Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Secular Holiday!

My blog has been sleeping for a while, but it’s time to wake it up. As busy as life can be, I’m going to try to keep to some kind of blogging schedule, so let’s see how it goes...

MERRY CHRISTMAS, everyone!  I hope you’ve enjoyed the season so far and that you’ve been spending quality time with family and friends (and pets). My family has shared in loads of Christmas cheer with wonderful people. I am grateful that my snowbird parents came home from Florida for the holidays, that my brother and sister are close-by, as well as other relatives and good friends. This year I’m particularly mindful of my blessings because I have a number of friends who are going through difficult times right now and the festive atmosphere is not necessarily helping them feel any better.  However, I hope that Christmas will still bring comfort despite the commercialism and superficiality surrounding the season.

As you may have noticed, there is a strong movement towards eradicating the word “Christmas” from the public realm.  For the sake of political correctness “Merry Christmas” has been replaced by ‘Happy Holidays,’ Christmas trees replaced by ‘holiday’ trees (sometimes banished altogether), and Christmas parties have become ‘holiday’ parties. The Christmas traditions that so many people cherish have been relegated to private homes and private Christian schools. It seems that ‘Christmas’ has become a bad, bad word.

I take issue with this for many reasons. Notwithstanding our beliefs, the holidays and festivities at this time of year all take root in the Nativity story, a story that celebrates the birth of Christ. Whether we take it literally or not, this time of year is meant to be a joyous, yet reflective time, where we consider the transformational power of a new beginning. Over the centuries, Christmas has been embellished with many festive traditions like trees with lights and decorations (borrowed from pagan practices), Santa Claus, Christmas songs, presents, and lots of good food. But at the heart of these customs is the spreading of peace, joy, and love, evoked by the story of the birth of Jesus. Whether we are believers or not, this message is at the core of what these holidays are all about. Why try to hide its historical origin by changing the title? People of all faiths are invited to join in, as I would hope they would invite others to join in their celebrations. To me, this is what it means to be inclusive.

Recently, I heard a CBC radio interview on the topic of language used in Federal government offices. It seems that if you are a federal government employee you can no longer say, “Bless you” when someone sneezes or “Oh my God!” when you are surprised by something. “Merry Christmas” is an absolute no, no. If you do say these banished phrases, the federal word police will give you a warning. I’m not sure what the consequences are for repeat offenders. When the interviewer asked the federal representative, who was emphatic in her views, what people should say instead, this was her response:  When someone sneezes, you should say, “I heard that!” to acknowledge the fact that they sneezed. As for OMG, you should say, “Wow!” as an alternative. Aren’t you glad that your tax dollars are being used for such important matters?

A few minutes ago, as I was writing this, a friend of my teenage son, who had stayed for the night, came into the kitchen to say good-bye. “Merry Christmas, Spencer!” I said. He said Merry Christmas back and then laughed and said, “I mean, Merry secular holiday!”

So, to avoid being reprimanded for using the offending word on a public site, I wish you all a merry holiday while celebrating with your family and friends, and that you enjoy your holiday meals, holiday gatherings, holiday decorations, holiday music, and holiday cheer! 

1 comment:

  1. Nice to see you back blogging Carla - I hope I can get more regular as well - I am hoping to post something tonight if I get a few minutes.

    Allow me a moment of Political Incorrectness...Merry Christmas to you and your family! Cheers my friend! xo