Monday, November 10, 2014

"Happy holidays" is not a war on Christmas

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Sigh. Every year, it’s the same argument.

The ol' 'why can’t I say merry Christmas?'

'You're in Canada, we say Christmas here.'

It drains my zen and makes me a bit ragey.

Like most things, it’s only a big deal to those who make it a big deal. I am Christian, I celebrate Christmas. In fact, I'm not sure anyone loves Christmas as much as I do. At least, not anyone over the age of seven.

I have yet to feel persecuted because we now encourage “Happy holidays”.

I understand it. I am aware that not everyone has the same life as me. There is a whole big wide world outside of my home and my life.

I am but a spec in the universe.

But I digress. 

With the advent of social media, I have to see meme after meme, some of which walk the line of spreading hate literature.

Even the mild ones display xenophobia, or at the very least, a lack of thought. 

So because I have to be exposed to those particular opinions, every freaking year, I am now going expose you to my humble opinion. 

Where do we get the idea that we can’t say 'Merry Christmas'? You can say 'Merry Christmas'. I am pretty certain that no one has ever told you that you will be shot on sight if you do. 

In fact I say 'Merry Christmas' all the time. 

And when I know that someone does not celebrate Christmas, the interaction is as follows:

Me to Jewish friend: 'Hey you! Happy Hanukkah!'
Jewish friend to me: 'Thanks! Merry Christmas!'

See? Easy peasy!

We both get to celebrate our own traditions while being respectful to each other. 

Saying 'Happy holidays' is not about taking away from Christmas, it’s about being inclusive to those who celebrate something else during the month of December, or perhaps celebrate nothing at all. 

It’s about being inclusive to your friends, your neighbors, your community and in some cases your family. 

And I know. I know. Your child’s 'Christmas' concert is now called a 'Holiday' concert. And your work 'Christmas' party is now called a 'Holiday' party. 


Because the world does not revolve around you, or your child. 

Employers, the school system and many other public entities, have simply demonstrated an understanding of the concept of 'knowing your audience'.  

Their audience is not made up of people who only celebrate Christmas. 

Therefore, their events do not revolve around people who only celebrate Christmas. 

Perhaps, school “Holiday” concerts should revolve around educational programming for the parents, because in my experience, it’s not the kids who have a problem with acceptance or empathy.

'If people come to our country, they should abide by our customs.'

I’m sorry, what? 

Are there people that are under the impression that Christmas originated in Canada?

The tradition of Christmas was brought to Canada by people who came from another country

You are from another country. Probably multiple ones. I don’t care if you were born in Canada, you have ancestors that were not. 

In fact, in some cases, there are people who do not celebrate Christmas that have been in Canada for more generations than you have.

 So let’s not go there.

Side educational note: Christmas is a multi-faith holiday, and, by many accounts, the birth of Jesus was not the first reason to celebrate on December 25th, it started as a Pagan celebration of winter solstice.

The 'war on Christmas' does not exist, except in your mind. It is still the most celebrated holiday in December. Probably of the year. You will still be bombarded with Christmas commercials, decorations, bad TV movies, angry shoppers, scary mall Santa’s and creepy Elf on the Shelf pictures.

I will still get to enjoy 30 days of said Christmas movies on the W Network. 

I will still decorate my house until it looks similar to what I imagine the North Pole to look like.

No one has told you that you cannot say, do or celebrate, what you like. There is no law. That's what is so great (or was so great) about Canada. It is simply polite to acknowledge that there are many, many people, some as Canadian as you are, that do not celebrate the same holidays as you.

Neighbors, co-workers, friends.

So why is it so hard to give one moment to be appreciative to someone who actually celebrates something else? Isn't that what the season is about?

The holiday season (whether you are celebrating Christmas, or Kwanzaa, or Hanukkah, or winter solstice, something else or a combination of any of the above) is about celebration-of the life and/or death of a God, of family values, of love, of forgiveness, of the earth and all that’s living on it, etc.,etc.,etc. 

I've educated myself on dozens of religions, and as far as I can tell, there are no cultural celebrations happening in December that encourage fear, hate or disrespect to your neighbor.In fact, there are none that encourage that ever.

People might, religions do not.

There are no cultural celebrations that say 'majority wins' or 'hate thy neighbor'.

I think perhaps we forget that sometimes. Ironically enough, we seem to forget it the most around the holiday season. 

So how about, instead of thinking about what we lose by being accepting of everyone, we think about what we gain.

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