Season’s greetings! Happy holidays!
When one hears those sentiments, it is tempting to respond with an aggressive “Merry Christmas” as if to punctuate one’s disdain for the other person’s lack of awareness or belief in the birth of Christ.
It’s cultural appropriation! It’s secularization! It’s annoying!
Maybe. But, in many if not most cases, it is an attempt by a person to participate in something he or she may not fully understand but the importance of which they sense.
During this Advent season, and as we enter into the Christmas season, know that there are those who see the light reflected in the season, and hopefully in us, and even though they may not grasp it completely, they perceive it and want to share it, and perhaps even want to understand it.
We are all called to be evangelists. The word “evangelion” in Greek simply means a herald of good news.
Start out by meeting people where they are, and not being angry that they don’t seem to have as complete an understanding of the holy day (holiday?) as you might.
In this season, be aware that many of those you encounter are aware that the season is about joy and hope and optimism and redemption, even though they may not completely comprehend how or why.
Take the opportunity to show them joy and hope and optimism. Be charitable. Assume the best, not the worst. Be as gentle and forgiving with other people as you hope the judge of all things will be with you.
No one is excited about a message that seems to be about anger and correctness. People are drawn to truth, beauty and optimism, which is why people — all kinds of people — are drawn to Christmas.
Six hundred years before Christ, Isaiah, writing specifically about the nativity, noted that those who walked in darkness have seen a great light, and that those who suffered under burdens have had the rods of their taskmaster smashed.
Everyone you meet is struggling with loneliness and darkness and bearing burdens that you can only imagine. As best we can, we are supposed to be the light for those who walk in darkness. We are supposed to help bear the burdens of others.
One of the best things about Christmas is that for a time, at least, we all set down our cudgels and treat everyone like what they truly are — fellow passengers in this very uncertain boat.
When someone wishes you season’s greetings or happy holidays, or whatever, don’t be annoyed. Take it as opportunity to share the truth and be a light in the darkness. Treat everyone with kindness, and help them have a merry Christmas.
• Michael McKenna, a columnist for The Washington Times, is the president of MWR Strategies. He was most recently a deputy assistant to the president and deputy director of the Office of Legislative Affairs at the White House.