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Joe Henderson Columns

Henderson: The phrase is ‘Merry Christmas’

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Published:   |   Updated: December 24, 2013 at 09:09 AM

I have something to say and some of you may find it offensive: Merry Christmas.

I’m not trying to insult anyone, please understand. But the fact is, Wednesday is Christmas and I hope your day is merry. Is it so wrong to wish that for all, or share that sentiment? I surely don’t believe it is.

Yes, I understand Christmas is considered a Christian holiday because, well, it is. That makes some people uncomfortable. I’m not trying to exclude anyone who might share different beliefs, or those who have no beliefs, but I’m also not going to compromise mine.

I mean, I don’t get upset if I hear someone say Happy Hanukkah. If anything, it might make me want to learn more of what that’s all about.

We focus so much on the things that divide us, though, and unfortunately there are some who have turned Christmas into just another wedge. No one, period, should allow that to happen.

I understand there are many who see this another way, but I’m also not going to change my belief that Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus – even given the likelihood he was actually born in late spring or early summer.

It’s the thought that counts.

So I have actually gone out of my way to say “Merry Christmas” now more than in years past, and not because Fox News or anyone else tells me I should. I do it because I believe I should.

In that spirit, what’s the right way to acknowledge the meaning of the day?

For many, there will be family dinners, the joy of opening presents, and basking in the warmth of those closest to us. You don’t have to be Christian to want that, or to take a few moments and savor those blessings. Not everyone has them.

If we truly had peace on earth, there would be no need for soldiers to be away from family and friends. There would be no need for shelters like The Spring of Tampa Bay and the great servants at Metropolitan Ministries to serve as safe haven for women and children in need.

Police and fire rescue people will still protect us on Christmas Day. Doctors and nurses will remain on duty. If you know someone who takes time from their holiday so you can be safe in yours, give them thanks.

And cherish all that you have because nothing is guaranteed.

If you have kids, don’t blink – they will be adults before you know it. If your parents are still with you, let their faces sink into your memory even as they are retelling the same ol’ story you have heard a thousand times.

Trust me, one day you will wish you could hear it for a thousand and one. So, don’t sweat the small stuff or look for insults where there are none.

We have real problems in our city that need attention. Whether someone says “Merry Christmas” when the politically correct phrase is “Happy Holidays” doesn’t come close to being one of them.

Oh, and in case you missed it the first time, Merry Christmas.

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