Merry at Christmas, and Proud

Originally published: 12/08/2003 The Toronto Star

Section: Opinion    Page: A22

Tis the season to be jolly. So the popular Christmas carol reminds us. That’s right, Christmas carol. Not holiday carol or seasonal song, but Christmas carol.

This world, it seems, has gone overboard with being politically correct. We are increasingly dominated by an inclination toward uniformity in thought and behaviour. And as such, we are stripped of the things that make us unique.

This phenomenon is now threatening the 2,000-year-old tradition and worldwide holiday that is Christmas.

Oh, it starts innocently enough with saying “Season’s Greetings” or “Happy Holidays” because you aren’t sure whether someone celebrates Christmas. But with each insistence from well-meaning friends, family members or colleagues that you try not to offend non-Christians, folks have become afraid to say “Merry Christmas.”

So, instead, it is “Season’s Greetings” or “Happy Holidays,” which sound fine, but lack the impact of a cheery “Merry Christmas.”

And why should “Merry Christmas” offend anyone? After all, even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, the calendar still says that Dec. 25 is Christmas Day and it should be merry no matter how you choose to spend it.

Political correctness has changed the way we speak and to a huge degree it has changed the way we think about each other and about ourselves.

On many levels this change needs to happen. But if we don’t stop to think about Christmas, the very word “Christmas” will disappear from our language, to be replaced by the words “holiday” or “seasonal.”

Instead of decorating your Christmas tree you will decorate your holiday or seasonal tree. Even Christmas Day could become Holiday Day or, worse, Seasonal Celebration Day.

Christmas cards have already felt the impact and are now holiday greeting cards. Try finding a Christmas card that actually says “Merry Christmas” instead of “Season’s Greetings” or “Happy Holidays.” Fine sentiments, but again lacking the impact of a cheerful “Merry Christmas” greeting.

And what of Frosty the Snowman, that jolly happy soul who came to life because he was made from magical Christmas snow? He might never exist because holiday or seasonal snow just doesn’t have the same magic.

And what of Santa Claus, that jolly old elf who symbolizes Christmas for millions of children? What would become of him? He would be a follicular regressed, melanin impoverished, anatomically compact, visually impaired oppressor. Now, who could love Santa Claus after that description?

And what of Christmas morning? Excited wide-eyed children would wake their parents with shouts of “Merry Seasonal Celebration Day” and run to the Holiday tree to unwrap their seasonal gifts, strewing Holiday wrapping all over the living room.

Next, they would race to their Holiday stockings and dump out the contents, revealing more Seasonal gifts and treats. The radio would play Holiday carols all day and the Seasonal Celebration Day dinner would be complete with friends, family, turkey and plum pudding. Please.

Yes, we all know that the birth of Christ is the real reason for the season, but many focus instead on the food, festivities and fun that is Christmas time. And yes, Christmas has become more commercial and materialistic than we would like, but whatever it looks like for you and your family, it is still Christmas.

The celebration of Christmas should not detract from other celebrations in December. Rather, it should enhance them and provide opportunities for those so inclined to experience another culture.

Check out the other cultural celebrations such as Kwanzaa, the African holiday celebrating family, community and culture that is celebrated worldwide from Dec. 26 through to Jan. 1. Kwanzaa’s origins are in the first harvest celebrations of Africa from which it gets its name.

There is also Chanukah, the Jewish celebration of lights from December 20 through 28.

Enjoy these celebrations, but remember that Kwanzaa and Chanukah are not the reason for the season or the day off work. Christmas is.

So please, keep political correctness away from my favourite holiday. And, in the words of another popular Christmas carol, “We wish you a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!”

Carol Brown is a member of the Star’s community editorial board.

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