Sunday, November 15, 2009

We Say Merry Christmas

My last article for the Kansas City Star.

I’m confused. When did it become so wrong to say, “Merry Christmas”? Why has the fear of offending someone become foremost in our standard holiday greeting? I, for one, am more determined than ever to say “Merry Christmas” over “Happy Holidays” to a friend, stranger or customer in my store.

Being a retailer during the Christmas season is a daunting task. Not only do you have to put your personal faith in check (because, heaven forbid, you might offend a paying customers by mentioning the “Christ” word), but when you set off to plan your fourth quarter business, the variety of items to purchase makes you second guess the reason for the season.

When I opened my store in 2000, I remember taking a stand that I would never sell anything Santa Claus. Now, how stupid was that as a retailer? Although I was trying to make a loud and clear statement about my faith, it was also just bad business to not have a Santa or two for sale in the store. Little did I know that as I went to market to buy inventory, my desire to showcase Mary and Joseph over jolly St. Nick was shot down by aisles, floors and showrooms of the latter. When did we forget how we received this holiday in the first place? I blame manufacturers nowadays for caving to the easier and more politically correct Christmas icon, but are they only doing what we have demanded? I believe they are missing the mark.

Every year, I buy Christmas merchandise and design my store around many themes for the season. When I started to discover lovely, antique reproduction santos depicting religious Madonnas, angels and saints, I knew it was time to stop hiding the reason for the season. For four years now, the staff and I proudly design, display and sell from a large religious assortment of crosses, nativities and Christ-centered items. And guess what? They sell. They sell so well that many customers make a point to thank us for acknowledging the Christ in Christmas. It seems decorating with the baby Jesus (and Mary and Joseph and the others from that most famous birth) was what my customers wanted. They, too, were tired of hiding behind their beliefs and being bombarded with the jolly red suit.

Besides the typical red and green, using the regal colors of royalty is perfect for Christmas decorating. Fresh evergreens combined with dark coppers, burgundy and deep purples can support a design around religious decor. I personally prefer an all white Christmas with the Holy Family center stage. The ethereal look of sparkling lights or candles, mercury ornaments and objects, glistening deer or stars all mix perfectly with the Holy Family. Nativities or religious icons come in all sizes now, so larger figures can be arranged on your mantel while smaller figurines can be hung from a tree or tied to a small wrapped package. Larger nativities look perfect placed inside an unused fireplace. Scatter some straw and arrange the items accordingly, creating your own creche. Medium crosses would also be lovely tied to the inside of your front door wreath.

On the other hand, finding the childlike joy in Christmas certainly takes us back to our younger days — waking at the crack of dawn, ripping open presents under a glistening tree — and makes the red and white Santa fit in perfectly. But let us also remember the quiet calm of Christmas Eve, when we walk into our local church, hear the wonderful Christmas hymns and the message of how this holiday came to be. What a perfect gift. Hallelujah, indeed.

Reach Debbie Dusenberry, owner of the Curious Sofa, 3925 W. 69th Terrace, Prairie Village, at

Posted on Sat, Nov. 14, 2009 10:15 PM See here.