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CONTEMPORARY COURTESIES

Courtesy, cheer key to season's greetings

Friday, December 20, 2013 - 12:57 pm

Q.: Karen, I hear people saying “Happy holidays” these days instead of “Merry Christmas” and it is very offensive to me. What's wrong with saying “Merry Christmas”? I feel like we have taken being politically correct to an extreme. My family celebrates Christmas, and that's what I am going to say.

A.: Wishing everyone “Happy holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” these days is becoming a sore spot with lots of people. All you need to do is look on social media to see how upset some people get over this issue.

I believe it is happening in an effort to be politically correct.

However, it's important not to take that to extremes. If you celebrate Christmas, then by all means, wish people “Merry Christmas.” If you are not Christian, then wish people “Happy holidays.”

The most important point is to wish people good cheer in a genuine way.

So, in the spirit of the season, here is some “holiday card/Christmas card” etiquette:

The holiday season is a time when many individuals and businesses send out greeting cards to friends, family members and clients. These cards can bring people on your list up to date on your family and company events over the past year. And this can be a way to express thanks and appreciation.

However there are some rules of etiquette that should be observed:

•Hand addressing adds a very personal touch.

•Use correct titles such as Mr. & Mrs. or Ms., etc.

•Add a salutation in your own handwriting, as well as a personal signature even if your cards have preprinted signatures.

•A personal line or two in your handwriting lets people know you took time to think specifically about them.

•Send “happy holiday” cards to people of non-Christian faiths.

•To cover all the bases in business, send “happy holiday” cards to your customers or clients.

•If you are sending e-cards, be sure they go to the people who use email regularly. Otherwise, a “real” card may be in order for those non-techies.

If a Christmas letter is part of your tradition keep in mind these suggestions when writing it:

•Keep the letter to one page.

•Be careful not to sound like a braggart. A line or two about each family member is enough.

•Don't talk about money – having it or not having it.

•Give general information. Serious information, such as illnesses and deaths, should be shared in another correspondence.

A yearly newsletter can chronicle your family events, but remember, your information is probably not as fascinating to others as it is to you. Less is more!

Karen Hickman is a local certified etiquette/protocol consultant and owner of Professional Courtesy. To submit questions, email features@news-sentinel.com.