It is a sign of the times as well as the multiplicity of our cultural and religious composition that even an innocuous slogan as “Merry Christmas” is being met with controversy. Those among us who are of the Christian faith are being coerced into reconsidering whether or not to live the joy of the season out loud. Christians are being made to feel that they should be careful not to offend the sensibilities of those who are of other faiths. More and more we hear the greeting, ‘Happy Holidays’, instead of Merry Christmas. In the not too distant past, Toronto’s city councillors even debated whether to call the Christmas tree a ‘holiday’ tree.
And, a recent Simon Fraser study has concluded that “people who do not celebrate Christmas feel like they don’t belong and it harms their emotional well-being” when faced with “Christmas displays that are almost everywhere”.
The researchers responsible for the study, who claim to be Christians themselves, go on to say that “we as a society, could go a long way toward addressing this challenge by simply toning down the presence of Christmas displays”.
We think this kind of political correctness has gone too far. No other religion or culture is being asked or expected – nor should they be – to downplay their religious or cultural celebrations to suit our sensibilities. Ask people of other faiths if they have a problem with Christmas and most would respond with a resounding ‘no’. It is mostly our spineless leaders (God help us) in government, in the public schools and in the public sector who seem to be ashamed of openly celebrating Christmas; ashamed, it would seem, of openly honouring Our Lord Jesus Christ, the reason for the season.
We have no problem with accommodating other faiths and cultures. This acceptance of others is one of the blessings we share as Canadians. It should not mean, however, that we have to hide our Christian light ‘under a bushel’ in order to make others feel accepted.
Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, the central figure of Christianity. But, apart from all else that His birth means to us as Christians, the Spirit of Christmas itself is about the joy of sharing and giving just as God shared His love for us through Christ. And, people of various faiths and religious conviction, even those who have neither faith nor conviction, can enjoy without compromise the energy, the love, the sense of brotherhood that the Christmas season engenders.
Christmas is a time, unlike any other, when the generosity of spirit of our fellow Canadians, Christians and non-Christians alike, seem to know no bounds. Note the mountains of toys being donated for those less fortunate; the money being raised to help provide at least a warm meal on Christmas Day; even the pleasantness of complete strangers.
The spirit of Christmas is one of sharing with our fellow human beings, not about trying to force our religion on others; it is about the joy that Christians feel and share (or should) when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.
In that same spirit, we wish a Merry Christmas to everyone who has made the time each week during this, our 32nd year, to stay connected to our community through Share, both in print and online. We appreciate your comments, letters and support in response to the many important issues we have addressed and encourage you to continue on this journey with us.
We also wish the best of the Christmas season to the staff and friends of Share and to all our advertisers without whom this work would not be possible, and urge you to continue to support them.
May we all experience the joy and meaning of Christmas, the kindnesses that we extend to each other, and the fellowship of the Spirit that is most evident at this time of year. And, may we not be blinded by differences but be united in the beauty of the message that accompanied the birth of Jesus Christ.