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Think twice about saying Merry Christmas?

It's finally December, which means we all have two things on our minds: finals, and the holidays. As much as I love finals (just kidding), I'd much rather talk about Christmas.

I love Christmas, as I'm sure many people in this community do. The tree on campus is beautiful, the wreath hanging from the University Center is probably bigger than my dorm, and I love it. Nothing makes me happier than hearing Bruce Springsteen's live version of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" on the radio. However, I always encounter one small issue around the holidays. My word choice in those first two sentences is actually part of the problem that we face every year: to say Merry Christmas, or Happy Holidays?

Is it right to assume that someone will get insulted if I specifically choose Christmas, or is it wrong to assume that they wouldn't get insulted? I've been raised in a Catholic family, so I only celebrate Christmas. I have plenty of friends who are Jewish, not from mixed homes, and only celebrate Hanukkah. While I haven't met anyone who I know celebrates Kwanzaa, but I'm sure someone around here must. If I know someone's faith, I will wish them the happiest [insert respective holiday here].

Back to my family situation – my mother always wishes everyone a Merry Christmas, regardless of what she knows about them, strangers and atheists alike. Her point of view is that it shouldn't be a matter of insulting someone, she celebrates Christmas, that is what she is excited for, and so that is how she will phrase the statement. I usually just say whatever comes to mind if I'm talking to a stranger, sometimes it's happy holidays, sometimes I'll just assume they celebrate Christmas.

What really makes me upset are the people who take erroneous amounts of time out of their holiday season to actually petition and get genuinely insulted if they see a sign that only says "Merry Christmas," or if stores are only decorated in red and green with candy canes. Some towns around here have wreaths hanging from their lampposts; my town personally opts for generic snowflakes. On the flip side, many people have also wasted their time in insisting that "happy holidays" is too generic, and that we are too politically correct sometimes.

First of all, why does it matter? Every year in my town, my best friend's father dresses up as Santa for our winter fair. It's great. He poses for pictures and rides around in one of our two fire engines around the tiny two square miles of Verona. The huge tree in the town square is lit at the end of the fair. Since I can remember, the pitch was always to "join Santa in lighting the Christmas tree" in the town square. Last year I remember my sister telling me that the ceremony is now called the "holiday tree" lighting. Excuse me if I'm being rude, but what other holidays have trees with lights that get visited by Santa? I have plenty of friends that celebrate Hanukkah, and I do not see trees in their houses, nor have they really complained about their traditions – I mean, come on, eight nights of presents? Let's be honest, that doesn't sound too bad to the rest of us.

Speaking of the rest of us, maybe I should just walk around wishing everyone a happy Festivus and call it even. (To whomever that reference was lost upon, I weep for you. Throw some Seinfeld DVD's on your wish list). Anyway, needless to say, I was a little perturbed by my town's conformity to an argument that really wastes time around what's supposed to be the "the most wonderful time of the year, the hap-happiest season of all." All I'm trying to say is that we should spend less time worrying and more time celebrating. So go be merry in whatever it is you celebrate. Worry about who you love, and do what makes you happy, because after that it's New Year's Resolution time.

Charlotte is a sophomore journalism major from Verona, NJ. She can be reached at


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