There are lots of things I like about Christmas, as anyone who reads these December posts can tell. One thing in particular is the greeting, “Merry Christmas.” It’s the only time that I can think of that we wish other people to be merry and I like merriment.
We don’t usually wish people to be merry. We usually wish them to be happy. We say, “Happy birthday,” or, “Happy Thanksgiving,” or “Happy New Year.” It’s tempting to dismiss the distinction since they are synonyms. Only I don’t believe in synonyms. They really are different words with different meanings.
Happy is good. I do wish people to be happy. But happy lacks a little something that merry has. Happy has more to do with satisfaction and contentment. Merry has more to do with joy and fun. Merry is more exuberant than happy. It’s lively and exciting.
I’m going to start wishing people to be merry more often. We could all use more merriment in our lives. I’ll start wishing people a merry New Year and a merry birthday. I may get some funny looks, but ultimately, I think people will be happy to be merry.