December 25th became an official Federal holiday in 1870 when signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant. Thus, Americans have been officially “Merry Christmasing” for 150 years.
So what are you to do in your business Holiday greetings?
As I do each year, I revisit this topic and share my point of view. I dig through the past year’s articles and try to get a pulse of what’s going on. And what’s going on is a shame.
“Merry Christmas” is now old-fashioned and out of style? Is Happy Holidays the only appropriate greeting? What I found was article after article after article about this being a controversy.
What was consistent, and don’t kill the messenger, whether you say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays,” tends to align with your political party. For goodness sakes — now the Holidays are officially politicized?
It’s the Holidays. One should be able to use their greeting of choice without repercussions. No matter what side you are on.
Inquiring Minds Want to Know
I do get emails from new readers every year asking me what is “appropriate.” I’m old enough to remember when you would offer good wishes without thought of having to worry about being politically correct. What do politics have to do with wishing someone good tidings anyway?
In researching this article, I found some “predictions” that folks are becoming less religious, intimating that “Merry Christmas” will disappear. I certainly do not see an indication of that in my little world.
All the TV commercials or advertising papers stuffed into my postal box do not seem to indicate that either. Instead, businesses are using “Merry Christmas” as a greeting of good tidings and cheer as an intro to suggest we buy their stuff. (The “reason for the season” conversation is a topic for another blog and post…)
Is Merry Christmas Offensive?
I think it is apropos to revisit the meaning of the word offensive…
· causing resentful displeasure; highly irritating, angering, or annoying:
· unpleasant or disagreeable to the senses: an offensive odor.
· repugnant to the moral sense, good taste, or the like; insulting:
· an offensive remark; an offensive joke.
· the position or attitude of aggression or attack:
· to take the offensive. an aggressive movement or attack:
· a carefully planned naval offensive.
I honestly cannot see how wishing anyone a “Merry Christmas!” is any of the above. However, it seems some folks do a full-time job being offended nowadays.
But I get it. We don’t want to offend anyone when it comes to our business email communications, right? That is an honest concern.
I know my intent when wishing someone a Merry Christmas. Subsequently, I do not worry about if they choose to be offended by my good wishes. Not my problem — it is theirs.
In fact, “Happy Holidays” in general is not a slam against Christmas. Rather, it is a more inclusive greeting covering Hanukkah to Christmas to New Year and everything in between. And I appreciate that sentiment as well.
Don’t Be Afraid to Offer Good Wishes
All my life, and for the decades I’ve been running my consulting practice, I have wished folks in person or written cards and emails “Merry Christmas!” or “Happy Hanukkah.” And I continue to do so to this day, including my business emails.
Not once have my actions been brought to my attention as not appreciated, nor have I alienated or lost a single contact by doing so. Instead, every single email is responded with a “Merry Christmas to you too!” — or just a “You too!”
And, when I moved from Chicago to the south over 15 years ago, I can tell you that there is a heck of a lot of “Merry Christmas’ing” going on. Folks down here wouldn’t have it any other way. So, there is probably a regional aspect to consider as well.
If I know someone’s preference, I do not hesitate to offer them specific greetings of the season. Or, if I’m addressing a large audience, I use Happy Holidays! Not because I am trying to avoid offending anyone; rather, I am trying to offer mass good wishes.
So here’s the bottom line… Do what feels sincere for you, and don’t be offended if seasonal greetings, regardless of your personal preference, are offered to you. And with that, my friends, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday Season!