Happy Holidays

This holiday season has been challenging for me. I’ve been holding myself back from my Scrooge-like tendencies and have been trying to smile my way through the whole thing. It’s not necessarily the holiday season that bothers me, but rather what it tends to bring out in people.

Take Walmart for example. Last year, Walmart made a decision to remove “Merry Christmas” from its lexicon, replacing it with a generic “Happy Holidays”, much to the consternation of several religious groups.

This year, according to Walmart spokeswoman Linda Blakely, Walmart “…”learned a lesson from last year,…”We’re not afraid to use the term ‘Merry Christmas.’ We’ll use it early, and we’ll use it often.”

Well, I for am so glad they learned their lesson. After all, why not bow down to specific religious groups to the incredible exclusion of those potential customers who may not celebrate the holiday?

And what about their employees who don’t necessarily celebrate the holiday? Are they also required to “use it early and use it often?”.

I think that this is a very touchy subject and one that even HR professionals can’t seem to agree upon, which completely catches me off-guard. I’m a big believer of keeping religion out of the workplace so as to (most importantly) mitigate risk to the company. It also calls for hurt feelings and distractions in the workplace.

Of course saying “Merry Christmas” to someone is usually said with the best of intent and should not be the cause celebre for myself or anyone else. (I usually respond “Happy Holidays”). It’s a matter how the subject is approached. I do not believe, however, that it is a secular greeting nor do I believe that the holiday is a secular holiday.

I have heard, once I might add, from an anonymous jerk HR professional , that “it’s a Christian nation and non-Christian’s should get used to it”. I wonder how effective that person is in treating all employees in a fair and equal manner?

Many retailers focus on Christmas during the holidays, it’s a fact of life. It’s just Walmart’s aggressive stand that makes me wonder about the non-Christian employee who may say something early and often to a customer that is something other than “Merry Christmas”.

Dawn Bryant, a spokeswoman at Best Buy Co, on the other hand, stated that they will “…continue to use the term holiday because there are several holidays throughout that time period, and we certainly need to be respectful of all of them”.

I’m with them. I wish you very happy holidays and a wonderful new year.

2 Replies to “Happy Holidays”

  1. Lori, I couldn’t agree with you more. I think our four fathers would have cringed at anyone calling this nation a Christian nation to the exclusion of everyone else. That’s not what they intended when they built this country.

    Even beyond the issue of what our country is, why wouldn’t people want to include other people in the joy of the holiday season regardless of what holiday they celebrate?

    Clearly, I’m preaching to the choir (an interesting phrase in this case!). Thank you for voicing your opinion. You are not alone.

  2. Hi Lori,
    I stumbled upon your blog after pursuit of more information on Timothy “Speed” Levitch. I found a mention of him on The Laughing Squid, then found a link here and couldn’t resist making a comment…
    I, too, couldn’t agree with you more about the “Merry Christmas” vs. “Happy Holidays” debate. Saying Happy Holidays covers everything, does not presume anything about anyone and is in no way offensive or condescending. (I guess unless one doesn’t celebrate any holidays, but for the sake of argument will go with this).

    Saying Merry Christmas, on the other hand, does not cover everything, is presumptuous and can be offensive to those celebrating other holidays. (Wal-Mart is all of the negative descriptives I just mentioned and more in my opinion!)

    As for me, technically Christian, but unafilliated and an ongoing student of Judaism. I didn’t celebrate Xmas and devoured some really great Chinese food instead of ripping through a stack of presents and putting on the old perma-smile.
    Happy New Year!

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