Merry Christmas or Happy New Holidays?

                    The debate over what is the appropriate greeting for the season has been going on for years. December 25th became an official federal holiday in 1870 when it was signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant. Why, then, has Christmas become the focus of so much controversy? A Rasmussen poll taken earlier this month shows that 92% of American adults celebrate Christmas in their family. Of the small percentage who don't celebrate Christmas, 84% of them would not be offended if a casual acquaintance wished them a Merry Christmas. These numbers rose among women (92%), respondents in the 18 to 29 age group (100%) and was slightly higher with those 65+ (86%). So there seems to be no problem here. The Pew Research survey of American religious affiliations (conducted in 2002) indicates that 82% of the adults surveyed identify themselves as Christians. Jewish 1%, Muslim 0.5%, Atheist 1%, Agnostic 2% and no preference 10%. This confirms that the United States is overwhelmingly a nation of Christians. Our history suggests that all religions are free to worship according to their beliefs without fear of persecution. And those with no religious affiliations or who have no faith are entitled to follow their hearts and minds as they wish. Why then must a few dissidents or politically correct extremists be allowed to disrupt this sacred day celebrated by more than 9 out of 10 Americans? When New Seniors were growing up, virtually everyone wished one another a Merry Christmas, even those of other religions. Those who had friends and acquaintances of the Jewish faith, for instance, might wish them a Happy Chanukah and they in turn would say Merry Christmas. Overall, no one was put off by a pleasant wish for a Merry Christmas. Is that why Christmases of the '40s, '50s and'60s seem more joyous than today? There was a time when Protestant religious leaders mounted an effort to put Christ back in Christmas. Their rationale was that the season had become too commercial and this was overshadowing the spirit and true meaning of Christmas. Now, it takes a continual effort to keep the word Christmas in the celebration. When Christmas Day was declared an official holiday so were New Year's Day, July 4th and Thanksgiving. Does anyone get upset with Happy New Year, Happy 4th of July or Happy Thanksgiving, even though the latter suggests there is a Deity to which we are thankful? Maybe the problem is the word Merry. How would it be if we switched from Merry Christmas to Happy Christmas? That idea is about as ridiculous as the whole rhubarb over the celebration of Christmas. If we simply remember what Christmas is all about and treat others in the spirit of the Advent season, there is little reason for the scoffers to be annoyed. So don't challenge them. Instead, simply wish them a Merry Christmas. And mean it.