Merry Christmas, Part II

The “Merry Christmas” thing just keeps ticking along. One response, via an old friend, included a copy of a statement made in the House of ┬áCommons by Nina Grewal, MP for Fleetwood-Port Kells, and reprinted in the National Post for December 20. You can read it among the comments to my last blog.

Her sentiments are very close to mine. I particularly appreciated this statement: “Political correctness is diluting Christmas in a well-intentioned but [unnecessary] attempt to be inclusive.” Yes, well-intentioned (by some at least) but unnecessary–although perhaps that is what it took to wake up a few of us to the erosion both of Canadian and Christian tradition. And perhaps even “diluting” isn’t a strong enough word for what has happened in many schools and stores, the staffs of which have been instructed not to say “Merry Christmas” to customers. In these cases it has gone beyond diluting to eliminating.

Two other thoughts have come to me. “Merry Christmas” is something you can say to a stranger. Would we say “Happy holidays!” to a stranger? I can’t account for the difference, but I feel it. For some time I have made it a practice to speak to strangers, if I can do it without weirding them out (am I not a harmless white-haired old guy, after all?). I do this because I have perceived the pernicious trend in our time to self-enclosure of the individual, or atomization of society. I see people retreating into their cocoons at home, and then walking around in a kind of portable cocoon. Part of my evidence for this is that people going through doors into public buildings very seldom look behind them to see if they could pass the door on to the person coming. I have had such doors slammed in my face more often than I would care to count. Don’t look behind you, because you might catch the eye of the person coming after you, and he/she might speak to you, may heaven forfend!

Second thought. The “happy holidays” are an indeterminate stretch of time. Does the phrase refer to anything more than time off work? Christmas, on the other hand, is a celebration, a season *and* a particular day. “Tomorrow will be Christmas,” goes the song; or “I’ll be home for Christmas; and many of the carols and gospel songs refer to Christmas Day: “Yea, Lord, we greet thee, born this happy morning ….,” or “Man [sic] shall live for evermore, because of Christmas Day.” It celebrates a birth, after all, and each of us is born on a particular day, which forever after is important to us.

Once again, if you will permit me: Merry Christmas!

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2 Responses to Merry Christmas, Part II

  1. jimhoustonjim says:

    I assume you know the story of the Honorable Totide Tidy-Tidy. Merry Christide, all twelve days thereof (and a partridge in a pear tree). jim

  2. Mary Aitken says:

    Another thought, Don. Most years I celebrate American Thanksgiving with my family in California. Without exception, everyone I meet greets or concludes with “Happy Thanksgiving”… always that to me, a complete stranger. Thanksgiving is the biggest, most travelled holiday in the American calendar. Maybe because it is unilaterally about giving thanks.

    A note from your editor: I am interested to note that “Happy Thanksgiving,” to my knowledge, neither in Canada nor the US, has ever generated the anti-religious response from some quarters to “Merry Christmas”–and this in spite of the fact that the name of the festival implies a giving of thanks to … well, originally, God [ :) ]. Why the difference, I wonder?
    DG

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