This morning I was at a regular monthly committee meeting with colleagues. At the end of the meeting we enjoyed a Christmas lunch of crusty rolls with cold cuts and a Bouche de Noel and squares for dessert. Oh, and eggnog and hot apple cider of course, kindly provided by the committee Chair!
Then came the moment that is also part of a truly Canadian Christmas in the work world; the moment of saying goodbye to people you won't see until after Christmas in a uniquely Canadian way. And no, it isn't, "Goodbye eh?"
It has become politically incorrect to mention the true name of the celebration. Instead, we all fall over our words in an effort to be inoffensive to anyone who might be offended at the word Christmas, and replace the words that want to pop out of our mouths quite naturally, "Merry Christmas;" with a suitably bland farewell, such as, "Happy holidays."
This is so unnatural, that when someone forgot themselves and shouted out, "Merry Christmas," to us on her way out of the door this morning, it was a great relief to shout the forbidden words back to her.
I was in Birmingham, England, in December a couple of years ago. There is a large multicultural population there, and in a similar effort not to offend anyone, a bureaucratic decision had been made to rename Christmas, a "Winter Festival." There was such a public outcry that the decision was reversed. The Muslim population joined in support of the change back, saying that they were not offended by Christmas at all. Imagine going to live in Israel and being offended at the mention of Hanukkah or Rosh Hashanah!
I wonder how and when this happened, this blending and "blanding" of the culture. I used to think that Canada prided itself on having a colourful cultural mosaic; but now it seem that we are so very frightened of offending; especially when it comes to anything Christian. The bright shades of difference are being blurred and dulled.
And now those schools that tell the children Christmas story are on the subversive edge. I don't even know if they are supposed to do this.
I wonder what will happen when those who think of these things realize that, "Happy holidays," actually means, "Happy holy days."
"Happy Holy Days," and, if you are brave enough, Merry Christmas!
2 Corinthians 3:17 (New International Version)
17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.