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Ah, the “Holidays/Christmas”…such a busy time of the year!  With all the baking, decorating, shopping and wrapping, it would seem almost impossible to get it all done AND fit in the annual holiday parties – yet, somehow we do!  It was at one of those holiday parties this past weekend that an acquaintance posed the question, “What do you say when someone wishes you ‘Happy Holidays’ instead of ‘Merry Christmas’?”  I thought to myself, “I really never thought about it.  What should I say?”  Before I could say anything, she answered her own question – “I let them know I am insulted with their political correctness.  After all, Jesus is the reason for this season.”

While I agree the birth of Jesus is the reason we celebrate Christmas, the “holiday season” in the United States is generally considered to run from late November through early January – with at least 10 major holidays to be found on the calendar during that time frame.  Beginning with the celebration of the Islamic New Year 2011 (Muharram) and continuing through the Christian Epiphany on January 6th, it appears most major religions – including Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, and African/Interfaith – celebrate something during the “holiday season”.  And then, of course, there are the secular holidays – like New Year’s and Festivus – that are celebrated during the “holiday season” as well.  (Yes, held on December 23rd, Festivus is a real secular day of celebration ~not just a Seinfeld storyline!  It was created in 1966 by Daniel O’Keefe.)

Maybe knowing there are many religions celebrating their faith during the “holiday season”, someone wishing you ‘Happy Holidays’ isn’t necessarily trying to be politically correct, but rather trying not to be presumptuous.  I guess I have to wonder…with all there is to be concerned with here in the United States – recession! gas prices! crime rates! – why is this particular distinction such a hotly-debated topic?  So, how do I answer the question, “What do I say when someone wishes me ‘Happy Holidays’ instead of ‘Merry Christmas’?”  I guess I say the same thing I would say if someone wishes me ‘Merry Christmas’, ‘Season’s Greetings’ or even ‘Happy Chanukah’, “Thanks! And the same to you!  Enjoy the season!”

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