Letters: Don't be a Scrooge over greeting

To those who say we should put Christ back in Christmas, here is a simple suggestion: Try acting like Him. Not just at Christmas, not just when it is easy, not just when you lack a rationalization for behaving badly, but all the time. That’s right, pilgrim. Act like Christ, not like what you define in your own image as “Christian.” Do not ask rhetorically, “What would Jesus do?” Show us. You can start with His second great commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31), a divine injunction that has no exceptions clause. Give it your best shot, and I will, too.

Meanwhile, instead of seeking proof of a “war on Christmas” and reacting angrily to every new piece of “evidence” from alarmists and blowhards in the media, why not look around and see the pervasive presence of Christmas in our society? Instead of letting a few cranks spoil the holiday for you, why not exult in the widespread Christmas spirit? Instead of looking for the absence of Christ in others, why not look for His presence? Chances are good that if you open both your eyes and your mind, you will be surprised at where you find it.

When I was growing up, people used the phrases “Merry Christmas,” “Happy Holidays” and “Season’s Greetings” interchangeably. As far as we were concerned, they all meant the same thing. Moreover, we would have found it extraordinarily rude and inappropriate to react to good wishes of any kind with hostility.

So, once again this year I shall respond with gratitude and goodwill to anyone who wishes me a Merry Christmas; Happy Hannukah; saturnine Saturnalia; salubrious Solstice; jolly Yule; sunny Sol Invictus; bullish birthday of Mithra; joyous Kwanzaa; reverent Ramadan; bodacious Boxing Day; felicitous Feast of St. Stephen, St. John the Apostle, the Holy Innocents, St. Thomas Becket, St. Sylvester, Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God, St. Basil the Great, St. Gregory Nazianzus, or Most Holy Name of Jesus; an epiphanous Epiphany; a festive Twelfth Night; a pleasant Plough Monday; happy birthday; happy holidays; seasons greetings; or good day.

To do otherwise is to be a dogmatic, nitpicking old Scrooge and to invite unnecessary conflict into the arena of good intentions. People who want to use a casual choice of words as evidence of a nonexistent attack on Christmas obviously do not have enough real problems to deal with and have forgotten that the spirit of Christmas is best expressed not in words but in actions — like, for example, politeness and tolerance.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, have the happiest of holidays and God bless us every one!

William Robison

historian

Baton Rouge