Re "This Season, Greetings Are at Issue," Dec. 18: "Happy Holidays" is a perfectly fine "all-purpose" greeting at this time of year. It evolved out of respect for the people among us of different faiths. Christians may still say "Merry Christmas" to each other! Christmas, in its popular manifestations, has become an "all-purpose" folk holiday anyway. It has its joyful aspects, but precious little to do with what Jesus believed in and taught.
The Rev. Jane C. Turner
As a Christian, I was appalled by the article describing a proposed Christian boycott of stores that choose to say "Happy Holidays" rather than "Merry Christmas." A truly spiritual person would want to avoid having Jesus associated with crass holiday merchandizing, yet these religious conservatives are anxious to have his name bandied about in malls to help sell products.
Lisa Hunter Epstein
I was disappointed to read about the aggressive "Merry Christmas" campaign being launched by Christians in the South. As someone who converted to Judaism from Christianity, I've experienced both sides of this issue. As a Christian, I made the switch to "Happy Holidays" as a matter of respect. Why assume everyone celebrated the holiday I did in a month containing multiple religious feasts? Why say something that might make someone feel left out in a season of supposed goodwill? As a Jewish person, "Happy Holidays" keeps me feeling included and respected.
With all the people and children in need this holiday season, I'm sure God is pleased that overworked and underpaid salespeople are using appropriate religious vernacular. When is the absurdity going to stop?
Pastor Patrick Wooden in Raleigh, N.C., wants his congregants to patronize only those establishments where they are greeted with "Merry Christmas." It occurred to me, however, that the guidelines need to be a little clearer, so I offer the following: Jewish, atheist, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslims and pagan merchants -- patronize only if they make an effort to appear to be Christian. Christian merchants -- patronize only if their behavior is based on the assumption that all their customers are Christians. Jehovah's Witnesses -- do not patronize at all. It's always interesting to see Christianity in action.
Reading Gary Lawrence's Dec. 19 commentary, "Pardon My Values, but Merry Christmas to All," my first thought was that it's precisely because 82% of Americans are Christians that it's important to acknowledge and show respect for the customs of those who aren't. Non-Christians hardly have to be reminded of this; Christians sometimes do.
My second thought was that if everyone, of every religious and spiritual persuasion or non-persuasion, could give up being perpetually offended for the last few days of 2004, it would be a happier world. We could try assuming that the person addressing us has good intentions, that he or she just wants to say something nice and isn't trying to be hurtful or make a political point at our expense. Maybe in order to have "peace on Earth," we need to show some "goodwill toward men."
Melissa D. Aaron