Through Thom Tinted Lenses

December 6, 2009


Merry Christmas, er, Happy Hanukah, um, joyful Kwanza? How about, have a Jolly winter solstice; enjoy a marvelous pre New Year’s celebration. Or maybe, Brrr, its cold outside, wanna heat up some cocoa, sit by the fireplace, and burn down the house by putting near-antique decorative lights of dubious quality on a dead and dried-out tree?

Yep. It’s that most increasingly confusing time of year. Used to be everyone tossed about Christmas greetings willy-nilly like they were hurling Tootsie Rolls in a Thanksgiving Day parade. But, admittedly, we live in an ever more diverse community. People of various traditions roam our streets celebrating, feasting, and greeting in numerous and previously little-known fashions.

So, whatever you do, please, PLEASE don’t say Merry Christmas! Someone might be offended. In fact, best to stay clear of any and all religious references despite the history and tradition of our fair land. Remember, it’s entirely ludicrous to think that someone greeted with the wrong salutation might take no offense simply because none was intended. That’s just not how it works. This is America, people.

Whether you’re a person of deep conviction or more of an anything-goes-just-let-me-get-on-with-my-life type, we all must realize that the guy standing next to you at Redbox – taking three days to select just one movie! – quite possibly does not share your holiday sensibilities.

So, what can we say? In what manner can we most delicately share our seasonal cheer? Obviously, it’s no longer proper etiquette to utilize age-old salutations. It seems “Happy Holidays” is the safest, most non-offensive route.

But “Happy Holidays” has no pizzazz, no flare, no zeal. Perhaps we should institute a new nonspecific holiday that is safe, non-threatening, non-committal, and requires no beliefs, dedication or fervor from any adherents. Maybe, “Happy Winter’s Day.” Or, “Merry Paid-Day-Off-of-Work Day.” We could all get behind that one. “Great-Excuse-to-Break-My-Diet Day” comes to mind. We could just cut to the chase and call it, “Just-Hurry-Up-and-Give-Me-My-Gifts Day.”

Nope. Don’t think we’re quite there yet. What about people who don’t have kids? What about the unemployed? To them, even these outwardly-benign greetings might seem as audacious as tossing out a “Merry Christmas” to a complete stranger.

No. We need something far more nebulous, something more brown paper bag. Maybe, “Have a Fantastic Pseudo-Generic holiday.” No. Some people get freaked out by holidays altogether. “Have an increasingly adequate existence?” Close. But not quite there yet.

Ah, got it! The perfect non-offencive-nearly-guaranteed-not-to-get-you-dragged-into-an-alley-and-beaten greeting for the holiday season.

“Have a nice day.”

Copyright 2009 Thom Reese All Rights Reserved.

“Through Thom Tinted Lenses” is posted weekly. If you enjoy these blogs, please check back frequently and share the link with your friends.


  1. Thanks for sharing! So true –

    Comment by Robin Cain — December 6, 2009 @ 6:44 am | Reply

  2. I run into this every day in the holiday season but you usually it’s a little more cognitive, that is I know the religious beliefs and/or background of the individual to whom I speak as I desperately seek a neutral ground of holiday joy. “Hey what is this song?” asked by a person whom I know is a religion that views most holiday celebrations as pagan in their origins. I said oh this is the new Christma…Holid….Winter Album from Enya. Phew, I emerged from that one unscathed. But on most days, I find saying Merry Christmas is like a release valve. I can see it in their eyes, “He said it! Now I can say it!” and so they do with more fervor then I delivered and I secretly lament having to be the first one to break the Merry Christmas barrier. Your blog entry had good timing and was humorously delivered. Have a nice day has become the generic go-to for all customer service banter so why not cover the holidays as well, right? I’m inclined to possibly urbanize my holiday greetings and greet folks with a Mizzle Chrizzle My Pizzle. Have a nice day!

