Bah humbug to the war on Christmas

“So, bah humbug to the bickering over seasons greetings, Christmas trees and nativity scenes.”

In the interests of diversity and inclusion, society shies away from Christian manifestations of Christmas. Battles loom over nativity displays, the traditional “Merry Christmas” greeting and Christmas trees. There is, some argue, a war on Christmas. While some seek to eliminate anything that remotely resembles religious belief, others press to “remember the reason for the season” and to “keep Christ in Christmas”.

It would be more in the spirit of the season if both sides lightened up. A nativity display isn’t likely to spark a conversion anymore than participating in a Santa Claus parade constitutes apostasy. To wish someone “Merry Christmas” is an expression of goodwill, not an attempt to proselytize. And putting up a Christmas tree isn’t some subversive plot to promote Christianity; it’s a seasonal decoration.

During the Christmas season, adults would do well to become more like little children. For them there’s no conflict between the sacred and the profane, the natural and the supernatural. A baby in a manger or Santa Claus are equally a source of wonder. But in this hypersensitive culture of outrage, some get all twisted about the religious part of Christmas, arguing about its place in the celebration.

Because the story of the nativity is a religious one, sacred to Christians, it makes some uncomfortable. That doesn’t mean it’s time to throw the baby out with the bath water. Traditional expressions of Christmas that have informed celebrations in western culture for generations need not become anathema. The present time calls for a new way of seeing, for rediscovering some of the universal truths within a sacred story.

The nativity can be an encounter with those who are ‘other’. In today’s parlance, the baby and his parents could be refugees. The shepherds, who in Christian thought existed on the periphery of society, could be the marginalized. The magi could be foreigners with different skin tones, religions and customs. Different, yet similar, the cast of characters assembled in the stable share a longing for something more, a longing which at Christmastime frequently finds expression in commercialism.

The Christmas story speaks to shared humanity, inclusion and diversity. These are values that society rigorously promotes. Paradoxically, these same values would banish religious expression from all public places. But, diversity is not elimination, and inclusion is not exclusion.

Christmas celebrations for most people have little, if anything, to do with Christian belief.

Nevertheless, the Christian representation of Christmas still has something to offer. The nativity, the tree and “Merry Christmas”, along with other things like carols, have shaped the imagination and the hearts of generations past. These symbolic elements have played a significant part in making the Christmas season a time of extraordinary generosity and goodwill.

So, bah humbug to the bickering over seasons greetings, Christmas trees and nativity scenes. As for me and my house, we’ll approach the season with the awe of a small child and marvel at the wonders that make this “the most beautiful time of the year.”

Dear readers, this will be my last bi-weekly column. Thank you for reading my column, for your emails, notes, phone calls and for stopping me on the street to share your thoughts. You have been the wind beneath my wings. Merry Christmas and best wishes for 2018.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Pixabay)
B.C. seniors advocay groups responds to election platforms

BC Seniors Living Assn is dedicated to being a valuable source for development, education and growth

On Remembrance Day this year, many Canadians will be reflecting on the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. Among those will be war amputee veteran Bob Gondek (pictured), who served alongside the Allied Forces with the 2nd Polish Corps during the Italian Campaign. In 1944, Bob was based outside Loretto, Italy when heavy gun fire broke out, resulting in the loss of part of his left arm below the elbow. Bob immigrated to Canada where he became a member of The War Amps, an association originally started by amputee veterans returning from the First World War to help each other adapt to their new reality as amputees. For the last 50 years on Remembrance Day, Bob has laid a wreath to honour his comrades and pay tribute to all those who lost their lives. Photo: War Amps
Second World War veteran shares story of service, loss of limb

For 50 years, Bob has laid a wreath to pay tribute to all those who lost their lives.

Katrine Conroy has won for the fifth time in the Kootenay West riding. Photo: Submitted
Katrine Conroy ready to tackle challenges after election

Conroy won the Kootenay West riding for the fifth time

Logan Terness made 31 saves to backstop the Trail Smoke Eaters to a 4-2 victory over the Cranbrook Bucks on Saturday at the Cominco Arena. Jim Bailey photo.
Trail Smoke Eaters double up Bucks, take Game 3 of Kootenay Cup

The Trail Smoke Eaters Chase Dafoe scored the game winner in a 4-2 victory over Cranbrook Saturday

Katrine Conroy
Katrine Conroy declared winner in Kootenay West

Preliminary results put NDP candidate firmly in the lead.

FILE – Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides the latest update on the COVID-19 pandemic in the province during a press conference in the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, October 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. shatters COVID-19 records with 817 weekend cases; masks now expected indoors

Three people have died over the past three reporting periods

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Some of the characters in the League of Legends video game. (Photo: na.leagueoflegends.com)
E-sports trial at B.C. high schools to start with ‘League of Legends’ team game

For fall launch, Vancouver’s GameSeta company partners with BC School Sports

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Interior Health sees 31 new cases of COVID-19 over record-breaking weekend

Eighty-six cases remain active and one person is hospitalized with the virus

RCMP have released more details regarding what led up to an arrest caught on video in Williams Lake Sunday, Oct. 26. (Facebook video screenshot)
Review launched after ‘high-risk, multi-jurisdictional’ chase, arrest in Williams Lake

RCMP launching a full review and code of conduct investigation

(Pxfuel)
B.C. limits events in private homes to household, plus ‘safe six’ amid COVID-19 surge

Henry issued a public health order limiting private gatherings to one household, plus a group of ‘safe six’ only

B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson speaks during a drive-in car rally campaign stop at a tour bus operator, in Delta, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Andrew Wilkinson stepping down as B.C. Liberal leader

Will stay on until the next party leader is chosen

Most Read