December 20, 2002
As regularly as December 25th comes around,
each year we also get the stories about how someone tries to
This year the Canadian Mint quite properly
took it in the teeth for its "Twelve Days of Giving" coin
commercials, and then The Gap was forced to flip-flop on its edict
that its staff wish their shoppers a happy generic end of the year
As far as I'm concerned, it's only right
that companies be rapped across the snout for trying to cash in on
Christmas while at the same time ignoring it. An honest company
wouldn't have Christmas-like commercials, Muzak, sales, or make
their staff wear Santa hats if they're not willing to acknowledge
the "C-word" in public.
In its wisdom, the City of Toronto's
communications people tried to foist a "Holiday Tree" on
its citizens this year, until they too were driven back to take a
defensive position under the tinsel. I doubt they'd ever try to call
the Hanukkah menorah on the lawn of City Hall a "Festive
Candelabra". I just hope the irony of it requiring a Jewish
mayor to restore some sanity at Christmas wasn't lost on anyone.
I also get a bunch of generic
"holiday" cards wishing me "joy" or the
"best of the season", without acknowledging what season it
is. Sensitive invitations invite me to join them in celebrating
"this happy time of year".
It's too bad the culturally insecure don't
believe we're mature enough to appreciate each other's holidays
without feeling threatened. Respect and understanding can only come
out of acknowledgement and recognition. I can hope my neighbour had
a good Eid, and she can wish me a Merry Christmas, or vice versa,
and no one feels insulted. I've enjoyed moving Passover dinners,
Sikh festivals and sitting in Mosque without feeling they should
Of course, there is always someone like
David Ahenakew, former chief of the Assembly of First Nations, with
his recent ugly display of raw anti-Semitism to make us realize
tolerance and understanding still have a long way to come. (It also
always comes as a surprise to the lefties and our sandaled
sociologists that ignorant racism is hardly the sole preserve of
middle class white males.)
Still, it can't be easy feeling left out at
Christmas, and I understand how people from all backgrounds want to
share in some small part of it. As a holiday it has a lot going for
it. And you don't have to be a Christian to appreciate a desire for
"Peace on Earth, goodwill to men", especially in these
troubled times. But that doesn't mean we should neuter it, any more
than any other religion should change its traditions to make it more
To end with a true story, last week I took
my son for his first visit to have his picture taken on Santa's lap.
After the snap was taken and my son was pulled from his beard, the
merry old guy waved to us and said: "Happy Holidays".
"You mean, Merry Christmas, don't you
Santa?" I replied.
Imagine Santa being afraid to utter the word
To his credit, I saw my politically correct
Santa's cheeks get just a little bit rosier before he wished us a
I just hope I don't find a lump of coal in
my stocking Christmas morning.