There are certain guarantees in life: death, taxes and the annual and always 'controversial' what do we say to someone during the holidays, I mean Christmas or, man, never mind. Truth, I believe there are far more important issues to argue about than this and am indifferent as to how someone addresses me to acknowledge a season that has become far too commercialized anyway. However, sometimes like many others, I care, but not because of the actual topic, but because of the emotions people display when arguing this.
Except, I guess something that does bother me, is the annoying fact I have to think about this when I say it to someone. For example, when bumping into a casual acquaintance who I enjoy a quick hello and the usual small talk that can sometimes ensue, during the HOLIDAY or if you prefer, Christmas season, the exit goodbye has become awkward. Because unlike, "hey see you later" or "have a good day." It has progressed into, "Happy Holidays", which depending on your audience may have just enraged this particular individual, on the basis they like "Merry Christmas."
So here is what I do during the season of high octane capitalism. I size people up. I know, it is something awful to admit such a thing, but it is basic survival. If this is an issue someone cares about, you can create an enemy by pontificating the wrong phrase, so you must be prepared. Sometimes, you can become 'larger than life' in the eyes of your audience if you give them what they want. We must all look at these encounters the way Roman emperors surveyed the Coliseum during the gladiatorial games. (Ok somewhat dramatic, but you get my dig right?)
This is where really understanding your friends or neighbors is important. And although this last statement sounds sinister, it is actually quite positive. See, to truly know your friends or neighbors, you must pay actual attention to things they care about when you talk with them. This is a redeeming quality and should not be looked upon as negative. Because this means that when you speak to your friends and neighbors, your paying attention to the their topic of interest as opposed to "yes'ing them to death" so you can get back to concentrating on yourself.
So when chatting with your friends and neighbors, the proper exit phrase is a huge component to maintaining or elevating this current friendship. And if you have been listening to them throughout the years you have chatted with them, it should be easy to infer which phrase they like. In addition, if you have a particular friend who detests anything that even hints at "political correctness", then it is a sure bet this person will like the phrase "Merry Christmas." In fact, you may make this persons', if I can, Christmas, by telling them that. This person may even say something like "I always say Merry Christmas! Thank you for keeping Christmas, Christmas!"
Whereas, another friend who believes in a strict adherence to separating religion from any official government sanctioned holiday, would not appreciate a "Happy Holiday", but may even expect it. Regardless of why it is important to them, it is important to them, it in some ways, that should be respected.
And then you may encounter a friend like myself, who is indifferent to how I am addressed and simply prefer a nice conversation and find that awkward exit phrase unnecessary. This is where you can have a lot of fun. If I were chatting with someone and they said "Happy Chris Rock day", or said something to the affect, "let's make the holiday season an annual time where we recite 2Pac lyrics" Im all ears. In other words, I would find it funny. If someone says, "Happy Kwanza Jack", it would force me to smile and think that this person has a great sense of humor. And anytime we can laugh, we should take it.
See, in life stress encounters most of us on a daily basis. For those who are parents, the holiday's or Christmas season, can be torturous. Work still requires your presence, and fighting for parking spots at malls, while worrying how much cash you can spend, is an annual nightmare. Sure the season is fun and the music is nice, but let's face it, the holiday's are tough. It is like a crowded, bumpy train ride to a Bruins game. Fun when you get there, but a less than enthusiastic means of travel.
So why do we complicate this bumpy train ride by making it awkward? Hey if saying Merry Christmas makes you feel good, say it and scream it if you like. If you are one who prefers happy holidays, then shout it to the high heavens, or again if you prefer, the edge of the universe.
But let us respect one another and not take it so serious. Try and enjoy each other's company and for once, put our differences aside and grasp what I hope and perceive the true Christmas spirit is or was, which is to help each other.
So, if you see me on the street, you are welcome to say whatever you want to me; Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanza or even Happy 2pac day.
But regardless what you say, do it with a smile and let us genuinely wish each other well.
Cuz after all that is what Christmas is about, right?
Jack Kelly is the creator and writer of the website Coffee With Caesar. Check out more of his work at http://coffeewithcaesar.com/