    Comment by C.S.P. Barnes — December 6, 2009 @ 6:48 am | Reply

  3. In Canada it can be even more confusing, where multi-culturalism is worshipped as much as any religion. I appreciate others’ cultures and celebrations, but there is no need to take offense if someone offers happy tidings – even if you celebrate something completely different. I personally celebrate Christmas, but I wouldn’t get out my beating stick if someone wished me a Happy Hanukah, a Peaceful Winter Solstice or a Joyful Kwanza. I would thank them and enjoy the warm fuzzy feeling it would give me inside, based on the fact that they wanted me to share in their particular type of happiness. Considering the way diversity is promoted on a regular basis, it would be really nice if people could just stop pushing the “us vs them” mentality, and embrace whatever good things come their way. I’ve made a point of reinforcing this notion with my gaggle of assorted friends, whenever they start to prtest the fact that I’ve just wished them Merry Christmas…

    Comment by Chantal — December 6, 2009 @ 8:19 am | Reply

  4. Reading this one reminded me of Bill Murray’s famous line in Groundhog Day…

    “This is pitiful…a thousand people, freezing their butts off waiting to worship a rat! What a hype! Groundhog Day used to mean something in this town; they used to pull the hog out, and they used to eat it. You’re hypocrites! All of ya! You got a problem with what I’m saying Larry? Untie your tongue and you come out here and talk huh? Am I upsetting you princess? You know you want a prediction about the weather you’re askin the wrong Phil. I’ll give you a winter prediction; it’s gonna be cold…it’s gonna be gray…and it’s gonna last you for the rest of your life.”

    I seriously felt like this blog was written by Bill Murray! :-D. But you’re right sir, ‘Have a nice day’ is the best route to take in my opinion.

    Comment by Phil — December 6, 2009 @ 8:45 am | Reply

  5. Hi Thom,

    Pleased to be invited over. 🙂

    Nice blog post.

    A few years ago I realized I didn’t like Christmas. I didn’t like the ‘season’ the ‘traditions’ the religious arguments, the family visits, the ubiquitous presents, the forced cheer and the ghastly music. The only thing I like is the bling. I like decorating sometimes and on occasion that pleasure would counter the rest of it. But then, I realized that my 12 hours decorating my tree meant another day bringing it down (which I didn’t like) and I managed to accept that a 1/1 return on my pleasure investment was – well, not so good.

    I usually greet people with well wishes for their vacation. In this way my sentiment is genuine. I don’t care what their vacation time is about for them – just be selfish and don’t invite me to participate. Be greedy, go off and spend money and time on yourself cause, quite frankly, vacation should be greedy me time not stressful forced smile time while your rent is due.

    I gave up birthdays too. Gee, lets calculate how much closer to death we are – all I need to accomplish that trick is look inside my mouth. Everything is rotten in there – expensive rotten.

    If you love someone – give them a gift on Tuesday because that was the exact moment you saw the gift and thought of them. They will like it just as much – maybe more. Send flowers in the spring time cause your mom loves spring flowers. Screw marketing.

    It’s December, with careful planning I can manage to never enter a mall or big store jammed with unhappy people dragging greed-ridden children through mounds of fake crap.

    Have a happy vacation!

    Know I will be jealous if you make it to Maui this year…


    Comment by Mallory — December 6, 2009 @ 10:46 am | Reply

  6. LOL yeah I feel the same exact way!! Especially the fact that all of America does get Christmas as a paid holiday however were not technically supposed to say Merry Christmas makes no sense!!

    Comment by Kelli — December 6, 2009 @ 10:54 am | Reply

  7. So true. So sad. How about happy whateveryoucelebrateinyourstupidlittleworld day? Would that work? Or, better yes, Merry Christmas. As it was intended to be. Without the reason there is no season and no holiday. I say get over it. But love the piece Thom. You hit the moving proverbial nail right on it. Or somewhere close.

