Merry? Christmas

I woke up this morning with “Merry Christmas” on my mind. I have said and written and read the words many times through the years. Lately, I have found myself wondering whether “merry” conveys enough meaning for the day we celebrate the birth of Jesus. I turned to the online Oxford Dictionaries to learn more about the word. While I will probably do some further research, here’s what I found:


Syllabification: (mer·ry)
Pronunciation: /ˈmerē/

adjective (merrier, merriest)

  • cheerful and lively: the narrow streets were dense with merry throngs of students; a merry grin
  • (of an occasion or season) characterized by festivity and rejoicing: he wished me a merry Christmas
  • British informal slightly and good-humoredly drunk: after the third bottle of beer he began to feel quite merry

Lion and lambLively works. It points to the life, the new life, the full and abundant life, that breaks into the world at Christmas.

Rejoicing works. The birth of Jesus brings great joy. Festivity? Christmas is a festival of the church. Festivity picks up on the dimensions of joy.

The third definition, not so much. It does bring the story of the first Pentecost to mind. It’s not completely out of the

Merry Christmas, wishing life and joy works. But I wonder if there might be other ways to express the greetings of the day and season that plumb more meanings and point to other dimensions:

  • Christmas blessings
  • Blessed Christmas
  • May the joy, hope, peace, and love of Christmas be yours
  • May justice roll at Christmas
  • Peaceful Christmas
  • Peace-filled Christmas
  • Hopeful Christmas
  • Hope-filled Christmas
  • Christmas grace
  • Grace-filled Christmas
  • Christmas memories
  • Remember at Christmas
  • Gracious Christmas
  • Healing Christmas
  • Expectant Christmas
  • May you know the comfort of Christmas
  • May you know the discomfort of Christmas
  • Faith-filled Christmas
  • Faithful Christmas
  • Holy Christmas
  • Happy Christmas

I will still use Merry Christmas, but I want to try to expand the greetings I share at Christmas. Brian Wren reminds us of the need to Bring many names, beautiful and good to express the wonder and mystery and majesty of God. We need something similar to capture the depth of Christmas’ meaning.

What words and images would you add?

See you along the Trail.


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