Merry Christmas

I don’t even remember what store I was in the other day when the clerk told me “Merry Christmas,” but it made me smile.

It also made me realize how rarely I hear it in casual conversation anymore. People might say “Happy holidays” or some variant. I listen to WSGW right now and hear the performer promos, and one – I think John Mayer, whose work I dislike anyway – says, “have a happy non-denominational holiday.” And I wonder, what is the point of that? In lumping together all the holidays, it makes them all meaningless.

I like the approach of a doctor I saw years ago, only once. When she first asked, “Do you celebrate Christmas?” I thought she was asking about my preparations, but I quickly realized she was checking to see what holiday I might mark. It was gentle, and when I said yes we talked about trees or something similar. If I’d said no, I’m sure she would have had some gracious followup.

I understand people not whipping “Merry Christmas” about as much because we’re better about realizing not everyone celebrates it. Still, I miss hearing it, and one of the treats of marking the season at church is its unabashed celebration.

My children have been adamant about making sure we get certain things done, some of which we let slide some years. Cutout cookies are on the list. I personally want lights outside.

Those are the secular trappings. One of the most important family traditions, though, is lighting the Advent wreath each week and taking a few moments to say what each of us is thankful for. Actually, it’s such a nice thing we should figure out how to carry it through the rest of the year.

This post originally appeared on, the online home of the Midland (MI) Daily News. Republished with permission.

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