    Comment by Wanda M. Argersinger — December 7, 2009 @ 4:02 am | Reply

  8. Well done sir. I enjoyed the “near-antique decorative lights of dubious quality” bit. The Christmas season has become, like everything else, a bit too PC.

    Comment by Dom Macchiaroli — December 7, 2009 @ 5:08 am | Reply

  9. Love the sarcasm, it feeds my soul! I think the only group missing-that might still be offended- is the athiests. They need a holiday so they can be included, like “Celebrate being alive today because tomorrow we’re just worm food”, no that’s no good. Maybe you can think of one.
    Merry Christmas!

    Comment by Kathy Kennedy — December 7, 2009 @ 5:28 am | Reply

  10. As usual, quite astute observation Thom!

    It’s weird with my clan too (a totally un-PC word I know)… At home, we celebrate Hannukah, but I was raised celebrating Christmas, so I go have Christmas with my mom and dad and siblings on the 25th (my husband stays behind because 1. he doesn’t like my dad, and 2. he doesn’t like Christmas with my dad)… but I digress.

    I am pretty brave. I wish folks ‘Merry Christmas’ if I get a Christian vibe from them(a santa hat or glittery nativity sweater gives those guys away). Otherwise, I do not wish anything. I wait to see what they say first.

    It’s too bad. I wish people wouldn’t be so offended. But as one of those zealous Believers in the Most High, I recall what my Savior said about it…”in the Last Days many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another.” (Matt 24:10) That about sums it up!

    All we need is LOVE LOVE LOVE
    ellen c maze, author Rabbit: Chasing Beth Rider

    Comment by ellen c maze — December 7, 2009 @ 6:33 am | Reply

  11. Well said. Those of us who have Christmas birthdays salute you. It does not offend me to say I’m getting old. Maybe to appease those critics of this time of year I should say I’m chronologically gifted (challenged?). Excellent blog Thom!

    Comment by Ken Chapman — December 7, 2009 @ 9:48 am | Reply

  12. Happy Holidays, er, Have a Nice Day Thom.
    Great hearing from you.

    Comment by Mike Mintz — December 7, 2009 @ 12:05 pm | Reply

  13. Personally I think the whole Christmas controversy is silly. I say Merry Christmas because I celebrate Christmas and I’m not ashamed of it. I often add Happy Holidays (especially if I’m writing or blogging on the internet) to include the various other celebrations, but I never exclude my own holiday.

    Comment by A. F. Stewart — December 8, 2009 @ 8:18 am | Reply

  14. Well her we go again, tiz the weak minded Americans who are so worried about what everyone else in the world thinks. Should we all sit back and look at our history and the beginnings of Christmas and say to our ever so over sensitive selves- “GET OVER IT!”

    If I lived in Iran and griped that I had to listen to the ringing bells of the Mosque just because I didn’t feel the same way… bah on you I say, bah humbug and in the spirit of Christ-Mas… oh, yeah, that is right. Christ-Mas… as in Jesus Christ. I am waiting for the speech police to break down my door for saying such an offensive word and for even thinking that I have the right to wish someone good cheer and offend them by doing so.

    If you want to wish me a happy Halloween even though I do not celebrate the holiday I would fight just as hard for your right to do so as I do on this subject. Or we could just change our history as some want to do and have done in the past to banish all Christian roots in this nation.

    So with a glad heart and a clear mind I say to all Merry Christmas and may God bless America! (in spite of our stupidity)

    Comment by Aaron — December 8, 2009 @ 10:03 am | Reply

  15. I miss the good old days when “Merry Christmas” had no religious baggage and just meant, “I wish you well.” Sigh.

    Nice post, Thom. 🙂

    Comment by Angel Leigh McCoy — December 8, 2009 @ 1:47 pm | Reply

  16. Well, the one good thing about the word Holiday is it means “Holy Day”, so I think of that when people won’t say “Merry Christmas”.

    Comment by Christine Husom — December 10, 2009 @ 12:58 pm | Reply

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