Defending Christmas My Ass!
It’s only a few weeks to Christmas and preparations are well under way to celebrate the season. Homes are being decorated inside and out, stores are full of on sale gift suggestions, Christmas trees are being put up and at our place, the infamous Santa Claus collection is starting to occupy every available space in the house.
Even the dogs are required to wear Santa hats (Maggie is merciless at Christmas and we aren’t even there yet). There are twelve days of Christmas – or Christmastide as it used to be called – and they don’t start until Christmas Day.
I don’t mind even though it’s not the way my family practiced Christmas when I was a child. It’s become a tradition now though and the dogs wear their Santa hats with bemusement. I told them it could be worse, Maggie could have dressed them up as two of the wise men.
Traditions are wonderful things. They provide a foundation upon which we build our lives. They provide continuity from one year to the next and can be more than a little reassuring and satisfying but traditions change and evolve.
When we marry, we often blend our personal traditions with that of the person we married. When we move to another city, province or country, we sometimes adapt or add new traditions to our own. In other words, the only place our concept of what is traditional tends to be in our memories – not in our reality.
I remember growing up that the time leading up to Christmas was different than the rest of the year and it wasn’t just the lights and decorations, the shopping and gift wrapping. People’s attitudes seemed to change. There was more good will, more excitement and more laissez-faire. Of course, that is only how I remember it – it may not be how it actually was.
In recent years, it has become traditional for many to use that same pre-Christmas period to constantly harangue others for how they express a Christmas greeting.
Some say Merry Christmas, others Seasons Greetings or Happy Holidays. For whatever reasons, this has become a pointless starting point for an absurd level of acrimony which has very little to do with the spirit of Christmas.
It’s not like someone who wishes us Seasons Greetings muttered “Bah, Humbug!” They extended best wishes and why that should offend anyone, especially during what is supposed to be the season of joy and goodwill eludes me.
We live in a time when too many are too willing to be offended by something and ever-prepared to jump down someone’s throat to express their offense. I have no difficulty understanding why some people would prefer to express compliments of the season more generically; it’s just safer in this era of sanctimonious bullshit.
We saw a pointed example of that leading up to Remembrance Day here in Canada.
It is traditional to wear a poppy to honour those who died in war while serving this nation; a tradition that dates back to the First World War. Many in Canada make the effort to show their respect and do wear poppies distributed by The Royal Canadian Legion. Some choose to affix their poppies to their coats with the provided straight pin, others with a safety pin or a small Canada flag pin in the centre.
For some, it has become traditional now to rail and rant about those people who dare to use a Canada flag pin. It has been labeled by the disingenuous as unpatriotic and disrespectful.
Honestly, when I see what passes for adult discussion these days, I have to remind myself to breathe.
Are you kidding me? Is someone’s life so devoid of meaning, so spiritually and ethically bankrupt that they focus on a pin rather than the meaning of the poppy itself? Christ in Heaven! Instead of occupying their days with such banal triviality they should be celebrating the fact that more and more people are wearing the poppy.
And it’s the same with Christmas!
Nobody is preventing anyone from keeping Christmas in their own way and nobody is preventing anyone from celebrating their Christmas except those mean-spirited, petty-minded twits who are more prepared to be offended by the greeting than they are to share the meaning of Christmas.
They label others as ‘politically correct’ but they’re wrong. It isn’t someone who wishes you Happy Holidays that is being politically correct; it is those adolescent thinkers who dictate that there is only one correct way – their way – to celebrate the season and to express Christmas greetings.
Have we really become so small as a society that this is the best we can do?
Good Lord! It’s Christmas and some people want to argue with and criticize others because of how they express a greeting rather than appreciating the fact that someone extended that season’s compliment to them.
Many of the “put the Christ in Christmas’ folks haven’t seen the inside of a church in decades and usually don’t even acknowledge the Advent season; if they even know it exists. Nonetheless, they’ll mutter and sputter about how the politically correct are undermining our Christmas traditions.
Really? How? Which Christmas tradition; religious, secular? I saw a post the other day whining about the fact that the Canadian Christmas tradition was being undermined.
And just exactly what ‘Canadian’ tradition would that be? Yours? Mine? Catholic? Protestant? We all celebrate Christmas a little differently and not just from country to country but from family to family. My Christmas traditions are more than likely quite different from yours.
In some countries, St. Nicholas has become Santa Claus in a sleigh pulled by reindeer; in others SinterKlaus riding a white horse. He used to be a tiny old elf but was elevated to a jolly fat guy by Coca-Cola. Even Jesus is presented differently by different cultures and there are white, black and Asian versions of the creche.The fact is that there are countless Christmas traditions both in Canada and around the world because nobody owns Christmas – it was a gift given to any who chose to accept and share it.
And sharing doesn’t mean getting your shorts in a knot simply because somebody wished you Season’s Greetings rather than saying Merry Christmas. That isn’t defending Christmas; that’s denigrating and demeaning its true meaning and spirit.
I suggest that everybody take a deep breath and consider the actual meaning of Christmas (and others like Remembrance Day). Perhaps if more people took their heads out of their asses to actually live the meanings of those important days rather than criticizing others for how they choose to live them, we might start advancing as civilized people again.
I doubt it will happen though. Too many of us are just too intent on being offended and then having the opportunity to express their sense of insult. In the end, it is they and not those they label as politically correct, who undermine the spirit and meaning behind Christmas, Remembrance Day and all the other days we commemorate.
When someone extends compliments of the season to me; no matter how they express it, I simply say thank you and wish them a Merry Christmas. Not surprisingly, neither of us is offended and for just that little moment, we both shared Christmas with each other in our own way and that always leaves me feeling a little better than I did.
I’ll take that tradition over the ongoing and adolescent argument on social media any day.
If I don’t see you before Christmas: Happy Holidays, Seasons Greetings and Merry Christmas to you and to your family.
© 2014 Maggie’s Bear
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