(originally posted 12/26/2021)
Today is a rough day for the word merry. Now that Christmas is over it will be a long time until it is used again with any frequency. It’s just not a popular way to describe feeling cheerful or lively these days. Which is why merry sees red whenever it hears someone say “Happy Holidays.” It causes even more friction between the words merry and happy. Which is uncomfortable given they tend to run in the same crowd. You can almost hear merry saying to happy “You have New Year’s, birthdays and anniversaries… isn’t that enough for you? Is it ever enough for you?”
I would suggest to merry that things can always change and point to the example of the word gay. For a long time gay lived in the shadow of happy but when it became synonymous with homosexuality it had a resurgence.
Now gay is said at least as many times a day as happy.
Unfortunately I’d have to also advise merry that if it thinks it can follow in gay’s footsteps and jump in as another word for lesbian that it might be in for a bit of letdown. Homosexual men are definitely gay but the truth is that the majority of the lesbians I’ve run into are the furthest thing from merry.
It would be a tough sell to get folks associating the two.
Plus, with all the bad blood between merry and happy the last thing that it needs is to start a feud with butch.
So have a little sympathy today for the word merry. Maybe even try to work it into a few conversations for ol’ times’ sake.
I’ll go first;
Beauty makes idiots sad and wise men merry.
-George Jean Nathan