Dear Miss Manners,
At this time of year I try to be respectful of the diversity of the people I may meet by wishing them, "Happy holidays." I like to think this neither assumes what they may celebrate nor imposes upon them what I may celebrate, but still manages to convey my good wishes towards them.
However, I have recently begun to think this may not be entirely appropriate - after all, some people may not celebrate anything at all this time of year, and I would not want to inadvertently offend them. I also think it might be even more respectful to show some interest in offering more than just a generic farewell. Do you think it would be appropriate to first ask, "Do you celebrate a particular holiday this time of year?" I could then tailor my farewell to their response, from "Merry Christmas," to "Happy Hannukah," to simply, "Have a lovely day." I want to find a balance between being festive and friendly without appearing unduly personal or rude.
Thank you so much.