The “C” Word (Relax, it’s Only Christmas!)

There’s a lyric in Sloan’s Underwhelmed which states, “The point is not the grammar, it’s
the feeling.” And for many companies, that sentiment makes it tough to get sentimental during this time of year.

Do they use the “C” word? If they show Santa, will it offend the Christians? Do I acknowledge Kwanzaa? What about Hanukkah? Diwali?

It’s enough to make one’s head spin. And, in the end, our heartfelt greetings get watered down to the placid “Happy Holidays” or the completely neutered “Season’s Greetings” (a statement, if you think about it, that can be used at any time – summer’s a season, after all.)

What makes it challenging for companies is that few linguistic debates stir up so much rancor – and I can’t think of any others that see people assign you to a side no matter what your actual beliefs may be.

Merry Christmas? Oh, they’re obviously Bible-thumping Christians. Happy Holidays? Oh, they must hate Baby Jesus.

Is it any wonder that some companies — and people — try to figure out how to avoid the issue altogether?

And that’s just sad. Because whether you believe in the story of the nativity, Santa Claus, or a combination of both, Christmas is rooted in many of the same traditions – spending time with family and friends, showing our appreciation for one another, and giving.

That’s the message that gets lost in the secular/spiritual shuffle. Merry Christmas, for decades, was solely a message of goodwill and hope. It wasn’t imbued with judgment and negativity.

Maybe it’s just me. I’m not offended by a manger scene in a public square. But I’m also not offended by Santa puffing on his pipe, I’m not offended by a menorah in a window. I don’t look at it as an effort to convert me one way or another. And I’ve previously addressed the challenges with the Christ in Christmas argument.

Instead, I prefer to hear “Merry Christmas” as a sharing of someone’s heart – an expression of peace, love, and goodwill.

Just as I don’t expect everyone in the world to greet me using the same language, nor do I expect them to express their sentiments using the same symbols, beliefs, or creed.

From a corporate perspective, I always advocate that businesses use their own voice when creating content, so it would be hypocritical of me to do otherwise now.

These statements, blessings, and wishes are a gift – the gift of caring. And it’s in that manner we should both give and receive them.

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