The Merry Christmas versus Happy Holidays debate needs to end. I really cannot believe how petty people can be, especially during a season of giving and generosity when you’d think we would be even more open-minded than usual. I am not Christian, but I certainly don’t take offense when someone tells me, “Merry Christmas.” I’ll even say it back to them, now that they have openly indicated their specific holiday of choice.
So you might imagine my surprise when I recently received the following email from a customer regarding a “Holiday Sale” I had marketed for my employer:
Subject: Holiday Sale B.S.
We don’t buy Christmas gifts at “Holiday Sales”. Hope this anti-Christmas ad brings you enough business from the Antitheists, Muslims, ISIS, Jihad, et al to make up for the loss of us Christians.
I was so taken aback by this person’s negativity that my first reaction was outrage. Not only was his letter ignorant (how can a “struggle” buy goods?), it was also seemingly at complete odds with the Christian ideology to which he apparently subscribes. I have received too many customer complaints to count, but never anything like this. I mean, who could actually type those words and press “send?” Was he drunk? Had he just been spurned by a Mujahid lover? And what does Archer have to do with any of this? (Sorry…) I really wanted to give him a piece of my mind. Instead, I took some time to cool down and collected my thoughts, then wrote the following reply:
Dear Mr. Customer,
I am sorry that our spirit of inclusiveness has inadvertently turned you away. Our business serves a wide demographic of people from all walks of life, and our employees themselves represent a diverse selection of religious and spiritual beliefs. We do not share your opinion that a “holiday sale” is in some way demeaning to Christmas or Christianity. Our Christian employees already enjoy many benefits—such as the store being closed on Sundays and Christmas Day—that we unfortunately cannot match for our employees of other faiths. Offering a holiday sale is really the least we can do to recognize the diversity of our staff and community, and is in no way counter to how we feel Jesus Christ would have acted Himself, with a show of good faith and fraternal love for all humankind. (At the very least, we definitely don’t think He would have called it “B.S.”)
From all of us here—Christians, Jews, Bahai’s, Atheists, et al—we hope you have a very merry Christmas.
I had originally ended with “we wish you very merry Christmas, and happy holidays,” but I deleted the last bit after realizing I was only including in order to twist the knife a little. After all, I have zero problem telling someone “merry Christmas” who has openly identified himself as preferring it over other holiday-themed salutations.
Still, it boggles my mind that in 2014, people can take so much offense at something that aims only to be inclusive.