It seems the thing now to share on social media is you will be saying Merry Christmas because you are putting Christ back in Christmas. When was it ever determined that a person was not permitted to use that greeting at this time of the year? And why is it deemed wrong to wish someone Happy Holidays? Now before you get all ticked off at me, let me give you my feelings about this.
I was not brought up to believe Christmas started Thanksgiving afternoon. Heck, there were radio stations playing all Christmas music right after Halloween this year! In my family, the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve was preparation time for the Christmas Holidays. Baking — lots of it. All the traditional cookies, etc. Tons of them. All boxed and wrapped well and placed in the freezer. Crafts of one sort or another were made.
The Christmas tree was put up and decorated on Christmas Eve. Christmas carols were played while we marveled and reminisced at our favorite ornaments, as we hung them on the tree. The final touch was the silver tinsel my mother hung on the tree. This was her job. No-one could do it. She took each piece of silver and hung it just right so that it hung down in the perfect icicle formation. No matter how misshapen the tree was to begin with, it always ended up beautiful.
We would get together with our relatives and then go to midnight mass. Or at least we did that when we were older. Prior to being old enough, we willingly went to bed early because morning would come so much sooner. This was the beginning of the Holidays.
Christmas morning was gift opening and families gathering in one house or another. All the abundant food was set out and eating went on throughout the day. Neighbors and friends stopped by to have a drink and pass on their Merry Christmases. I don’t ever remember any one giving gifts. That was not what it was about. It was celebrating the birth of Jesus.
And the celebration didn’t end on Christmas afternoon. The tree wasn’t put out at the curb. The carols didn’t stop playing on the radio. Christmas season went on. More people would stop by for a drink and some Christmas goodies days after.
And the tree never came down before Epiphany — January 6. Why? Because it was Twelfth Night. The Three Kings had arrived to welcome Baby Jesus! Three Kings Day! And it was the Baptism Day of Jesus by John the Baptist
So when I wish you a Happy Holiday, I’m not taking Christ out of Christmas, I’m remembering the entire holiday season. I find it so depressing to look out in my neighborhood and see all the trees out at the curb late Christmas afternoon. To me it shouldn’t be over. Wait for the Wise Men!
I mourn for the real holiday. The one that meant something other than shopping and gifts. Just because the retail shopping season is over doesn’t mean Christmas should be over, as well. Why are we in such a rush to start Christmas on Thanksgiving and end it Christmas day? Why can’t we start it Christmas week and end it after the New Year? Why can’t we wait for the Wise Men to get there?
I’m going to continue to wish you Happy Holidays and you can wish me Merry Christmas, but don’t mistake my greeting as not putting Christ in Christmas because if I see your tree at the curb before the Wise Men get there, I’ll know you’ve confused the Christmas shopping season with the Christmas Holiday season. Think of the shopping part as the baking and creating part of my Holiday past.