My Facebook feed has been taken over by “War on Christmas” posts. Apparently, some people believe there is a movement afoot by unidentified forces to abolish Christmas. I don’t really understand what this “war” means exactly, but from what I can gather from these missives, Christmas is under attack and the only defense is to say “Merry Christmas” three times while tapping your boots together. I think. It’s really not that clear.)
My cold medication is making me envision what a war on Christmas would actually entail:
1. Someone wishes you “Happy Holidays”.
2. Get irrationally upset at the audacity of that retail clerk who failed to assume you’re a Christian.
3. Go online to find a photo of Santa or Jesus (or Santa with Jesus!). Use your Photoshop skills to affix a rallying cry of “It’s not Happy Holidays it’s Merry Christmas! Share if you agree!” over the photo. Tip: Use large fonts and numerous explanation marks to really show the world how angry you are. OR find another person’s post and share it.
4. Put on your flak helmet and celebrate the birth of baby Santa in your home/bunker. Come out in time for the inevitable “War on Easter”.
This “war on Christmas” nonsense confuses me because JUST TAKE A LOOK AROUND YOU. Christmas is freaking EVERYWHERE! If there is indeed a war, the other side is losing. Big time.
I can’t walk into a store without being assaulted with Christmas carols blasting over the PA system. And it’s the same songs over and over. (How about adding “Back Door Santa” to the mix?) There’s even a radio station that has gone full-on Christmas. (I feel so sorry for those deejays.) And every artist you can think of has put out a Christmas album, even Bob Dylan. Bob! Effing! Dylan! put out a Christmas album. (I think it’s a Christmas album. I can’t understand a word that comes out of that man’s mouth, but the CD cover says it’s a Christmas album, so I’ll leave it at that.)
And there are Christmas trees everywhere. EVERYWHERE. There’s one in my condo lobby. There’s one at my office. There’s one outside of City Hall. I’m pretty sure one has somehow made its way up my arse (which would maybe explain my prickly mood). And lights! Pretty, blinking lights, strung up everywhere, sucking up electricity.
I miss my favourite TV shows. They all go on hiatus and are replaced with Christmas specials. After repeated viewings (and a few glasses of wine) they all kind of blend into one another – a snowman comes alive and is visited by three ghosts who arrive on a sleigh led by a red-nosed reindeer, pah-rum-pah-pah-pah.
And then there’s this: NO ONE IS PREVENTING YOU FROM CELEBRATING CHRISTMAS.
You can chop down a tree, drag its corpse into your home and festoon it with garish trinkets and silver tassels. You can plop a nativity scene on your front lawn with a big old baby Jesus smack dab in the middle of it. You can also go to mass and celebrate the birth of your Christ, singing hallelujah at the top of your lungs.
You can choose from hundreds of cards that say “Merry Christmas” to send to all your friends and family. (And here’s another friendly tip: Get some cards that are blank inside and write “Merry Christmas” many times, in different typefaces, colours…even glitter! Or, better yet, buy a card where you can record your voice, so when the recipient of said card opens it up you can scare them into a heart attack with a loud and proud “MERRY CHRISTMAS!”)
“Happy Holidays” has become de rigueur this time of year. Because of the great cultural mosaic that is Toronto, there are many Canadians who do not tick the box next to Christian on their census sheets. That’s how it is. You cannot bemoan that fact while you order Ethiopian food and buy chicken tikka masala at your grocery store. You do not get to take advantage of the multicultural smörgåsbord that is Toronto without respecting the fact that some cultures do not celebrate the birth of baby Jesus.
“Happy Holidays” is not a bad thing to say. It is all-inclusive, welcoming of all cultures and traditions. “Happy Holidays” can mean “Merry Christmas”, “Happy Hannukah” or “Happy Kwanza”. It can also mean “Happy New Year”, “Happy Boxing Day” or “Happy Winter Solstice”. (For atheists, it could mean “Happy Nationally Mandated Days Off!”) It’s very Canadian.
So why does it matter so much to some people? I could offer a lengthy discourse on possible xenophobia and nationalism, but I lack the energy or mental capacity to do so right now. Instead, I’ll just go and stare at all the pretty lights.