So, first off, let me tell you: I am not Christian.
Why tell you this now? Well, because I want you to know it does not play any part when I express the following sentiment: I get SO irate when people complain about other people saying "Merry Christmas" or when they see that phrase in stores (or on buses, like on the news last night!).
People, religious tolerance does NOT mean that I hide my religion or beliefs from you! It means we ACCEPT each other's beliefs and do not judge or discriminate against one another due to differences of opinion.
If someone says Merry Christmas, or Happy Hanukkah, or Happy Diwali, it is not that they wish to impose their belief system on you, rather, they are sharing with you the joy they feel at a time of year that is special to them!
....There is nothing wrong with that....
It does not diminish your Ramadan or Sukkot, your Diwali, or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or any other religious or secular celebration you hold dear.
The outward joy and celebration of Christians at Christmas are not meant to make you feel left out, nor are they an attempt to sway you to "their" side.
It is simply joy.
Remember, you were on air the whole month before your wedding day? You had a smile for everyone!
Or when your child was born, and you had such a natural high and a LOVE for humanity because you felt so connected to the world through the miracle of life?
... Well, THAT feeling of immense peace, joy and contentment is what Christians are celebrating! And, you lucky dog you, they are SHARING it with you!!
That's right folks, no matter what your religion, you can join in on the merriment and festivities of another! What better way to show respect for our differences?!
I, for one, DO celebrate Christmas. I have many, many, many Christians in my family and among my friends. I do not believe in Jesus as the son of God, but he WAS a wise man. He had many great teachings. Christmas is in honour of that, and of his birth, and I am happy to recognize that and teach it to my children (who, by the way, are being raised in a predominantly Christian society and therefore should have at least a basic understanding of the impact Christianity has on our culture - statutory holidays, for example, or of God as the protector of keeping our land glorious and free).
Neither Christians nor their predominance in Canadian culture infringe upon the rights of the rest of us with their decorations, sayings, holidays.... whatever. If we remove all references to Christianity from our society, or if we change our language to reflect the generic Season's Greetings or Holiday Tree, we become that which we fight against: oppressive. We do not augment our freedoms by stomping on the freedoms of others!
The Christian aspects of our society are a part of our culture as a community, they reflect our history, our ties to those who came long before us and to those who built this country as we know it today. Does that mean it was without mistakes or injustices? Heck no, but we must move forward as kindred spirits, united in our desire for equality and tolerance for all.
Crushing expressions of Christianity does not increase awareness of other belief systems.... communication does that.
So, don't begrudge the "Merry Christmas" message on the bus, or the Christmas carols playing in the stores, or the tree at work..... Put a Menorah alongside the tree and wish folks a "Happy Belated Hanukkah". When you hit the stores on Boxing Day, say "Happy Kwanzaa"! When a friend expresses her joy at the birth of Christ the Saviour who died for her sins, share in the comfort it gives her and relate it to the peace you have from learning the universal messages in the Quran as told by God to Muhammad....
....And, if someone says "Merry Christmas", don't get insulted, just smile and say "And Happy New Year!"