I don't mind stores celebrating the "Holidays" instead of Christmas. In fact, I myself wish people a "Happy Holiday" if I don't know their religious beliefs. Why? Well, for the simple reason that not everyone celebrates Christmas. And that's okay. In the following post, I'm going to get up on my soapbox (just a small one, though) and share what I see to be the difference between the Holiday and Christmas. And why I celebrate both (C.S. Lewis wrote a satyrical piece on this topic, which you can find here if you're interested).
What is Christmas? I asked my Sunday School class this and the most common answer I received was "Jesus' Birthday" (one girl pointed out that Jesus was actually born on Christmas Eve). Whether or not Jesus was historically born on December 25th, Christmas, derived from "Christ Mass" is the day that church commemorates the birth of the Saviour (incidentally, my protestant Sunday-schoolers didn't know what "mass" was...except for one girl who said it was how much something weighed).
Christmas, for me, is a religious day. A holiday in the true sense of the word, "holy day". The culminating moment of Christmas is the Christmas Eve service, a celebration of birth of Christ, but also a solemn reminder that, as on Christmas song remind us, the shadow of the cross lay over his cradle. All of which is to say that I find Christmas to be a far cry from Santas and trees and lights.
If Christmas is not Santas and trees and lights, then the Holiday is. And I admit that I am taking leeway with the word "holiday" and am using it in its modern sense of a celebration, or a vacation from everyday life.
The Holiday has many traditions, like exchanging gifts, decorating everything in sight and, my personal favourite, Christmas Music (I have a pretty lame music collection, but I'm pretty proud of the over 10 hours of Christmas music I have on my computer).
What is important to keep in mind, though often overlooked by those who protest the replace of "Christmas" with "Holiday", is that the Holiday is itself not without meaning. The Holiday is time to come together with friends and family. It's time of celebration, and also a time of reflection on the past year. The Holiday is also a time when we remember the best of what humans are capable of, when people come together to help the less fortunate, and remember those who can't be with families.
And so, I wish you all a Happy Holiday, and a Merry Christmas!