You’ve probably heard of this one by now, if not this year then any of the last ten: Christmas is under attack! And I for one am having trouble choosing sides, because I can’t decide whose position is more compelling. Do I ally myself with the devout Christians who get the vapours whenever someone wishes them a sectarian Happy Holiday?
Or should I instead join forces with the sensitive secularists who opt instead to pay due respect to those otherreligions that celebrate their tree-based holidays by engaging in a frenzy of consumerism in the days weeks leading up to December 25th? These, it appears, are our only choices in this war; “ignore this holiday and the accompanying propaganda entirely” isn’t on the table, which means that just like in a real war, the bulk of the casualties in this one are innocent civilians.
As a vegetarian infidel whose family never ever celebrated Christmas, it might seem that I’m predisposed to being more sympathetic to the hippie heathens, but damned if I wouldn’t rather listen to Mariah Carey’s Christmas album on repeat than be subjected to rallying cries like this one here:
“At Rideau Hall, we will be putting up a holiday tree as we find it reflects the traditions of many cultures, and it is inclusive,” Rideau Hall spokeswoman Lucie Brosseau said.
Jesus wept. Not the Christian Jesus, mind you – the other Jesus, the inclusive one who represents the traditions of many cultures.
I assure you that the “we” that finds the history of all traditions great and small to be reflected in the magical Holiday Tree does not include any real-life Jews, Hindus, or Muslims, regardless of what the persecuted Christians may have you believe. And that’s the really mind-numbing aspect of this: the unfounded assumption that people who don’t celebrate Christmas are in fact on board with these inane gestures to pretend that Christmas by another name is somehow a whole ‘nother holiday.
No, I would bet hard cash that the “we” that Brosseau references is a subset of earnestly sensitive, yet oh-so-ignorant semi-lapsed Christians who don’t believe in God or Jesus anymore, but who still celebrate Christmas because doesn’t everyone celebrate Christmas? I mean, some people may call Christmas something weird like “Chanukah” or “Diwali” or (God help us) “Ramadan”, but it’s basically the same thing, right?
This “we” are the ones who puzzle over whether to put up Christmastrees in deference to their more traditional families and neighbours, or whether they should instead put up more inclusive holiday trees; it never occurs to them that they don’t need to put up trees, period, and that in fact most people in the world – and some even in this very country – don’t. And that some of those people don’t think that the end of December is sacred in any way – or, at least, they don’t think it’s more sacred than other months.
These are the folks who think that nomenclature is the single thing standing between an intolerant Christian society and an enlightened, multicultural one. There’s not a practising Jew in this country, I promise, for whom the generic, inclusive holiday tree – not to be confused with the nigh-identical Christmas tree – brings to mind the story of the Maccabees’ triumph against the Greeks.
I assume that followers of religions that don’t even share part of a Bible with Christians aren’t going to be thinking inclusive, tree-inspired religious thoughts just because someone says they should. The holiday tree’s not a Jewish icon, and to pretend that it is – to tell a group of people who don’t adhere to your religion which icons are involved in theirs – that, in my view, is far more offensive than simply displaying bona-fide religious symbols in public.
And that’s what pisses me off the most about this war: not the idiotic assumption that saying Happy Holidays constitutes persecution of Christians, but rather the idiotic idea that a few function calls of Replace(”Merry Christmas”, “Happy Holidays”) somehow amount to a genuine understanding of, and respect for, cultural diversity.
So while I’m certainly an opponent of this war, I’m having trouble working up a whole lot of partisan rage over it. Because what do we have? – we have one side insisting that Christmas music and Christmas greetings be ubiquitous…and the other accepting the ubiquity of Christmas iconography and culture but changing a few words here and there; not even thinking about how we have Christmas Day as a statutory holiday rather than a floater – those non-Christians can use their own personal leave time to celebrate their little holidays, after all; and unironically making a point of mentioning Chanukah – the single least important Jewish holiday – whenever they mention Christmas. And both sides fancy themselves martyrs.
It’s almost enough to turn one into a pacifist.