Just so you know, I am pro-Merriment: Laughter, good drinks, tasty morsels, well-appointed décor, and convivial vibes amongst kith and kin gathered ‘round. It’s the part of my personal platform that enjoys broad approval. I have no qualms shooting Merry Christmases from the hip with almost no aiming. I approve this message.
And no, I don’t think pious do-gooders are culturally brave for not saying Happy Holidays. And no, I don’t think anyone is hurting the baby Jesus by saying Happy Holidays!, either. If you have discovered a way to take the Christ out of Christmas then you’ve also discovered a way to take all the salt out of the ocean. Happy Desalinating!
Merriment doesn’t seem that important regardless of how the Beastie Boys made it sound:
Hardly revolutionary. Who are these mysterious Redcoats restricting jolliness? Doesn’t everybody love a party?
But saying Merry Christmas! is too limited. There are places where merriment cannot go. And if Christmas is for all the people, then maybe we should all re-think the Merry Christmas! crusade.
Places merry cannot go? Yes, like in the hospital room with a couple who has just miscarried. Like in a cold hotel room staring at the mini bar. Like losing a child. Like being freshly separated from your marriage of 12 years. Like in juvenile detention centers. Like in prisons. Like in mental health facilities. Like in funeral homes. Like in cost-effective nursing homes with hallways that have a combo smell of urine and Mr.-Clean-for-commercial-use. Like in hospices. Like in burn wards. Like in cancer clinics. Like in refugee camps. Like in homeless enclaves. Like when your loved one’s body has gone septic and you watch black splotches of death spread across their face, arms, and hands. Like when your friend screams into the floor, “I don’t know if I can take this anymore. Please, God. I don’t think I can.”
Merry Christmas! You can’t take that everywhere. And if you can’t take Christmas to every place, then maybe it’s less Christmas than you imagine.
Fleming Rutledge wrote that “Christmas always begins in the dark,” which doesn’t sound merry at all.
In a recent Saturday Night Live! skit, a jokester commented on the reality of a Covid-19 vaccine finally being manufactured and distributed: “Wow, the light at the end of this tunnel makes us see how smelly and dirty the tunnel actually is.” As a joke, probably a C+. As Christmas, A+.