This is actually a conversation I overheard at the store this week:
Cashier: Merry Christmas!
Customer: Oh yeah, um, happy holidays or Merry Christmas or whatever..
Cashier: Oh I just say what I celebrate...
My jaw dropped. I just watched as the customer nearly tripped over herself, trying to position her body to head right out the door as soon as the cashier clumsily handed the receipt over. Though I was a few registers over, I could feel the awkward. It was almost painful. It brought me right back to my retail days and the unspoken frustrations of the holiday season.
I remember every season having to explain to customers why I responded to their "Merry Christmas" with a "Happy Holidays". No it wasn’t because “the man” told us we weren’t allowed to say Merry Christmas, it’s because I don’t believe in singling people out. While I did grow up celebrating Christmas with my step Dad’s family, I, myself, do not belong to this countries majority religion.
This provided me with the inherent understanding that not only was I different (and that was okay!), but that there were many people who were different than me. One of the most beautiful parts of living in the United States is that we have so many freedoms including freedom of speech and religion. No one forces us what to say, think or believe.
But this holiday season I’d like to encourage you to switch it up, look around and honor the melting pot that has made our world so beautiful and diverse. Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, Zoroastrians and Pagans also celebrate holy days throughout the month of December in addition to the number of holidays celebrated by Christian faiths during this time.
So, while I’m sure the intent of the warm wishes of “Merry Christmas” are inclusive of the entire holiday season, why not actually be inclusive when spreading holiday cheer?
Of course how you interact will vary with people that know and people whom you haven't met yet, so if you’re wondering how to address the situation, ask yourself a couple questions when determining your choice of season’s greetings...
If this is someone you know:
Ask yourself "Do I know they celebrate Christmas?"
If this is a stranger:
Ask yourself “Am I psychic? Do I know they celebrate Christmas?”
Let’s work on being inclusive this holiday season! It’s not about taking away the right to say Merry Christmas — it’s about including everyone! So with that, I wish you all a very happy holiday season, whatever you choose to celebrate!
Love + Light,
xo Arielle Sterling
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Arielle is a best-selling author, holistic life coach and intuitive energy healer.