Merry Christmas

December 23, 2012

Merry Christmas. Two words heard but during one, short season a year. Two words that can invoke so many different feelings and sentiments. Two words that many present day governments tell us we should replace with ‘Happy Holidays’ or ‘Seasons Greetings’ so as not to offend those that don’t celebrate Christmas.

When I was a teenager I worked part time at a local pharmacy after school and on weekends. Christmas was a particularly busy time of year and as I checked out each customer I always wished them a Merry Christmas. This was totally acceptable behaviour of the time. We didn’t have our governments telling us it was inappropriate. And yet one day, all on my own, it struck me that many of my customers didn’t celebrate Christmas, and I certainly didn’t want to offend anyone. So I started wishing all the customers as they passed through the doors either Season’s Greetings, or Happy Holidays. To those that wished me a Merry Christmas up front, I wished them a Merry Christmas in return. I was 17 years old and without ever having been told, I took it upon myself to switch up my Christmas greetings. I didn’t need the government to tell me to do so. To me it just seemed like the courteous and respectful thing to do.

Fast forward many years, and then all of a sudden governments and various businesses are telling us it is inappropriate and possibly offensive to wish strangers a Merry Christmas. That we must be more inclusive and consider the feelings of all. Children no longer celebrate ‘Christmas’ in school. Instead they celebrate various holidays of others from all over the world. I am all for inclusivity and being sensitive to others. I embrace it. I think it is wonderful and right to celebrate and acknowledge each other’s beliefs. But what I do find offensive is telling me it’s wrong to wish someone a Merry Christmas, or to make me feel bad in doing so.

The meaning of Christmas and how one celebrates it varies from person to person. To some it is all about the birth of Jesus. To others it is all about the presents and toys, bought at a frenzied pace, wrapped in pretty paper and placed under a brightly decorated Christmas tree. Some welcome it as a time to get to together with family and friends, share in a feast and reflect on happy times spent over the years. To some it is about all or some of the above.

For me Christmas is about peace and goodwill. About getting together with my family and sharing a meal; exchanging a few presents – more tokens of remembrance and putting a smile on someone’s face, as opposed to anything big or extravagant. It’s about sharing and love. And as my family and I approach the first Christmas since Dad died, it will be a time of reflection and memories of happier times spent with him. Keeping traditions started with him going, even though he will no longer be sitting at the head of the table on Christmas Day.

So please, when I wish you a Merry Christmas, even if it is not of your belief, do not be offended. Take it in the spirit of which it is meant. The spirit of love, sharing and good will. And should you wish me a Happy Hanukah, Happy Kwanza, or some other holiday greeting native to you, I shall take it in the spirit it is meant and be so very glad to receive it.

Merry Christmas my friends. May all the blessings and joys of the Season be upon you all.


Barbara M © December 2012

Christmas tree-multi colour