GREETINGS IN ERA OF CORRECTNESS
By Tracy Wiggins
A couple weeks back, I decided to look for some free Christmas fun for the family to enjoy. I found The Christmas Village in Philadelphia located in the shadow of City Hall. It sounded like an interesting place. It is described as an outdoor market that is modeled after a traditional Christmas market in Germany. It features about 80 booths that sell European food, sweets and drinks along with international holiday gifts and ornaments.
Then I heard of the controversy. Over The Christmas Village. Really? Apparently, because of some opinions, the city almost removed the word "Christmas" from "Village" to be replaced with "Holiday." Again, really?
A lot of my generation grew up on what I refer to as the "fringe." We grew up just before the computer craze really grabbed ahold of the country. Cell phones were huge and usually only in cars driven by the rich. And the term "politically correct" was unheard of.
While I am not saying that being politically correct isn't a good thing, I think it can be taken a little too far. And The Christmas Village is a prime example. The Christmas Village is based on a German Christmas tradition, so why shouldn't the word "Christmas" be allowed?
Why has the word "Christmas" become so wrong? I don't think that when the words "Merry Christmas" come out of most people's mouths they are intended to offend someone. So why are they taken that way? In fact, wouldn't it be even more wrong if you stereotype someone, placing them into another "holiday" celebration category based solely on their appearance or name? That, to me, is offensive.
Most who supported the "Christmas/Holiday" change at The Christmas Village cited the need to show diversity as their reason. Inclusion is a component of diversity, but so is tolerance and open-mindedness. Diversity is supposed to bring people together, not divide them, especially not during the holidays (yes, holiday is the appropriate term here since I am referring to all the celebrations.)
If vendors from various other holiday celebrations - Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, etc. - choose to participate in the village as a vendor, they need to do so accepting that they are a part of a Christmas celebration. They shouldn't expect the tradition of the event to change to accommodate their beliefs. Think about it this way: In what instance would "holiday" be changed to say "Christmas?" It most likely wouldn't and, just as fairly, it shouldn't.
Looking at it another way, wouldn't non-Christmas vendors participating at the Christmas Village be seen as a positive for diversity? What better way to spread the messages of non-Christmas celebrations?
Another danger of using the word holiday instead of Christmas is dilution. If we lump all our celebrations together, aren't we losing what is special about each of them? Aren't we in danger of losing the words Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa altogether in favor of the non-offending, completely generic term "holiday?"
I think it is important to demonstrate to our children that there isn't one-path-fits-all in life. Just because you believe in a certain holiday doesn't mean you can't give importance (or even just acknowledgment) to other religious celebrations that are just as meaningful to other people.
So if I see you on the street and send you a "Merry Christmas," please don't be offended. Because I won't be if you return my greeting with a "Happy Hanukkah" "Happy Kwanzaa" or a simple "Thank you, and have a good day