It is just so easy to offend people these days, isn’t it? On our Facebook page the other day, one of our staff wished everyone Happy Holidays. The poor dear didn’t know what they were doing! Immediately, post after post reminded her in the most definite manner that the proper phrase is Merry Christmas. According to one poster, that is how it is done in Kemptville! So there!
Let me nail my colours to the mast, as they say, before I get nailed there instead. I am a Christian (that should offend some people right off the bat), and I always emphasise the Christmas aspect of this season. I recognise, as a professional historian, that, historically, this is the main point of the season, and the birth of Jesus is the “reason for the season”. To top off that particular old saying, let me add the one that states: “Wise men still seek Him”. The date may have been borrowed from an older festival, but its focus for the last two thousand years has been on the birth of Jesus.
However, it is also a holiday season, if only on Christmas Day and New Years Day for some. So, wishing everyone Happy Holidays is hardly an insulting thing to say, is it? If people don’t want to acknowledge the fact that Christmas is a Christian celebration, that’s fine. Pretending isn’t always dangerous to one’s mental health. Of course, when it reaches the rather insane stage where people complain that nativity scenes and prayer should be banned from a Christian celebration, it does veer towards the paranoid or even psychotic.
After all, the same people are usually the ones who demand toleration and respect for every other ideology, religious belief, or political affiliation. Christians are possibly a minority group these days, outnumbered by the nominal, watered-down kind, or, even worse, the compromised and deeply confused type one finds supporting the current American President.
Where was I? Oh, right: which is the proper salutation for this time of year. Fact: it is Christmas, and wanting people to be merry and happy is not a negative thing. Fact: it is a national holiday, and wishing people to be happy at this time of year is also not a negative thing. So, depending on your preference, you can use one, or other, or both of these greetings without giving offense. In a rational world, anyway.
But, in this fallen, sad and broken world of ours, let me give the last word to André Chagnon, a local resident. He has posted on that infamous Facebook entry what I consider to be a magnificent salutation: one which expresses so well the current, rather excited, state of mind of the average Canadian. After all, we must be fair, universally tolerant, non-judgmental, open-minded, and so many other things that make our heads spin. Over to you, André:
“Please accept my non-denominational holiday wishes with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all. I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2019, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make Canada great. Not to imply that Canada is necessarily greater than any other country. Also, this wish is made without regard to the race, creed, colour, age, physical ability, religious faith, gender or sexual preference of the wish.”
To which, I can only add: Amen.