Merry Christmas! Christmas is here. Just look around! In fact, in many places, you have probably seen the commercial hints at Christmas since just after Halloween! Each year it begins earlier and earlier. It used to be that you did not see decorations or hear Christmas carols until after Thanksgiving. Now you can observe both much earlier.
Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays?
If you are a Christian, you have likely been involved in the debate over whether you should say, “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays.” If you are a Christian business leader, then you may have faced this issue with your customers as well.
Before you get your feathers ruffled either way, please know that I am not judging anyone on either side of the debate. I am not going to fight with someone over this any more than I would over red or green carpet in the church sanctuary. You can have your opinion and I will respect it. As long as you have thought it out and have your reasons, I respect your position.
In fact, this post is NOT about the debate. I am NOT telling you to say, “Merry Christmas” or not. That is up to you. This post is actually my first in a series I introduced in my post “How To Do Christian Ministry in Business” that highlights various ways our company attempts to integrate our Christian faith into the business. This post is simply a description of one of these practices.
While I am not telling you which way you should fall, I choose to fall on the side of saying Merry Christmas. I choose to do this as a reminder to myself and others that Christ is to be the central focus of the Christmas season. In doing so, I become more aware of the times and places where it is not said.
Many Businesses Dropping “Merry Christmas”
Many businesses, in an effort not to offend customers, have made the change to “Happy Holidays” in their Christmas (or Holiday) cards, advertising, and other communications. They send Holiday cards and put up Holiday trees. Some companies go as far as telling their employees that they are not allowed to say, “Merry Christmas” to customers. Others will allow it if the customer says it first.
In an effort to take a position on this, I made a decision that our company would not take this route. I do not dictate what any of our employees are to say to our customers, but I do make sure that any official communication from our company says, “Merry Christmas.”
Painting Our Windows
One of the ways we do this is to paint up our showroom windows within a day or two after Thanksgiving. We have done it for years in an effort to get into the Christmas spirit and move our customers that way as well. I have had the same guy painting these windows every year for as long as I can remember.
He does a really good job and is very dependable. Every year, he calls me the day after Thanksgiving and asks if I want the windows painted again. There is very little conversation because we have done it the same way for so long!
Well, the first Christmas after making my decision to turn our business over to God, I was walking through one of the buildings shortly after Thanksgiving and noticed he was busy at work painting the windows. But then I stopped and stared. I suddenly realized he was halfway through the “Happy” in “Happy Holidays!”
I was stunned. Not angry, just surprised. I walked straight over to him and asked why he had chosen to change the wording. He said that he had just been asked by most of his clients that year to change the wording away from Merry Christmas so they would not offend anyone. He just assumed I felt the same way.
After I explained my position, he was so grateful! He said it killed him to make the change to “Happy Holidays,” but that he was simply honoring the clients’ wishes. He proceeded to honor my request, going back to “Merry Christmas,” and thanked me for allowing him to do so!
Now, every year he calls me and asks if we want the windows painted again. He then follows right up with, “…and we are still doing ‘Merry Christmas,’ right?”
So what are the results of this decision? The ACLU has not shown up to force us to remove the signs. No one has sued us for discrimination. No one has complained that they are offended by our painted windows. (Of course, that does not mean no one has been offended, just that no one has spoken up.)
Our employees have made various comments over the years that affirmed this decision. Our window painter was certainly excited about our decision. Finally, in a small way, we have made a statement about where we stand.
I hope this small example encourages you to do something similar. At least, I hope it causes you to think about what you are doing (or not doing) and why!
Originally posted 12/9/11
Do you have an opportunity to take a similar stand?
What obstacles do you have in your mind that are holding you back?
Have you prayed about this?