If you have ever worked retail during the holiday season, you know the sheer terror that quakes in your soul when you realize Halloween is over and, suddenly, literally overnight, you must master holiday return policies, mentally prepare for the onslaught of unsatisfied and panicked gift givers, and practice your holiday greeting.
Perhaps the most terrifying of these three is that holiday greeting.
Read any blog post (or even reputable news source) these days and you’re bound to come across some strong opinions about the War on Christmas.
Some think it doesn’t exist. Some wish it didn’t exist. And some think they’re fighting on the front lines.
Let me assure you, these hot-air filled tweeters and bloggers don’t know what they’re talking about. The War skirmishes are not fought by internet trolls and President-elects.
Rather, the battlefield is manned by every retail cashier and greeter who suffers from the grumpy customer who (ironically) lectures them on their insufficient Christmas spirit and holiday cheer.
Anyone who knows me knows I am a big fan of the Christmas spirit. Christmas music for 2 months straight is never enough…I like to start in October. And Santa Claus is the hero in all my favorite movies.
All this to say, hearing “Merry Christmas” doesn’t offend me and it doesn’t bother me to say it to anyone else.
However, when I am at work, I rarely wish a customer Merry Christmas unless they’ve wished it to me first.
This isn’t because I hate baby Jesus.
Rather, what I find flows most generously and sincerely from my mouth as I converse with a shopper is “Have a wonderful holiday season.” Often, a customer will respond, “You too,” or even “Merry Christmas.”
No one seems to be bothered by the exchange. It’s merely a Christmas version of my habitual “Have a great afternoon,” on any other boring day of the year.
But when a special customer decides to take my generic and sincere holiday greeting as an invitation to lecture me and the brand I am working for about our coordinated attack on Christianity and Jesus…
Sweet mercy, how am I supposed to respond to that?
“Look dude, I am just trying to go about my day, spreading joy to the world and peace on earth to everyone I meet, and I don’t need some grumpy old church lady telling me how to live my life. If you wanted to wish me a Merry Christmas, this sure isn’t the way to get your point across.
“While we’re on the subject, I think the plain red Starbucks cups were minimalist and classy, and I hate the stupid chalk art on the cups this year, and a snowman and red-nosed reindeer aren’t the true meaning of Christmas either, so what the heck?
“Also, I think it’s nice to wish someone who celebrates Hanukkah a “Happy Holiday.” Those people are out at the mall buying presents, too! And can we talk about the fact that they give presents for like, a week, so what is it with us Christians only getting one day?! What a rip off! Let’s all be Jewish next year.
“And oh by the way, I hope you DO have a Merry Christmas, but I was just trying to spread the merriment to your ENTIRE HOLIDAY SEASON, which includes everything from All Hallows Eve through Epiphany (and every churchy Christian holiday in between), so YOU’RE WELCOME and GOD BLESS AMERICA.
“…and can I get you any gift receipts today?”