We Wish You a Merry Christmas

Don't believe everything you read.  News media, trolls, and the politically correct police have been hard at work for the last few years trying to convince Canadians that saying Merry Christmas to someone else is offensive and should be eliminated from our vocabulary.  Interestingly, the ones who have heeded this nonsense the most are probably the Christians.  They truly don't want to be inconsiderate of others beliefs or to appear to be forcing their own religious beliefs onto another so they have become hyper conscious about whom they share that greeting with.  Meanwhile the media, the trolls, and the politically correct police flood us with their instructions.

The rebel in me gets obstinate when someone tries to force me to obey their instructions, especially when the instructions are so lop-sided and devoid of the love and generosity that Christmas represents to the Christian community.  There is something about Christmas that still speaks to the greater Canadian community, regardless of religious beliefs.  Even the media, the trolls, and the politically correct police get in on the love and generosity piece by collecting for and giving to charities in the name of Christmas.  They talk about how Christmas can be a hard time and they encourage us to give extra to those in need.  Well to be really blunt and definitely not politically correct - if you don't believe in Christmas, or have some yearning to experience the spirit of Christmas, then Christmas isn't any harder than the day before or the day after.

The Sikh community in Saskatoon put out a sign in 2015 with Merry Christmas on it because they wanted to honour the spirit of Christmas.  In 2016, CBC reported on the Regina Sikh community following suit. They interviewed Kuldip Singh Sahota and I laughed when I read the article. Sahota has a sense of humour combined with grace and wisdom.  He points out, there is no reason in Canada to say Season's Greetings in December.  It's too damn cold and our heating bills are high.  What's there to greet or celebrate?  Sahota seized his chance with CBC to draw attention to the concepts of peace and goodwill.  Is there anyone in the world who would dispute that we need more of those two elements?

This year, as I did the last of the gift and grocery shopping, I was very careful not to say Merry Christmas to the store employees.  I had read and been indoctrinated into the idea that if I did it would somehow offend someone.  I found it ironic that after every exchange I made, the store clerk offered me the Merry Christmas greeting.  Then I felt free to bless them with a Merry Christmas too.  It made me a bit sad.  Had there been a huge revival of Christianity and every store clerk I encountered was a Christian determined to proselytize?  Or were Canadians of a variety of races and religions okay with the greeting and with honouring the spirit of it? I realized it was the latter.

Honouring the spirit of something does not mean you have to believe every bit of dogma that goes with it.  Being compassionate, inclusive, and diverse does not mean silencing the blessing of a Merry Christmas greeting.  It means spreading it further and more often; spreading the love, hope, peace, and joy of Christmas in our kindness and our words.  Being politically correct and sensitive does not have to be an all or nothing equation.  I walked into my local Sobey's last week and nearly ran into a menorah that was taller than me.  I stopped for a moment to take it in.  Across the menorah were the words, Happy Hanukkah.  I didn't feel threatened or uneasy.  I wasn't offended. I wasn't instantly paranoid that my Sobey's was trying to convert me to Judaism.  The truth lay in everything opposite to all that nonsense. I was reassured that we can live together in harmony, we can extend our special greetings to one another from our faith perspectives; we can make the world a better place by living out our faith(s).

If Merry Christmas works for you, and you are able to bless someone with that greeting, please do, whatever your faith.  If Happy Hanukkah works for you, please share that with me freely and without fear.  My fellow Christians, please don't engage in the stupidity of social media where you are encouraged by angry fundamentalists to proclaim Merry Christmas as a rallying cry. It isn't a call to war, it is a blessing.  Use the greeting as a blessing to spread a little kindness from person to person in a world that is groaning for peace and hope.  To paraphrase Mr. Sahota, if you say Merry Christmas to someone, let it be a "pouring out of your compassion, your love, your respect."