A bit of post-Christmas chatter

I wrote the column for the Dec. 27 Westlock News. Here it is for wider consumption. Enjoy.

Merry Christmas!

Did that offend you? No? OK, let’s try this again.

Happy Holidays!

Did I do it this time? Yes? Good.

Now, I’m not someone who likes to foment indignation all the time. And I admit you’re all reading this after Christmas, so it’s kind of a message that is kind of “a day late and a dollar short.” But I’m writing this before Christmas, so I’ve made my choice.

But the entire argument surrounding what is the proper phrase to use when greeting people at this time of year is really getting out of hand.

Listen. I understand the prevailing religion in our neck of the woods is Christianity. In fact, it is the most common religion in this entire country.

Like it or not, Canada was founded with a somewhat strong Judeo-Christian background.

And it continues to this day, much to the chagrin of some segments of the population.

Heck, it’s right there in the preamble to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms: “Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law.”

It can’t get much more obvious than that.

So, given that historical situation, I can perfectly understand why people are all gung ho to ensure this season receives its proper honorific greeting: “Merry Christmas.”

In fact, it’s the greeting I use, despite my non-existent Christianity.

But, as only the most sheltered of us have failed to see, Canada is changing. Christians are no longer the dominant force they once were.

We have Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Jews and various other belief systems very visible in our communities now.

And they bring with them their own holidays, some of which overlap with Christmas.

Not every year, mind you. Since other cultures use different calendars, their holidays tend to move around vis à vis the Gregorian calendar. That’s why Hannukah began this year on Nov. 27, but will start on Dec. 24 in 2016.

Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim holiday marking the end of Ramadan, fell right around Christmas in 2000 and 2001, and will again in 2033 and 2034.

I guess what I’m getting at is we’re not all Christian anymore. And since religion is not a race – I’m white and could be a Muslim – we really have no way of knowing what the person we’re speaking to is celebrating.

Which leads to two possible options: either try to be politically correct, or simply greet people with the holiday you’re celebrating.

And frankly, the latter is best.

It’s easy. Greet someone with a “Merry Christmas.” And if they don’t celebrate it, maybe they’ll reply with “Thanks. And Eid Mubarak to you.”

See how easy that was? No harm, no foul. We’re all in this together.