sides of the religious spectrum. Many non-Christians get offended when they receive a greeting regarding a holiday they do not celebrate. It comes off as insensitive and in-your-face. ?

However, it needs to be understood that, for the most part, saying “Merry Christmas” to someone is simply a habit. I’ll step out on a limb and suggest that most Christians aren’t purposely trying to be exclusive when they say this. I really think that most of them do this with good intentions, and for someone who loves this time of year as much as I do, the infamous “Christmas spirit” can be difficult to stifle. With that in mind, it’s unfair to accuse every “Merry Christmas” wisher of being arrogant, or even prejudiced, against those who don’t want anything to do with Christmas. ?

Now just in case my bias is starting to show through, don’t worry; I have a message for my fellow Christians as well. I think it’s completely ridiculous to say that the expression “Happy Holidays” is essentially taking Christ out of Christmas, when the word “holidays” (read: holy days) INCLUDES Christmas. Even a “season’s greetings,” especially if you believe that the reason for the season is Jesus, does no harm to the true meaning of Christmas. I have yet to hear a story of anyone being converted simply because they were wished a Merry Christmas instead of a Happy Holidays, or any other greeting of a similar vein.?

The real concern should be about the mass consumerism, greediness, the obsession with receiving gifts instead of giving them, and the lack of compassion for the families who can’t afford any. That does far greater damage to the meaning of Christmas than any alternative greeting.

?I encourage all of you, whether you celebrate Christmas or not, to use this time of holiday preparation to think about those less fortunate than yourself. Volunteer your time at a soup kitchen, a nursing home or donate clothes you don’t wear to people who can’t afford to be warm this winter. Spend time with your family, and remember to be thankful for them. And if you go to church, remember the most important thing that makes this season so great: the display of godly love in human form. We can’t genuinely love others if we spend more time fixating over the right words instead of demonstrating that love with our actions. If you serve others with gladness this season, you are exemplifying Christmas, rather than simply saying it.

?I wish you all a joyous season, whatever that means to you.

SarahBeth Caplin is a senior English major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].