Don't worry...this is not a political post. It's just that time of year and I've been seeing a lot of memes on this theme. As a life coach, I feel that people create a lot of unnecessary drama around this issue.
From my line of work, I come at this with two different basic principles:
1. Every thought is a choice.
2. Nobody can actually offend you.
(Btw, if you can truly accept and believe these two ideas, your life will change for the better!)
First of all, #1. We all have the power to choose how we think about something. If you need evidence of this, think about a person you don't really like--a person who offends you--who still manages to have friends. You don't like that person because of the way you think about him. His friends like him because they think differently about him.
Let's say you are in the "Merry Christmas" camp. You have an exchange with someone in the grocery line. "Merry Christmas," you say. "And happy holidays to you!" comes the reply. Now, how do you think about this exchange. Do you think, "Well, that was pleasant" or do you think "Happy holidays? It's Merry Christmas. Why are people always trying to take away the meaning of Christmas? Why do people care more about being politically correct than upholding tradition? IT'S MERRY CHRISTMAS, DARNIT!"
Likewise, if you are in the "Happy Holidays" camp and have the same exchange, are you thinking, "Well, that was pleasant" or are you thinking "Merry Christmas? How does she know that I celebrate Christmas? Maybe I'm Jewish. Why do people have to be so exclusive? Why does she have to push her beliefs on everyone else? IT'S HAPPY HOLIDAYS, DARNIT!"
Do you see how different thinking leads to different ways of feeling about the issue? This leads me to #2: Nobody can actually offend you. Say what?!? That's right. Nobody can actually offend you. Go back to the first example of the person you don't like. If he had the power to offend you, then he would have that power over everyone else. You are offended because you CHOOSE to be offended.
Now, I'm not condoning obnoxious or rude behavior. And I'm not saying that you shouldn't take up an issue when you feel a real wrong is being committed. However, little exchanges like this, little annoyances...c'mon...what does somebody else's greeting have to do with what the holidays me to you and your enjoyment of them?
Let's look at this from another angle. If every time somebody says the "wrong" greeting you get a little prickly, you are allowing that negativity in. That person in the check out line may or may not be offended by your choice of greeting, but in the end, it doesn't matter. Your annoyance (in most cases) only affects YOU. You are giving that person power to minimize your values. You can't ever really know another person's motivation, and you definitely can't control another's behavior. When your well-being hinges on the behavior of others, you are setting yourself up for a life of disappointment.
Do you see what I did there? I went from the specific to the general. The way we get worked up about how we express holiday greetings speaks to a universal truth about all kinds of behaviors. In other words, don't give somebody the power to affect how you feel. Live in your own power.
How do we do this? Here are some ideas to ponder: