Merry Christmas everyone… At least I think so… If that’s OK? If you don’t mind.
Not everyone likes ‘Merry Christmas’ and I’m not talking about those who prefer the vacuous term ‘Happy Holidays’. I remember being told that it’s not an appropriate greeting in church circles and that we should also be circumspect about singing the carol ‘God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen’. Apparently, the Queen sets the example. She rarely says ‘Merry Christmas’ in her annual message, preferring to wish us all a ‘Happy Christmas’ instead.
The reason: well the word ‘merry’ has been associated with the insobriety and the anti-social behaviour that follows, particularly at Christmas time – so let us have a ‘Happy’ or a ‘Blessed’ Christmas, but certainly not a ‘Merry’ Christmas.
It all comes down to how we understand the meaning of the words we use. ‘Merry’ derives from the Old English ‘myrige’, which meant, not ‘intoxicated’, but ‘pleasant and agreeable’ as in the old English song ‘The Merry, Merry Month of May’.
By this definition, I certainly want everyone to have a very Merry Christmas.
But herein lies the challenge. Often, in families, in busyness, in loneliness, in mounting expenses and hot summer days, Christmas can be anything but merry. We get frustrated, impatient, and crabby – and then we add alcohol to the mix. What hope!
Great hope for those who follow Jesus. The best way to enjoy a Merry Christmas is to affirm the peace and hope and joy that we have in the gift of God’s Son to save us from our sins. That is the most ‘pleasant and agreeable’ news of all.
So, Merry Christmas everyone. This time I’m sure of it.