Photo courtesy of Toronto History, Creative Commons

Photo courtesy of Toronto History, Creative Commons

This time of year I see a lot of friendly debate about whether or not to say “Merry Christmas” to people you don’t know well. What surprises me most is these discussions are largely generated between my Christian friends.

Some choose to go with the sterile “Happy Holidays” greeting to strangers. They explain since they don’t know if said strangers celebrate Christmas or not, they don’t want to offend them. Others claim since even non-Christians celebrate Christmas (Santa, Christmas trees and gift giving), why isn’t it okay to recognize that?

I can understand both sides of this coin. However, there are a couple of reasons I choose to say “Merry Christmas” to the person behind me in the grocery store.

Now, I’m no seminary graduate, but it’s my understanding that we Christians are instructed to spread the good news of salvation through Christ.

Mark 16: 15 “He said to them ‘Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.'”

What easier way to do that than during Christmas? Imagine what great conversations could spark if someone replied they don’t celebrate Christmas! By simply being inquisitive without judgement, and being open to whatever God has planned for that moment, a simple “Merry Christmas” greeting could turn into a relationship. Christ was all about relationships!

Another reason I say Merry Christmas is I fear we Christians are so worried about offending non-Christians we are often offending the One we claim to follow.

Galatians 1: 10 – “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

And really, if someone comes up to me and wishes me “Happy Hanukkah” or some other holiday greeting, I’m not going to punch them in the face or get my panties all in a wad. I will recognize that they are sharing their faith with a total stranger – and I’ll totally respect them for that. I’ll even say “Thank you!”. And mean it.