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Ask the Patriarch 240
Responding to a "Merry Christmas"

from: Richard Eckart

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What do I, an agnostic, say to the many morons who will be telling me "Merry Christmas" this year?

The Patriarch replies:


My current view on this, a view which changes annually, is that the more people saying "Merry Christmas" the better. Christmas for most people, even many Christians, is not a primarily a religious holiday. Regardless of spelling, the "Christ" in "Christmas" is quite ignored. Most people just want to have a good time, and by saying "Merry Christmas," they are wishing you a good time also.

Just as Halloween has lost the religious significance of its name - so much so that the idiot fringe of Christianity want to give it a new supposedly religious name, so also has Christmas. We can emphasize it as a secular holiday by celebrating it in a thoroughly secular way. Embrace the word Christmas and make it ours. Remember - pronounced crissmas.

So in light of that, an appropriate response could be along the lines of "And a very merry Christmas to you, too. I'll be skiing on the day. What are your plans?"

Perhaps that is not to your taste. Perhaps the near universal celebrations at this time of year offend you in some way - regardless of what is being celebrated. You are not interested in Christmas, Solstice, Agnostimas, Newtonmas, Festivus, or even (horror of horrors) my birthday. Then of course, your response should be Dickensian: "Bah humbug." Initially people will laugh at this reply, but eventually, you will get a reputation as one to whom seasonal greetings should not be offered.

Maybe it is just the use of the word " Christmas" that offends you. Still, you are willing to party the season away. If that is the case, then reply with "And a happy holidays to you too." Some people will not notice that you have switched terms, and all will be OK. Others will notice and get your message that you would prefer a simple "Season's Greetings" in future. And a few may actually take offence, and let you know they object to your terminology. And those are the ones that you can tell politely why you don't use the term Christmas. If a heated discussion ensues from your response, well - it is the other person who is wrong-footed. Remember - let the other start the argument, not you.