Last year about this time I was sitting in the dentist’s chair getting my teeth cleaned. Or perhaps it should more appropriately be called the dental hygienist’s chair. I only see my dentist for two minutes every six months when he pops in after my cleaning to ask if I’m having any problems with my teeth. He’s a jovial kind of guy, a quick hello, a short joke, a few jibs and jabs about current events, and then he’s off to the next cubicle. I’m not even sure he’s a dentist. I think he may just network really well and run a teeth-cleaning business. He’s like a dental pimp with a stable of cute girls with sharp, metal instruments.
Anyhoo, at this particular visit a year ago, something interesting happened. As Dr. Rodney Dangerfield was finishing his obligatory glance at my pearlies, he stood up to leave the room and gave a cheerful, “Merry Christmas!” It was so cheerful, in fact, that I think there actually was at least one “Ho” thrown in for good measure.
I smiled back and said with an equal amount of holiday cheer, “Thank you! Happy Hanukkah!”
The continuous advertisement of his own perfect masticators ended abruptly. He literally frowned, a playful frown, but a frown nonetheless. “Uh, . . . well, I’m not Jewish.”
I hesitated not even a second. “That’s okay. I’m not Christian, but I took no offense.”
He mumbled something about a root canal and scooted out of the room.
And here we are again, a year later, and here comes the great Merry Christmas debate one more time. I’ve seen some ugly scenes over the last few years regarding this issue. A woman at the post office two years ago responded to a “Happy Holidays!” with a venomous “WE say Merry Christmas!” It was the angriest Merry Christmas I’ve ever heard, and it almost ruined the season for me. I don’t begrudge anybody their Merry Christmas; I just like to be inclusive.
I have my personal feelings about the religiousness of the holiday season, and I’m savvy enough to recognize that so does everyone else. Debating the “reason for the season” is rather pointless. For you, it might be the birth of a baby 2,000 years ago (whom most theologians agree was probably born sometime in August). For another it might be a Festival of Lights. For some, it might be the winter solstice and the return of the sun.
Whatever your personal reason, I say offer the greeting of your choice, as long as you do so with joy in your voice, love in your heart, . . . and no point to prove.