'Merry Christmas' or 'Happy Holidays': What should you say?

Someone walks into your business, or maybe you are at a customer’s house, and someone gives you a hearty, ‘Happy holidays.’ Your mind begins to race. What should you say? Your heart says, ‘Merry Christmas,’ your mind says, ‘Happy holidays.’ the sweat begins to form on your brow as you have mere seconds to decide what to say. Your mind is racing with possible outcomes. What if I offend them? What If I lose their business? What if I don’t honor my convictions? It’s time, you have to respond. You have to say something to your customer. You rise up the occasion, go with your heart and say, “thank you and a Merry Christmas to you.” To your surprise, they shake your hand, you both smile and you see them back in your store in a few days. There are no hard feelings at all. Why? Most people really don’t care how you respond. Of course, there are exceptions, but most people aren’t overly concerned about who says this or doesn’t say that.

Of course, that situation is a little exaggerated, but you get the point.

Here are a few tips are how to handle yourself in any potentially sticky situations this Christmas season:

Do what you think is right

The fact of the matter is, we are all going to make some decisions that will not be the most popular with everyone. That’s ok, own it.

The worst thing we can do for ourselves or for our customers is to present someone who we are not. Most people look at Christmas as family time, filled with presents and a Christmas trees and lights. That’s great, I love Christmas for those unique experiences it brings every year.

Christmas is even greater than that to Christians. It is the day that we celebrate the most important birth to have graced our planet. The birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

If anyone says they believe Christmas should be referred to as ‘Happy Holidays’, they are taking a stand for something they are convinced to be true. Why then, should we feel as though we should alter our convictions because someone else’s doesn’t line up with ours? Short answer: We shouldn’t.

This is a debate that probably will never die (at least I hope not, that’d mean there are no more Christians). Don’t give into the thought that just because someone doesn’t agree makes you wrong. People have always gotten offended, people are still offended and people will always be offended. Stand by your heart.

Not everyone will agree with you

As Christian’s, we can develop a bad habit of dreaming about how good it was in yesteryear. If only it were the way it was back in the ’50s, we wouldn’t have to deal with all of this nonsense. Or, we like to think the country had better morals back in the day. We might like the blame the media (I’m definitely not sticking up for them). Either way, we dream about how things used to be.

A quick study of the United States or all of world history for the matter would tell you, we have always struggled with moral issues.

In the 1940s and ’50s, there was the racial divide. The ’60s brought war to the moral forefront. The ’70s brought on the war on drugs and abortion. The ’80s brought bad hair, so on and so forth.

The point is, people never have and never will agree on everything. This country and the world have faced more significant issues. If someone doesn’t respond with a ‘Merry Christmas,’ don’t sweat it.

Maybe you’re reading this, and you’re on the other side of the spectrum, and you think ‘Merry Christmas’ is insensitive understand that the vast majority of people are sensing out of love and hope that you have an exceptional holiday. ‘Merry Christmas’ is essential to us, and we want to share it with you.

Respond with grace

Colossians 4:5-6, “Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, wisely using the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you should answer everyone.“

It’s inevitable, you will face times where your beliefs are challenged by people who see things differently. Rather than getting mad and frustrated, recognize this as an opportunity to minister grace and build a relationship.

The way we respond to non-believers is going to significantly influence the way they view Christians and ultimately Jesus in the future. Let me tell you a quick story:

While in Bible college my professor was the pastor of the local First Baptist Church. The parking lot of this church was the starting point of this city's annual LGBT pride parade. The church and the pastor were in an interesting situation not knowing how to respond to the event. For the first few years, they acted like it didn’t happen and just closed off the parking lot. After a few years of conviction, the pastor realized the opportunity God had given them minister to such a large group of people. They decided the next year the parade happened they were going to open the parking lot and the church to the parade participants. They passed out bottles of water and let everybody they could know that the church was open if anybody needed to use the restroom. The church even went as far as placing a person inside to let people know where the bathroom was (it was a large building). Then something awesome happened. They got to witness to multiple people and share God’s love.

Unfortunately, this story does not have a happy ending. Shortly after the church members started connecting with the parade participants, multiple cars pulled up and people with black shirts, picket signs and megaphones got out and began to yell. They were screaming at the parade participants things like, “God hates gays” and “you’re going to hell.” Immediately the parade attendees shut down and wouldn’t talk to anyone at the church. The church was guilty by association. Hope was lost. Don't be those people.

If someone doesn’t agree with ‘Merry Christmas,’ get to know them and bridge the gap. Meet them where they are. Show them the irresistible grace Jesus has given you.

Don’t expect everyone to share your beliefs

I want to put this out there real fast. Jesus NEVER begged anyone to follow Him. Never ever. Actually her puts in rather bluntly. Jesus says in Matthew 16:24 says, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Either you follow or you don’t.

No doubt, He gives all people the opportunity but never will you find Jesus in the Bible pleading for someone to follow Him. He also didn’t expect sinners to act like Christians. It's a great privilege and responsibility and privilege to share the good news. We must take every opportunity seriously. Maybe sure your talk is, and actions are littered with grace. Jesus's love is attractive, not our knowledge of right and wrong.

It’s easy to get offended or bothered by someone who doesn’t see eye to eye with you. After all, as Christians, we have rock-solid confidence that Christ is the way, the truth, and the life, exclusively. We want other’s to believe that too.

Maybe we should take a step back to the past here. I’m sure there are readers out there that got saved a little later in life. We could say they lived a little before being a Christian, they have been around the proverbial block.

If a Christian came up to you, before you were saved, and expected you to pray for every meal, show up to church, give to missions, cuss a little less, listen to different music or whatever else they could muster up. What would your reaction be? Maybe something along the lines of, “Look, man, I don’t believe all of that, so why would I do what your asking?”

We have to stop expecting people who aren’t Christians to act like they are. It really isn’t that surprising that a non-believer lives in a sin that I don’t agree with. Why? They don’t believe what I do.

If someone doesn’t like the term ‘Merry Christmas’ I’m pretty certain they’re not a Christian. I am not going to respond to them with surprise in my face and lambast them with the fact that ‘Jesus is the reason for the season.’ This response is only going to push that person farther away from Christ.

Instead, why don’t we invest time in getting to know other people? Establishing relationships and looking for fruitful opportunities to share Christ with someone. Not lecture them why they are wrong for not saying something that I believe in.

At Safari, we cherish and love the Christmas season. It is the most wonderful time of the year after all. It provides unique opportunities to talk about Christ openly and show people His grace and love.

As a business owner, you have the ability to positively impact a large group of people. Every person that graces your business is an opportunity to display the love of Christ. Don’t let that opportunity pass you by.

How have you found it most helpful to respond to people who don't agree with you?