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COLUMN: Happy Christmas to you

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By Shannon Brock

If our paths cross in the next nine days, I might wish you a “Merry Christmas,” but it’s just as likely that I’ll say “happy holidays.”

Personally, I celebrate Christmas and constantly try to remind myself the real reason for the season is the birth of Jesus Christ. But, I’m well aware of and perfectly OK with the fact that you may not.

As Americans we are blessed to have freedom of religion. To me this means, I have as much of a right to celebrate Christmas as you do to celebrate Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or nothing at all.

Some Christians — not all — claim that anyone who says “happy holidays” is effectively excluding them from their well wishes.

I beg to differ.

I celebrate Christmas and may say “merry Christmas” because as a human, I am prone to say what I am used to. However, I realize that by wishing someone a merry Christmas, I am excluding other religions and other holidays.

So, to me, saying “happy holidays” also makes sense. “Happy holidays” can mean a variety of things — merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah, happy Kwanzaa, happy New Year, happy Winter Solstice or even happy Thanksgiving if you say it early enough.

I don’t think it should matter what we say to greet others, but instead it should matter how we say it. As long as I am greeted with kindness and warmth, I won’t mind at all to hear “happy holidays.”

My former youth pastor once asked me why, in most cities or towns, a lot of the churches are located so close together. “Because they all think they’re right,” he said.

Before taking offense to his conclusion, think about it. Of course you think you’re right. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t celebrate or worship in the ways you do.

Others who practice different religions may feel just as strongly about theirs as you do about yours.

One of my very best friends is from Bosnia and of Muslim descent. Her best friend from high school is Jewish, yet the two of them exchange Christmas presents each year.

I think they have the right idea.

Since I’ve known her, this same friend has never failed to text me Christmas morning to say “happy Christmas.”

Not happy holidays. Not merry Christmas. But a combination of the two.

So, following her lead, I hope you all have a very happy Christmas and a wonderful holiday season all the way around.

Follow Shannon Mason Brock at Twitter.com/ANewsSBrock.