“Happy Holidays!” the barista said cheerfully, as he set the steaming pumpkin spice latte on the bar in front of her.
“You mean Merry Christmas,” she insisted, smiling back.
This is what “Keep Christ in Christmas” means for many people. We often believe it’s our Christian duty to emphasize one-holiday greeting over another. But the truth is, saying “Merry Christmas” is not how we share Jesus with the world. Loving each other is.
So here are 3 ways to keep Christ in Christmas this year, even if you say “Happy Holidays.”
1. Smile and say hello
In the holiday movie “Elf,” Buddy the Elf (Will Farrell) says, “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.”
And I think he’s onto something. I’m not telling you to belt out the lyrics to Jingle Bells as you stroll the isles of JC Penny’s. Although, if that works for you, go for it. But just like Buddy, we should make it our goal to brighten someone’s day wherever we go.
We sing every December about Jesus’ desire to bring “Joy to the world.” So, if we want to keep Christ in Christmas, we should do the same. This holiday season, let’s remember to smile, be kind and ask our cashiers how their day is going.
2. Be generous in small ways
Christmas is the season of generosity. In fact, about 30% of all annual charitable donations are given in December. That’s not just because we want to increase our tax deductions before the year ends. It’s because we want to love and bless others.
But while giving to charity is important, it’s not what I’m talking about here.
I’m talking about being generous in small ways by tipping your waiters and baristas well, buying coffee for your coworkers and letting someone else take the last item in stock on Black Friday.
These small acts of charity keep Christ in Christmas because they encapsulate the generous heart of God. After all, John 3:16 tells us that God was so generous that he gave us the gift of His only Son. Let’s follow suit.
3. Be kind to your extended family
If we could summarize the mission of Christmas with one phrase, it would be “peace on earth.” That’s the message the angels declared to a group of shepherds the night Jesus was born.
Peace is a nice idea as long as we’re thinking about it globally. But if we’re talking about peace in our own lives and relationships, it starts to get complicated. If you’ve ever spent time with extended family during the holiday, you probably know what I’m talking about.
Saying ‘Merry Christmas’ is not how we share Jesus with the world. Loving each other is.
Many of us do everything we can to avoid family until Christmas time. And then come December, our goal is to just get through the holiday without arguing politics or exploding over critiques about how we raise our kids.
Let’s face it. We could all use some of that peace on earth the angels sang to the shepherds about.
This year, let’s keep Christ in Christmas by turning the other cheek and being kind to our family no matter what. Let’s ask God to help us serve, bless and encourage them.