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Faith Matters: Should we say Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas?

It’s that time of the year when Christmas cards are being sent. Stores have made the switch in merchandise and their aisles are full of busy shoppers. People are looking forward to family coming home.

It’s that time of the year when Christmas cards are being sent. Stores have made the switch in merchandise and their aisles are full of busy shoppers. People are looking forward to family coming home. While the weather is cold outside, people are warming up with hot chocolate and Christmas parties.

We enjoy these weeks before Christmas. But if you are like me, I can’t help but sense that something is missing. If you read ads and listen to Christmas commercials, you will notice it. It’s the great emphasis on substituting the phrase Happy Holidays in place of Merry Christmas.

In fact one retail store chain told its employees not to say Merry Christmas but to say Happy Holidays instead. On its website they removed the word Christmas and used the word holidays instead.

Now, maybe it’s just me, but when I hear people say, Happy Holidays, something seems to ring empty. What are these holidays that we are suppose to be celebrating?

Happy Holidays is used often, but there seems to be no depth, no purpose, no meaning in it. It makes this wonderful time of the year have an empty tone.

Now, someone may say Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays is interchangeable. The problem is that when there is an emphasis on saying Happy Holidays, the phrase Merry Christmas gets eclipsed, pushed aside, never mentioned. The real meaning of Christmas is forgotten. Watch almost any ad on TV where Happy Holidays is used and the true meaning of Christmas is no where to be found.

Why is it so important to mention the word Christmas? It’s because the birth of Jesus Christ is the reason for the season. It’s to celebrate His coming to this earth and what He came to do for you and for me. If you take that out of Christmas, you are left with nothing that gives meaning and lasting purpose to life.

The holiday can free you from a few hours of work, it can fill your life with a sense of joy and happiness for a time, but it cannot free you from your sins. It cannot give you a peace that will last beyond Christmas day. Having family around you can give you a sense of peace, but it cannot give you the peace that comes from knowing that you have been forgiven of everything you’ve ever done wrong.

Happy Holidays can’t last throughout the year or throughout your life. Peace that lasts all through your life comes from receiving the gift of life Jesus Christ was born into this world to give you. Jesus was born just like you and I, He entered this world the same way as we do so that we would not be afraid of Him, but also so that He could identify with everything you and I face in life and then give us the courage and the strength to come through to the other side victoriously.

We call it Christmas because only as we focus on the birth of Jesus can this special time of the year have a deeper, more meaningful expression in our lives.

Now, that doesn’t mean that some of the other things we fill our Christmas celebration with are wrong. But we must realize that they are just additions to what Christmas is really all about.

We call it Christmas because it is only Christ that brings real hope.

A week off school and presents under the tree can’t compare with the hope of eternal life in heaven that Christ was born into this world to offer us.

Without this kind of hope, this time of the year might as well be just called Xmas or Happy Holidays.

It doesn’t have to be that way. It’s not too late for you to investigate what Christmas is really all about. Visit almost any church on a Sunday in the weeks leading up to Christmas and you will hear what Christmas is all about and what gives it such depth, meaning and purpose for all of us.

Don’t let the media and other sources rob you of the richness of this time of the year. Don’t let them tempt you to just say Happy Holidays.

In a national survey of 1,000 respondents, 69 per cent answered that they preferred to see holiday retail signs with the greeting Merry Christmas over Happy Holidays.

If that’s the case, and if you want a rich and lasting Christmas experience, join the movement of people fighting to keep Christ in Christmas. Respond to retail store clerks with “Merry Christmas,” and compliment them when they respond with the same phrase.

This Christmas let’s respect the day for what it is really all about. The birth of Jesus Christ who came to bring every person real and lasting hope.

This Faith Matters column was provided by Tri-Community Baptist Church in Beiseker.

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