Sunday, December 18, 2005

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

Note in November 2011: The following was my very first blog post. I'm no longer either homeschooling or working at J.C. Penney. But I'm guessing the points are probably as applicable today as ever.

Hello to anyone reading this blog!

I hope that my posts will be of interest to you. I am a full time Catholic homeschooling mom, and a part-time cashier at J.C. Penney. I wrote the following last night about Christmas shopping, and about "Merry Christmas" vs. "Happy Holidays":

A few of us may still have to jostle the crowds and wait in those long lines for check out. Some may be joining the crusades against the "Happy Holidays" greeting that is being promoted more and more in the stores and their literature, and even among consumers who want to be socially correct. I do think all the media coverage of this "protest" may be a good thing, as it may be helping people remember the "reason for the season". But on a person-to-person basis, let's be sure that the spirit we are promoting is truly a spirit of Christian love.

I know of one department manager who was approached on the day after Thanksgiving by an irritated customer who complained that none of the salesgirls had wished her a Merry Christmas. Angry customers do not build up Christmas spirit. And, this manager just happened to be Jewish, although I'm sure the customer didn't realize that. I think I know what that manager would do if a customer wished her a Merry Christmas. Smile. Probably thank her. We don't have to pussy-foot around and not wish someone a Merry Christmas in case they aren't Christian. But let's think about what message we send, if we are making angry complaints.

Today I had a customer who, when she found out I could not put three things on one gift receipt and two on another (in the same transaction), said with irritation "just forget the gift receipt then!". Then, when I said, "Merry Christmas" at the end, she said, in an unhappy sort of way, "Thanks for saying that. I don't want to hear 'Happy Holidays' again!" She said this all in one breath, the last sentence with great irritation and walked away. I was left a little more emotionally drained, and wondering what 'Merry Christmas' really means to her.

What holidays do we have at this season? Since Thanksgiving, we had the Feast of St. Nicholas, followed - for those of us who are Catholics - by the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Then we have Christmas, followed by all the wonderful saint days, and then the Feast of the Circumcision. So, really, if someone wishes me "Happy Holidays", personally I just thank them and wish them the same. If their holidays are different, then I respect them as a person. If they are the same as mine, then they we have plenty of holidays to celebrate. When I am the one to initiate the greeting, I do wish everyone a Merry Christmas without apology.

I think one of the most important things about Christmas is the Christian love we show. It can be very difficult to be patient and kind when faced with crowded stores, heavy bags, disappointing shortages, upsetting store policies, and so on. Whenever we as consumers can rise above these things to offer someone a kind spirit, I believe we are doing the spiritual works of mercy. Even if our own emotions are drained and we can't offer a big friendly smile; if we can be understanding, it goes a long way. As a salesperson, when a customer says, "I'm upset, but I'm not angry with you, because I know it's not your fault," then I am not made a little more exhausted by feeling their anger...because I know it's not directed at me. When a customer expresses appreciation or just a little sympathy for me as another tired human being, it gives me a bit of energy to get through the day or the evening. Thank you for sharing your Christian/Christmas spirit with those of us who make it possible to buy the things you want to give!

And may you all have a very:
Merry Christmas!