We are just over the half way point of November. The Toronto Santa Claus Parade is now history for 2014. The Toronto Santa Claus parade signals the beginning of the Christmas season. It has also brought with it the "This year I'm going to say Merry Christmas" hysteria.
I would like to start by stating what those closest to me already know. I do not consider myself to be a "Christian", although I do cling to their less religious traditions. I would probably say that my views and beliefs about religion are more like my Canadian heritage on my father's side. I believe in a whole mixture of things, things that make sense to me, and like the strong and varied roots of my ancestors, make me stronger in this Canadian climate. My belief system incorporates many of the beliefs of many different religions. I believe in a good and loving God. I believe that the good or bad that we put into the universe comes back to us. I feel like we should do unto others as we would have them do unto us, actually with the exception of the part of coveting a neighbour's ox or ass, most of the ten commandments. Having said that, I also would like to say, that I really don't care what anyone else believes or who they worship. I don't judge you by who you worship, or who you love, but rather by how you treat me and others. I guess I practice the religion of love, of kindness, of tolerance.
I have stated all of the above personal information because this is the time of year where we are flooded with the message "I'm going to say Merry Christmas". This makes me angry, and not for the reason that you are probably thinking. To me this feels like racism, the incitement of hatred. Have you ever said "Merry Christmas" to a non-Christian and had them turn to you with anger and ask you to not say that to them? Me neither. As a matter of fact we are good friends with an Indian family who are not Christian, but they send out Christmas cards and buy Christmas gifts for their Christian friends.
It almost feels like the 1930's when the whispers were about how the Jews were causing all of the harm in the world. The Jews controlled the economy, they had to be stopped. It was an excuse to persecute.
Our neighbour's to the South are a "melting pot". People from many nations come to the United States and shed their old nationalities (so to speak) and become American. Here in Canada we have always prided ourselves that we are "a cultural mosaic". People from many nations come to Canada and they can keep their beliefs, their customs, and make those differences make Canada better. That is what we were always taught in school anyway. I feel like we have become to sensitive. We embrace all religions, but feel like Christianity is being persecuted. Why can't we just embrace everyone?
Why can't we have a Christmas tree? Why can't we wish each other Merry Christmas? For that matter why can't we wish our Jewish friends a Happy Chanukah? If you know a person's belief and they are celebrating something that is sacred to their religion you can wish them well. It is by celebrating and embracing our differences that we find acceptance, that we see that we are not so different, that we will loose our racism.
So I leave you with this.... this year I will say Merry Christmas, and not because I am making a statement, but because it makes me feel good. It makes me feel love for others. If I know that you celebrate Chanukah I will wish you a Happy Chanukah (that is after I have harassed you to find out everything I can about your religion. Just ask my Indian friend Jane, she'll confirm this). Please don't buy into the hate. Please don't wish people Merry Christmas to show your superiority, but because you really want to wish that person well, isn't that what it means?