So the Levites stilled all the people, saying, ‘Be quiet, for this day is holy; do not be grieved.’ Nehemiah 8:11
There is a lot of discussion nowadays about this word that is floating around: holiday. As we receive “happy holiday” wishes and observe the increased presence of “holiday” festivities, there is concern that this word is being used in the place of Christmas and that we as a culture run the risk of forgetting the savior whose birth is the reason we celebrate Christmas. I have even known some folks who will “correct” store greeters and Salvation Army bell ringers, directing them to say ‘Merry Christmas,’ because they feel so strongly that this other more general word is an affront.
I can sympathize with their concern, but I don’t necessarily share it. Being told “Happy Holidays” is a wish that I welcome as much as “Merry Christmas.” Here is why.
1. Christmas is a holiday. I don’t mean to state the obvious, but by wishing me a happy holiday, a greeter or receptionist is not failing to wish me a merry Christmas. They are wishing me joy on whatever day I consider to be sacred, for whatever reason is meaningful to me. That seems to me to be a rather gracious thing, particularly since there are other sacred days celebrated this time of year. This general wish is a courteous one, presuming that they care at all what they are saying to me which . . .
2. . . .they may very well not. The big box Christmas greeters will say what their managers tell them to. This decision will be motivated by the good of the business; what will cause the greatest inflow of cash. Because I consider my day to be sacred, I’m not vehement that it be named by someone who has little concern for either the actual event or the miraculous story behind it. It is of little consequence, therefore, if a retail establishments speak the name of my holiday when their religion (that is, their organizing principle and motivation) is profit. Now, if I could make the store greeter care about The Story, I would greatly prefer to do that. Because . . .
3. . . . I am deeply interested in helping others to know the miraculous love offered in Jesus Christ. I have no interest, however, in pressuring someone – particularly a non-believer – to pay lip service to my holiday. If they are not a believer, they are not likely to become one by speaking the name of Christmas. Forcing the issue may even be counterproductive to my purpose of telling convincingly God’s story of grace.
4. Finally, while this is only a small concern, I am saddened by the cold shoulder we have given the word “holiday.” Because this is the particular word that has been used in the generic wish for our happiness, it has also received the bulk of our frustration. “Holiday” has almost become the enemy, the anti-Christmas if you will. But that is not a fair reflection of the word. Holiday means “holy day.” It speaks to the most sacred times in our lives and our most meaningful celebrations. “Holiday” is a beautiful word with a profound meaning and one that I don’t want to give up.
For those of us who claim Jesus as savior, the Christmas story is our story. It is our holy day. We who believe are the ones who are called to tell it. If we are to keep the Christ in Christmas, then it needs to be done by those who love Jesus and have been transformed by the story we tell. This is important because our telling of the story must not be just in our words, but in our hearts and actions. Do our lives reflect the Christmas story? When we use the title of this holy day, will people actually see in us all that it is about? I hope so. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the holiday!
I hope the recipe below will help you to enjoy this holy season!
1 tsp. each: nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, allspice
4 cups cold water 10-12 cups boiling water
1 cup orange juice 1 cup lemon juice
1 cup pineapple juice
Put sugar and 4 cups cold water in boiler, let simmer 5 minutes. Tie tea, spices in bag. Place in boiler of water and sugar, let simmer 10 minutes. Now add 10-12 cups boiling water, 1 cup orange juice, 1 cup lemon juice, 1 cup pineapple juice. Let this steep 5 minutes. Can be reheated as often as needed.