Ho Ho Ho.
I racked my mind for about an hour, and that's about the safest greeting I could discern. The Rule, as has stood for years, is "No specific mention of any proper festival, without mention of all such festivals." Rule 1-B is similar - "At minimum, one must mention the possibility of no festival, or of any Higher Power that causeth any potential festival."
White European Male that I am, I'm inclined toward "Merry Christmas." I can't think of any other reason to shop amid mad throngs of a size to make Cecil B DeMille envious. Nor would I so cheerfully drive to southern Florida to visit my mother, brother, and sister for less reason - any other time of the year, I'd postpone the trip if I couldn't fly. (Why not? Let someone else serve me soft drinks, while I drowse in a comfort-like setting and freeload on the in-flight with the headphones from my CD player.)
Nevertheless, I gladly extend Hanukkah wishes at the proper occasion, the moreso since I have Jewish cousins. I usually spend Christmastime with them and my aunt, but this year is a special exception. I haven't been "home for Christmas" in a month of Sundays, and, again, I like to be able to say so without punch-bowl-sized helpings of Silent Disapproval.
Think about it - what if people objected to "month of Sundays" the way they do "Merry Christmas"? Would you like to waste your time fumbling for a generic alternative?
"It's been a month of Sundays - or a dog's age, whichever you believe is truly long."
"I don't believe in Sundays and I own four cats."
"Oh." [ahem] "Well, it's been a long time."
"Really?" [sniff] "I hadn't noticed."
If we ever get that knicker-twisted, then all bets are off. Happy December.
UPDATE - if you're curious, stop back after the New Year. I plan on posting current photos of the clan, and accounts of our a-wassailing.
ITEM - nifty! I got quoted in the Corner! (Happy December to Me.) It reminds me to put an Official Link to the Cornery Goodness in the Hive's permanent collection, on your left. (I make regular visits there and subscribe to the Dead Tree Edition, so it's past time to correct this oversight, and apologize.)
ITEM - every time I think I've punted on the football, they keep roughing my kicker. I've been keeping a running tally for the "400/3/L Club" - quarterbacks throwing for at least 400 yards and three touchdowns in a loss. Well, yesterday Tennessee's Billy Volek became this year's first repeat member: 40-60, 492 yards, 4 TD, only 1 INT. He was sacked for a safety at the very end of his team's 40-35 loss to Oakland.
RELATED ITEM - ESPN.com is a neat place, but for simplicity's sake, I link to the Sports Guy, who is about the best thing going for them (if it isn't Tim Keown, already amply-hyped in this space. He's a regular Tuesday thing, although I'd wish he'd ignore the growing trend for sports reporters to toss political observations. He called Robert Novak arrogant today, for no apparent reason than to signal to half his audience that he is Right-Thinking. I don't care if I'm in that half, sir; I simply don't need or care to know.)