I don't feel this strongly about it, but I thought I'd post something I came across today.
I go the Harry Potter route and say "Happy Christmas"
ok no I don't but I wish I could pull that off.
I say happy christmas, Ron. All the time. And I expect to be addressed as Harry.
(It's not christmas when I say this)
Kind of a +1 to the bulk of this thread. I'm a "Happy holidays" girl, but I don't care all that much. My grandparents are pretty vehement about putting "Merry Christmas" on their Christmas cards because they fall into that War On Christmas camp, but it's one of those things that's not even remotely worth arguing about. I'll adjust if I know that the people I'm speaking with are sensitive, mostly because I don't give a shit.
I don't think I've ever heard anyone say Happy Holidays in the UK, although I have seen festive cards that say it. It's usually Merry Christmas, Happy Christmas, Cherry Mistmas, or Happy 'whatever you are celebrating' if it's not Christmas.
When I was married, my father-in-law once said: "Fuck the minorities and all the happy holidays bullshit. It's Merry Christmas, god dammit!" It was during Christmas dinner and it made for a very awkward moment since I'm Turkish and I didn't grow up celebrating Christmas.
I say Merry Christmas because that's what I celebrate. I'm not offended by Happy Holidays, and I'm not offended by a complete lack of any December-related-salutation. I wouldn't be offended by somebody wishing me a Happy Something Else, though it's never happened, to be honest. Frankly, we're all on auto-pilot in these types of greetings/goodbyes and I am pretty sure I would respond "Thanks, you too!" to anything, not realizing until afterward that I basically agreed that I celebrate Hannukah/Kwanzaa/Whatever Else.
I just don't know why it's a big deal. If you don't celebrate the holiday that's been suggested, just smile and move on. I guess if it's coming from somebody who knows you and should know better, then maybe a gentle reminder is in order. But if it's the bag boy at the grocery store? Pfft. Leave him alone. Let him say what he wants to say, so long as he isn't trying to be a jerk, just get over it.
You know who's not on "Merry Christmas" autopilot? The people who don't celebrate Christmas.
I don't think she meant that we're all on "Merry Christmas" autopilot, so much as autopilot more generally -- in that most people just don't put that much thought into it and say whatever greeting feels the most familiar.
I think this phenomenon is true even in non-holiday contexts for anyone who has ever worked in any sort of customer service job. You just start inserting awkward greetings and phrases at random times where it doesn't necessarily make sense because it just gets so routine.
Totally agree with this, too