Merry Christmas – There, I Said It!

Stephen Chernin

(The opinions expressed in guest op-eds are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of

We’re approaching the holidays – a word used to encompass the season from Thanksgiving to Christmas to New Year’s (and everything in between.) But when it comes to greetings, we’ve all been whipped into saying Happy Holidays or Season’s Greetings – so as not to offend someone who doesn’t celebrate Christmas. I celebrate Christmas – all of it. I love the gift-giving, the decorating, the family time, and yes, the church services. I know the meaning of Christmas – the real meaning.


I would venture to guess that most Americans celebrate Christmas, whether they observe the Christian traditions or not. We grew up with “Christmas break” in schools (it’s now winter break); we sang “Christmas carols” (now referred to as holiday songs); we buy and decorate a Christmas tree (not sure what they’d call that!); we send out Christmas cards. Those things, those names, don’t change just because you don’t believe in the true meaning of Christmas. A pig is still a pig, even if you call it a duck.

December 25th is when we celebrate the birth of Christ. We do that by exchanging gifts with loved ones, singing carols, going to church and, hopefully, being a little more gracious to everyone than usual. But to Christians, it’s a very meaningful day.

I get it – we have many different cultures in this melting pot we call America.  ome celebrate Hannukah. Some celebrate Kwanzaa. Some just howl at the moon (don’t laugh – I had a friend who did that!). We are all free to celebrate whatever and whenever we wish. That’s the heart of America – freedom of religion, freedom of expression.

So, why am I not free to wish someone a merry Christmas? It is not meant to offend – it is meant to spread joy. If you want to wish me a Happy Kwanzaa, I’ll say “thank you!” If you say “Happy Hannukah,” I’ll say “Thanks, to you too!” I’ve even had people shout at me “Happy Cinco de Mayo!” I don’t look Hispanic, I don’t speak the language well, but instead of getting upset, I grab a margarita and say, “You too!” I’m not offended – how can I be? It’s not an insult or an assumption; it’s simply an expression of well wishes and love.


Recently, my town decided to forego a lighting of the “Christmas tree” because some people don’t celebrate Christmas and we wouldn’t want them to feel left out. Instead, we orchestrated a “Light up the Lake,” where attendees floated luminaries onto the pond in front of City Hall. It was cool but not exactly “Christmas-y.”

In deciding what to hand out at the event, ornaments were struck down, as some people may not decorate a tree. I kid you not. Instead, we distributed mini flashlights. We also were not allowed to hand out hot chocolate and cookies (heaven forbid someone has a peanut allergy or spills the hot beverage and burns themselves).

Yet Americans don’t hesitate to take off Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, do they? If you don’t believe in Christmas and don’t celebrate it, you should not get those days off. Anymore than I, as a Christian, should get Rosh Hashanah off.

We need to take back Christmas. If you don’t want to celebrate it, you don’t have to. But for those who do, let them! I don’t celebrate Black History Month or Gay Pride Month or Mother’s Day, for that matter (I’m not black, gay or a mother). But I have absolutely no problem with others wanting to – and being able to – celebrate. Then, why should Christmas offend?

Albert Einstein said, “If I were to remain silent, I’d be guilty of complicity.” By not speaking up, by not standing up for what we believe, we are letting others decide how we will live. We are complicit in the demise of “Christmas.” Complaining to each other doesn’t help. Taking action does. Here’s a challenge for you all: Wish people a merry Christmas this year, with all the joy you can muster.


I’m going out on a limb here. And if you’re offended, that’s on you, not me. I hope you have a very, merry Christmas. I hope the Spirit of the season completely surrounds you. And may you realize how richly God has blessed us all.

Patty Deutsche is a communications executive who loves the Christmas season.  From the Hallmark movies to finding the perfect gift for everyone, homemade eggnog and remembering how much better she has it than that Baby in the manger 2000+ years ago.  She’d celebrate Christmas year-round if the neighbors would let her!  Patty can be reached here.


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