Every year, I find myself in the same Christmas quandary. No, not the secular versus religious quandary: it’s bigger and less significant than that. It’s the Merry Christmas response quandary.
It goes a little something like this. I interact with a person at the grocery store, the office, or even at my house when someone delivers a package, and they greet me with a bit of Christmas cheer.
“Merry Christmas!” they say, merrily.
“You, too!” I say back, which is the easy part.
The hard part is if the conversation continues. “Are you all ready for Christmas?” “Are your kids looking forward to Christmas?” and after Christmas, for at least a couple of weeks, “So, did you have a nice Christmas?”
I usually go with a vague response such as, “Pretty much,” or “Sure” or “It was pretty quiet,” which are not lies, and usually carries the conversation to a finishing point pretty fast with most acquaintances, because then I can say, “And you?”
However, there’s the 5%. The 5% who keep the conversation going until we get to the point of no return, where I have run out of vague responses and am forced to out myself as a non-Christmas celebrator.
Which leads to the person acting humbled or embarrassed or dumbstruck and me feeling ridiculous.
I am white. I live in the rural(ish) Midwest. And I don’t celebrate Christmas. It blows people’s mind, I know that. But I don’t know how to break it to them gently.
Christmassers, this is my plea to you: at what point do you want me to tell you that I don’t celebrate Christmas? What response would make us all feel super happy wonderful?
A. “Merry Christmas!” “Thanks, but I’m Jewish.”
B. “Merry Christmas!” “You too!” “So are your kids excited about Christmas?” “No, they hate Christmas, because we don’t celebrate it and they think the world has duped them with their set of circumstances.”
C. “Merry Christmas!” “You too!” “Do you have big plans for Christmas?” “Nope.” “It’s a wonderful time of year, isn’t it?” “Sure is.” “Have you finished your shopping yet?” “I don’t really do any shopping.” “Wow, that is so refreshing to hear. You know the real meaning of the season.” “…”
D. “Merry Christmas!” …
Give me a response D. Give me your best Merry Christmas response. And in return, I will wish you a merry Christmas, a happy yule, a delightful solstice, and a safe New Year.