You may have heard of people having a sensitivity to nuts...or shellfish...or dairy. But, lately, it seems a lot of people are showing symptoms of a sensitivity to Christmas.
This morning, Rich was loudly (is there any other volume when it comes to Rich?) bemoaning the fact that Santas in some Australian shopping centers have been forbidden to say “Ho, Ho, Ho”. He speculated that it was due to someone thinking it was offensive to women, as in Ho = Whore, I guess…although that seemed like a stretch to me. The site news.com.au claims the ban stems from a desire to make sure kids are not frightened by the traditional bellowing of “Ho Ho Ho” (think scary Santa in A Christmas Story).
A few minutes later, Melissa informed me that Lowes has banned their employees from saying “Merry Christmas” to customers. And, they are calling the Christmas trees they sell, “Family Trees”. She also informed me that children are no longer allowed to sing Christmas songs in school; even secular ones like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. I’m not sure if this is true of all public schools all over the country, but she used to be a school teacher, so I feel I can take her word on this one.
Now, I am the first one to promote inclusive language and behavior, but these things sadden me.
I have been playing Christmas music at work for the past week. I have loaded up my Netflix queue with every imaginable Christmas movie. I saw a building lit up with Christmas lights this past week and audibly squealed with delight. I am a certifiable closet Christmas junkie. Which, I’ll admit, is somewhat strange considering my non-religious beliefs and attitudes. And yet, my Christmas enthusiasm is not completely rooted in the commercialism of the season. Granted, I enjoy hearing Christmas music played in the stores and browsing through all of the Christmas paraphernalia . And I have been known to display fits of glee over Christmas decorations – both tasteful and gaudy (often, the gaudier, the better!). And I take great delight in picking out, wrapping, and giving gifts to my family and friends.
But, really, the thing that puts the sparkle in my eye, the thing that gets me going, is the spirit of the season, the magic of the season, which transcends any particular religious beliefs…and all that encompasses. Forgiveness and graciousness and gratefulness…and tolerance. Ahem…I’ll say it again…tolerance.
Tolerance means not being offended if someone says “Merry Christmas” to you. Or “Happy Hannukah”. Or “Happy Holidays”. They aren’t saying it to be an insensitive asshole. They are saying it in an all too uncommon gesture of mutual goodwill that sadly only comes around once a year. So instead of ruffling your feathers and harrumphing because you aren’t Christian or Jewish…or because you ARE Christian or Jewish, just smile and return the greeting and allow yourself, for just a moment, to be part of a seasonal movement of peace and tolerance.
If it disturbs you that children are singing about a red-nosed reindeer, stop and think and perhaps ask the child herself if SHE feels offended to be forced into singing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. The message of the storyof Rudolph is not an evil one, trust me. Tolerance. If you don’t want to call an evergreen that is decorated with lights and ornaments a “Christmas” tree, then don’t, no one can make you. But, that’s what it is. That is the definition of a Christmas Tree. And I’m guessing that anyone who genuinely doesn’t want a Christmas Tree, isn’t going to want something called a “Family Tree” instead. Does this mean we will have to start calling a Menorah a “Family Candelabra”? It is what it is.
We have all become so terribly and absurdly sensitive. I would humbly suggest that we all embrace the spirit of Christmas (religious or non, in the end I don’t think it matters) and let go of our indignant sensitivities and our intolerances and our prejudices. After all, that’s what Christmas CAN be all about…if we let it.