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Christmas treeSome object to this traditional greeting, preferring “Happy Holidays.” Christianity, they point out, is not the only religion embraced by Americans. Automatically greeting our friends and neighbors with a Christian greeting, they believe, is somehow . . .well thoughtless and rude.

The fact is that over the years, Christmas has become for many a secular holiday. It didn’t used to be so, but since the mid-19th century the secular trappings have become more and more important.

Nevertheless, it is still Christmas we are celebrating at this time of year whether we believe that the birth of Jesus Christ was God’s gift to man or not. December 25, the day Christians celebrate the birth, is the date of the federal holiday when we are all free to come together and celebrate as we wish.

Santa Claus, the Christmas tree with its colored lights, the candles, the gift-giving, the egg nog and turkey, the gathering of the sometimes far-flung family, the impulse to generosity to those less fortunate than ourselves—for some this is what Christmas is. For Christians, of course, it has sacred significance that far transcends these traditional trappings. And followers of another faith may choose to ignore Christmas altogether.

As Christians, this is all okay with us. We would not deprive our non-believing friends of the secular joys of Christmas. And we will wish our Jewish friends and relatives “Happy Hannukah.” But the rest of you are going to hear “Merry Christmas” from us. We will not ask before we speak if you love the baby Jesus. And we don’t intend to adopt what to us seems to be a phrase that diminishes all serious religions. “Happy Holidays” is almost as bad as “Happy eh, whatever.” And insistence of its use seems to us to speak of a kind of preening sensitivity. People today are just too easily offended.     MLK, HWK