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Business Emails & “Merry Christmas”

Should businesses say "Merry Christmas"?

December 25th became an official United States Federal holiday in 1870 when President Ulysses S. Grant signed it into law. Thus, Americans have been officially “Merry Christmasing” for 153 years.

So what are you to do in your business Holiday greetings?

Each year, I revisit this topic and share my point of view. In addition, I dig through articles and try to get a pulse of what’s happening.

Is “Merry Christmas” now old-fashioned and out of style? Is “Happy Holidays” the only appropriate greeting? I found article after article after article about this being a controversy.

What was consistent, and don’t kill the messenger, was that whether you say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” tends to align with your political party. The Holidays have been political for some time. Isn’t that sad?

It’s the Holidays! One should be able to use one’s greeting of choice without repercussions or commentary. Either way, it is offering good wishes after all. No matter what side you are on.

Inquiring Minds Want to Know

Every year, I get emails from new readers asking me what is “appropriate.” I’m old enough to remember when you would offer good wishes without the thought of having to worry about being politically correct. So 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 quietly fade away. I certainly do not see an indication of that in my little world. But then again, it is my little world, and I like it that way.

All the TV commercials or advertising papers stuffed into my postal box do not indicate that either. Instead, businesses use “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?

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 in the above. However, some folks make it a full-time job to take offense.

But I get it. We don’t want to offend anyone regarding 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 if they choose to be offended by my good wishes. It’s not my problem — it is theirs. Wishing someone a merry anything is a thoughtful act — why do some make the choice to be offended?

“Happy Holidays,” in general, is not a slam against Christmas. Instead, it is a more inclusive greeting covering Hanukkah, Christmas, 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 business 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 email is responded to with a “Merry Christmas to you too!” — or a simple “You too!”

And, when I moved from Chicago to the south over 19 years ago, I can tell you that there is a lot of “Merry Christmas’ing” going on. Folks down here wouldn’t have it any other way. So, there is a regional aspect to consider as well.

I offer them specific season’s greetings if I know someone’s preference. Or, if I’m addressing a large audience, I use Happy Holidays! Not because I am trying to avoid offending anyone; instead, I am trying to offer mass good wishes.

Merry Christmas!

So here’s the bottom line… Do what feels sincere for you, and don’t be offended if seasonal greetings are offered to you, regardless of your preference.

And with that, my friends, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday Season!

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