Posted On November 28, 2019 By In Regulars With 170 Views

First Word with Sue Hodgson

Publisher & Owner –

I love the holidays but for some the season starts much too soon. At least the U.S. has the benefit of a late Thanksgiving date, which happily delays the start of the festive season. There’s just something not right about holiday music piped through an establishment on a mild fall day, before we’ve even commemorated Remembrance Day and before the kids have finished off the Halloween candy. But as our friends down south enjoy their Thanksgiving turkey and prepare for Black Friday – their much ballyhooed unofficial start to the Christmas shopping season – many of us find ourselves finally warming up to the holiday season.

Which brings us to a common topic this time of the year: what are the proper greetings and terms to use? In an effort to be inclusive, many people have opted to use “Happy Holidays” over “Merry Christmas” or some other specific celebration. This use of a broad, nondescript term is intended to be politically correct and to avoid disregarding other individuals and their beliefs.

Our society’s increasing religious diversity might make the holiday season a little more complicated than it used to be. But really, it isn’t so hard to be true to our own beliefs, whether those of the majority or of a minority, while being respectful of others. While it’s a nice consideration, it’s certainly not a fool-proof method. Offense is taken, not given.

Sometimes, no matter what you say, or don’t say, someone may still get offended. I think this gives us all a great opportunity to step into someone else’s shoes and act like decent human beings. If someone offers you a greeting that isn’t specific to your celebration, or lack thereof, pause for a second and remember a couple of things. First: that person is offering you a friendly greeting; they aren’t trying to ruin your day with a mere two words. In fact, they are trying to brighten it with those two words. Second: recognize that it’s impossible for a random stranger to know what holiday you celebrate or if you celebrate at all. We should be thankful that some stranger is in a cheery enough mood to wish us joy; we can use it as an educational opportunity, when possible, to share more about our holiday, religion or culture. Shoes come in pairs though. So while it’s very important for the recipient of a greeting to be more thankful and less critical, it’s equally important to choose our words carefully.

So what’s the best greeting to give to strangers? There probably isn’t one, but as we all come together to help light up the darkest month, messages of goodwill will surely be welcome in any form they come. And as they say, a smile (too) is worth 1,000 words!



Your West Coast Culture. A magazine about the people and places that make the Saanich Peninsula the little piece of paradise we call home.

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