Happy Holidays. That’s right. I said it.

Happy Holidays!This is a story with two simple points:
Five years ago, on Christmas Eve, I found myself working in a retail store — a bookstore, in fact. I had not worked in retail since high school and had never worked in a store on Christmas Eve. Books and people who were in a gift-finding frenzy surrounded me — so it was kind of fun. The customers were trying to get their last-minute gifts as quickly as possible — and get to the place they really wanted to be.
The day was part madness and part joy. I love books and helping people find the perfect book for their friend or loved one was a rush for me. I decided early in the day to make a game out of how many customers I could help find just such the perfect book for the person still waiting to be checked off the list. After all, the clock was ticking. To make it even more fun, I solicited a few other fun-spirited associates to join my game. We had an informal competition, going so far as to keep score as to how many gifts we helped customers find. Sometimes, to get an extra point, I would literally run toward customers. My philosophy was, “We are here whether we like it or not. We might as well find a way to make it fun.”
And we did.
At some point early in the afternoon, I was working at the cash register. I was in a jolly mood, filled with Christmas cheer. A lady came to the register with four books to check out. We chitchatted as I scanned the items she was purchasing and completed the transaction. As I placed her books in a bag, I handed her her purchases, smiled and said, “Happy holidays!”
I meant it.
And then I looked up. The look on her face told me something was very wrong. She was not pleased. She huffed and puffed and scowled at me and said, “No thank you!” Then she snatched the bag I was handing her. “You may wish me ‘Merry Christmas’ if you’d like, but do not wish me ‘Happy holidays!’”
Stunned, I mumbled, “Merry Christmas,” and she headed for the door, leaving me staring after her in disbelief. So much for the Christmas spirit.
Five years later, I remember the moment with the same incredulity. How could anyone with a good conscience or heart support this type of behavior? I genuinely wished her happiness — not just for that day, but also for the coming week, when many people take the whole time off between Christmas and New Year’s. I would go before any court arguing that saying “Happy holidays,” does not necessarily imply a politically correct agenda. If her implication was that I was trying to acknowledge Hanukkah, that celebration had been over several weeks by then. Even so, to scowl, scorn and scoff at a person working on Christmas Eve who just offered positive, peaceful wishes to you, seems to negate any spirit of the Christ in Christmas a person could call herself supporting.
A friend of mine said, “I just don’t get it. I’m a devout, practicing Christian, but I really resent being vilified for saying, ‘Happy holidays.’”
Point no. 1: To be certain, there are people out there persecuting others, but the persecutors are not the ones saying, “Happy holidays.” Be nice to them; they’re wishing you well.
Point no. 2: The people working retail are not making a load of money. They have usually been standing on their feet for a long time. With a few exceptions, most of them are good people trying to make ends meet by providing a service to others. They celebrate holidays too. Even if you’re tired and grumpy, this shopping season, go out of your way to be nice to the people who work in retail.
A long time ago, I realized that one of the best ways to understand the true character of a person is to observe how he or she treats those in service positions. Use this season of celebration to show the world the good stuff.

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