Pattye Benson

Community Matters

religious tolerance

Merry Christmas versus Happy Holiday . . . Does it Really Matter?

Each of us may have different traditions with different memories and different stories of the celebration of our holidays, but our wishes are all the same. Whether one is Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu or any other faith is not the important lesson of the season. Believing in the spirit of the holiday season – whatever or whomever you choose or choose not to believe in – is a special time and a time to reach out to the less fortunate.

No matter whom you might worship, or not worship, or by what creed, faith, or practice you choose to acknowledge isn’t what is important. It is the empathy to understand there are many who are not as lucky to have a warm bed, a roof over their head, or food on their table. To understand and to give to those of us less fortunate is what makes us human and this time of the year special, not whether you say the words “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays”.

The disagreement over the use of Merry Christmas versus Happy Holidays leaves some people worried about offending someone of their choice of greetings. At times, this ‘politically correctness’ debate reaches a dull roar, often so loud that you can barely make out the “peace on earth, goodwill to men” feeling that we should be all be sharing.

The holiday season should remind us that it is not about words but rather about caring about others and respecting their traditions. It is the charity in our hearts to consider others, to volunteer our time, to donate and to try to make this world a better place, each in our own special way.

President Ronald Reagan delivered a Christmas address to the nation thirty years ago. Three decades later, his words are as meaningful today as they were in 1981.

“In spite of everything, we Americans are still uniquely blessed, not only with the rich bounty of our land but by a bounty of the spirit — a kind of year-round Christmas spirit that still makes our country a beacon of hope in a troubled world and that makes this Christmas and every Christmas even more special for all of us who number among our gifts the birthright of being an American.” ~ Ronald Reagan

In closing, it is not whether you say Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays or Season’s Greetings but rather it is about believing in the spirit of the season.

To all who read Community Matters, best wishes to you and your families this holiday season. And may we all learn to practice tolerance and appreciate the gift of respecting each other’s holidays and traditions.

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