So long as the sentiment is sincere—or even merely casually polite—what possible difference can the phrasing make in how a speaker projects his or her good wishes to another? This made-up controversy over who says what how is just that: made up. Frankly, the controversy, which comes largely from the so-called Christian right, is slightly disgusting. So-called because the attitude really is not very “Christian” at all, stemming as it does from petty intolerance.
I was vastly amused by one of these types who posted on Facebook—in a militantly belligerent tone—something to the effect that he or she “would continue to show proper religious devotion by taking care always to use the phrase ‘Merry Christmas.’” OK. Can’t fault that. ‘Tis the speaker’s prerogative. But the message was accompanied by an image of an elaborately decorated fir tree—a seasonal tradition that has its roots in a decidedly pagan celebration of the winter equinox!
That made-up controversy has a rather insidious side to it: It diverts attention away from serious issues such the homeless coping with cold; millions of American children (not to mention countless others) who go to bed every night hungry; the thousands of folks who are having a less-than-merry holiday season because they have lost a loved one in a totally senseless shooting; and, of course, the ever-present threat of terrorism.
This made-up controversy is also disgusting because it seems to come from people who feel they have to make an ostentatious show of their religious fervor. You know the types: those who make a great production of praying in strictly secular settings. I doubt Jesus cares very much about who wins a high school football game! Nor do I think He pays that showy public display any more attention than He does a quiet, private prayer!
Regardless of how you might wish it phrased, may I wish you all the joys and hopes of the season? (My personal favorite is “Happy Holidays” because I love the alliteration and because it is so inclusive of all our winter holidays.)