Jenny Lind Schmitt

Lifestyle Design

Why I'll Be Wishing You Merry Christmas

Please don't be offended that I want to wish you something good and real.

Posted Dec 21, 2009

All through the month of December, as the tribe and I leave the orthodontist or the grocery store, after the expected cry to "wear your retainer!" or "Thank you for shopping at Safeway!" people keep calling out "Happy Holidays!" with a vague questioning air. And increasingly, I find I am unable to answer in kind.

The trouble is what I feel in my soul when I wish someone Happy Holidays: nothing, zilch, nada, blandness topped with an insipid cherry of gray vapor. "Happy Holidays" carries about the same meaning and weight as wishing you "Happy Tax Day" or "Happy Columbus Day." It's the smiley face without a smile, telling you to "Have a Day." It's me saying, I care about you so little that I am wishing you this bland, non-commital rice cake of a greeting because we both know it's expected of us, and neither of us wants too much involvement.

But I just can't do it anymore. I turned forty this year, and I am learning that life is too short for stuff that is pointless.

So I'm going back to my old greeting of "Merry Christmas." When I wish you "Merry Christmas," I am wishing you from my heart everything that I believe is beautiful and good and true in the world. When I wish you Merry Christmas, I am wishing you the same stab of joy I felt the day I heard that Nelson Mandela was released from prison, or when the Berlin Wall fell:  The prisoners have been set free! Now there must be a celebration!

I am wishing you the best part of the best story, that we all intrinsically know from the first book on our mama's lap. Against the odds, the Hero has arrived on the scene, and though we still have to live through some exciting pages, our hearts leap because we know it's all going to end well: God is here, God is with us, He has come to our rescue. That is Christmas.

Now here's the deal: I'll reciprocate. If you wish me Happy Kwanzaa or Blessed Eid or Jolly Solstice or Happy Hannukah, I promise not to be offended either. I will instead be grateful that you care enough about me to wish me something that has real meaning to you. Not because I think truth is relative, but because it will give me insight into who you are, what makes you tick, and how to better understand you. And in the understanding and trying to understand, hopefully you and I will grow closer together as people, as humans on this perilous journey of life.

So in this world, where so much is wrong, and in this season, when it's so dark and so cold, I thank you for reading, and I wish you all that is good and true and beautiful.