What’s wrong with being all-inclusive?

I was reading the headlines on CNN.com this morning, and I found this article about Wal-Mart deciding to use "Merry Christmas" instead of "Happy Holidays" this year.

Wal-Mart has told its employees that it's OK to once again greet shoppers by saying "Merry Christmas" this holiday season instead of the generic "Happy Holidays."

CNN confirmed that Wal-Mart will announce Thursday that it plans to use the phrase "Merry Christmas" in products and around its stores this holiday season.

The announcement comes a year after religious groups such as The American Family Association and The Catholic League boycotted retailers including Wal-Mart last holiday season for excluding the word "Christmas" from products sold in stores.

"We, quite frankly, have learned a lesson from last year," Wal-Mart spokeswoman Linda Blakley told USA Today in a separate report. "We're not afraid to use the term 'Merry Christmas.' We'll use it early, and we'll use it often."

First of all, let me say that I'm Jewish, and I have no problem with a store using the word Christmas on any of their products, especially things that are obviously Christmas products.  What I don't understand is why clerks saying "Happy Holidays" to customers is so offensive to some people that are Christian.  Does it bother them that a store wants to include me in their greeting?

I really didn't need another reason not to shop at Wal-Mart anyway.  Their business practices and the way that they treat employees have already prevented me from shopping there unless I have no other option.  But it isn't just Wal-Mart that is affected by the "Merry Christmas Wars" of 2005. 

Last year, I went to a local Hallmark to buy some Chanukkah candles, cards, wrapping paper, and other assorted Chanukkah stuff.  When the store clerk rang up my order, she simply said "Goodbye, and have a nice day" since I obviously was not Christian.  Well, her manager turned around when she heard her forget to say "Merry Christmas" and yelled it at me before I could get out of the store, then preceded to scold her employee for not using the correct holiday greeting.  If I thought that she was just doing that to everyone and not rectifying her employee's apparent misstep, I would have rolled my eyes and left.  Instead, I turned around and held up my bag full of Chanukkah stuff and said, "Happy Chanukkah."  Her face turned red with embarrasment, and I must say that it felt good.

Okay, thanks for reading my rant.  My point is that carrying Christmas specific merchandise and advertising for Christmas is fine, but being inclusive of other religions by simply saying "Happy Holidays" to everyone is good customer service.  I'm not even offended when people say "Merry Christmas" to me, but I am offended when a store makes it a policy to exclude everyone but Christians in their holiday greetings.

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11 thoughts on “What’s wrong with being all-inclusive?

  1. Ah, yes. You have ran into what this country calls the idea of freedom of religion really means 'you can believe in any religion as long as it is Christian'.

  2. I completely agree with you! I'm Christian and I believe that very obvious Christian holiday symbols should be preceded by "Merry Christmas", but does that mean that's the only holiday out there? No! Does that mean Christians are the only ones to shop for holiday decorations? No! What it means is we have bigger mouths about our fake trees and glittery decorations than most. I personally am disgusted by the commercialization of Christianity when it comes to holidays like Christmas & Easter. The decorations they are crying so loud about have next to nothing to do with the actual Christian meaning of the holiday anyhow – so why fight so hard to keep them?

  3. Yeah I think I've had that same experience too when buying stuff that was clearly not a christmas gift and had the word Chanukkah on it. It does not bother me though. If they want to say "Merry Christmas" I just say you too.

  4. I don't understand this at all. Inclusion is good. The world is not homogenous. No culture, religion, or ethnicity that I can think of would be offended by an inclusive "Happy Holidays", but "Merry Christmas" is specific and Christian-centric. I think we should embrace and include everyone whenever possible.

  5. I just realized that I lumped all Christians in together, and I didn't mean to. I'm only referring to those that have a problem with the "Happy Holidays" greeting. I'll edit that in a sec.I've had Christian friends say almost the same thing as you about the fuss over decorations and whatnot. I happen to love the holiday season. My dad is Christian, and my mom is Jewish so we've always had a tree and all the other stuff that goes along with it. I like the music and movies, and it's supposed to be a season of giving. It has definitely turned into a season of giving presents.

  6. Ha, that's funny. I'm on someone's RSS reader… Awesome! (OK, it is my brother).I don't mind people saying "Merry Christmas" when I'm obviously buying Chanukkah stuff. I just chuckle and say "you too." It only bothered me because she went out of her way to do it and not because she was trying to be nice.

  7. Yeah Daddy is not really Christian! LOL! He's never been to church in the time I have been alive. See I think all the religions should merge with each other like corporations do. Think of the peace it would create! 🙂

  8. oh, the joyous start of the holiday season. what is really funny/sad about all of this is that the right-wing fundamentalist christian groups who have threatened boycotts (a) don't represent the beliefs, attitudes or feelings of the majority of christians, and (b) wouldn't actually completely boycott stores like wal-mart because christmas these days is all about buying cheap crap made by slave labor to bribe your loved ones into tolerating you the remainder of the year. as someone raised christian, i have to say that i really like the core ideas of love thy neighbor as thyself, but am finding it hard to see that in action. anyhow, enough of my follow-up rant. happy holidays!

  9. I found this a bit late but I just wanted to say 'great post.'I've never actually had anyone wish me "Merry Christmas" while buying Chanukkah stuff (though that would be pretty funny — if done in a way that wasn't so obnoxious, as your encounter was) but I've definitely had it happen in general settings. I usually just say, "Merry Christmas to you" back — call me crazy but tacking on the "to you" part makes me feel less like a participant (and I don't want to participate) but still polite. The crazy part — and this is what I originally meant to share — is that while working retail not too long ago, my co-workers were very pro-"Merry Christmas" even though the company did not push it. They thought "Happy Holidays" was too PC. They didn't really get the inclusive reasoning so I just let it go. What was more amusing though was when I would wish customers "Happy Holidays" and some would make a point to loudly and ve-ry ar-tic-u-late-ly wish me a "Merry Christmas" — as if I was killing Jesus myself just by not giving them the greeting they desired. That freaked me out. Some would ask if the evil corporation wouldn't let me say "M-C" and I would try to explain the inclusiveness aspect. Sometimes that would pacify them; sometimes it just elicited a "tsk, tsk" and don't-you-knowyou're-going-to-hell look. All in all, I look back on it now and laugh. There were definitely a few times though that I really wished I was somewhere else — but that's just the life of retail, particularly around the holidays.Anyhow, "happy holidays" – heh.

  10. I, in truth, am in complete agreement with the sentiments state above. I think an added problem that I have is that when you walk into major establishments such as Dillards, or Wal-Mart, that's all you see – Christmas, Christmas, and more Christmas, but nothing about Khanukah, or Kwanza, or the Winter Solstice, or any other holiday celebrated at that time, only Christmas. And then they complain over "Happy Holiday"?

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