Merry Christmas is a lovely thing to say to someone who celebrates Christmas. Just like Happy Ramadan, Happy Hannukah, Happy Kwanzaa, and Happy Solstice are lovely things to say to people who celebrate those holidays.
It makes us glad to say “Merry Christmas” to people at our church each December. But just as it doesn’t make sense to say “Happy Birthday” to someone who is not celebrating her birthday, it also doesn’t make much sense to say “Merry Christmas” to someone who is not celebrating Christmas.
As we see it, Starbucks removing the words “Merry Christmas” from their cups is a step toward inclusion not exclusion. It does not stop anyone from celebrating Christmas but it does, perhaps, make more people than before feel welcomed and not like “outsiders” in their stores in December.
Christmas has become highly commercialized. This is nothing new – we talk about it each year. Perhaps having fewer Christmas-branded products in our stores is actually a big step in the right direction. The reality has been that Christmas sells products. Christmas has become a marketer’s best friend. That’s what should offend us. So, let’s not fight to save that alliance between Christmas and products.
Let’s take the focus away from what’s in stores and point it back toward what lives in our hearts and in our relationships with one another. Who did the babe in the manger invite us to be? If Christmas is sacred to you, eat a meal with someone who is hungry and pick up the tab. Get to know someone who needs a warm coat and take them shopping for one. Advocate for someone who is being bullied at work. Do justice. Love kindness. Walk humbly. Build relationships.
Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays,
Reverend Nancy Petty & Morgan Siem