I really hate to beat a dead horse, but the United States of America is a secular nation; meaning we have no official state religion. In case you’re confused, that’s a good thing. It means that you can’t be harassed if your religion doesn’t jibe with the state’s. You’re free to follow whatever beliefs you hold (or don’t hold, as the case may be), and nobody can tell you otherwise.
You absolutely can say “Merry Christmas”. Go ahead, say it right now. I’ll wait.
Did anybody break down your door to arrest you? Probably not (and if they did, it certainly wasn’t because of your choice of holiday greeting). You’re free to run down the streets shouting “Merry Christmas” as loud as you please, subject to your town’s noise ordinances. You can say it to your postman; you can say it to a cashier; you can say it to a police officer; you can say it to an atheist. You can say “Merry Christmas” all day, every day, and nobody can do a thing to stop you. That is one of your constitutionally guaranteed rights. I’m curious: who keeps telling people that they’re not allowed to say “Merry Christmas”?
I have a feeling I know who: the Right-Wing Noise Machine. See, ultra-right-wingers want you to believe that your rights are being stripped away whenever you’re forced to read “Happy Holidays” in a store window instead of “Merry Christmas”. They want you to believe that the dark forces of political correctness are closing in on your faith. But you know what? They’re wrong. If somebody tells you “Happy Holidays”, that doesn’t impinge on your rights…not even a little bit. You can respond back with a “Happy Holidays” – if you want to follow suit – or you can go ahead and break out a “Merry Christmas!” Nobody, and I mean nobody, is going to tell you otherwise. Know what else? If somebody does try to rebuke you for saying “Merry Christmas”, they’re wrong too! And you can ignore them, because it is in no way, shape, or form illegal or ill-advised to wish somebody a Merry Christmas (and a Happy New Year).
Now here’s the flip side of that coin. Just as other people shouldn’t tell you not to say “Merry Christmas”, you shouldn’t tell them not to say “Happy Holidays”, or “Season’s Greetings” or “Happy Kwanzaa”, or “Happy Hanukkah”. It’s their choice, just as it is yours. Personally, I’m glad to live in a nation where we have the freedom to wish somebody well in whatever words we choose. I wish everybody else would celebrate that freedom. I wish people wouldn’t get so bent out of shape because they don’t get the exact holiday greeting they wanted. And I wish people would stop with this paranoid fantasy about having their religious freedoms eroded away by the forces of political correctness. Just be happy already. It’s the holidays!