Swimming in the PC sea

Castlegar News bi-weekly columist Karen Haviland examines an issue that possibly draws controversy around this time of year.

So, how’s it going? Are you just about ready for Christmas? Or maybe I should be politically correct and say the Holiday Season.

No, the 60s rebel in me just can’t bring myself to be so politically correct that the words Merry Christmas never slide from my mouth again.

I learned a strong lesson about political correctness almost 30 years ago and it is a lesson I have never forgotten.

It was hat day at my son’s school and I wasn’t informed until the last minute. Now, hat day was just a fun day where children wore silly hats. No big deal, but at the last moment there was little time for imagination or consideration for a busy working mom.

Being ever resourceful, I grabbed an old pillow case, and a pair of scissors and cut a large corner off of it. I then tore out two eyeholes and a mouth hole and passed the newly fashioned “hat” to my son. Yeah, I know. Stupendously dumb. But back then tolerance and political correctness were just in the process of being born and so I never thought anything of it. To me, it was simply a silly hat for hat day. Nothing more, nothing less.

To others, especially the staff at my son’s school, it was a huge problem and they let me know in no uncertain terms that inadvertent or not, they had zero tolerance for anything of that nature. Even now as I write this I truly hang my head in shame and embarrassment but the deed was done and I had to deal with an angry and distraught tween. I got it then and I get it even more now.

That was incredibly stupid and insensitive and I apologize for that, even now.

Yes, I did learn a lesson about being politically correct and tolerant that day and I have never forgotten it.

But this thing about Christmas I just don’t get. Yes, Happy Hanukkah to those who are Jewish, and Happy Kwanzaa to those of colour. And even Happy Holidays to those of no faith.

But to my Christian friends who believe in God, I say Merry Christmas. I don’t consider it politically incorrect to say those words out loud in those circumstances.

Yes, I understand that not everyone is a Christian and might be offended, but I don’t get it. Do you know what I mean?

Just examine the word Christmas. The word Christ is embedded right in it for a reason. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not, nor will I ever be a religious zealot trying to beat Christianity into you, I’m merely defending the right to use the word and not let it be lost in today’s ocean of political correctness.

Of course, if I know you are Jewish I would wish you Happy Hanukkah. I do, however, understand that one can’t possibly know if another person is Jewish or Christian simply by looking at them. So if you are of another faith and I wish you a Merry Christmas, please accept my wishes as being friendly and true and not an insult.

Now, if you wished me a Happy Hanukkah, I would have a couple of choices. I could politely inform you of my faith or accept the wishes for what they are. It’s likely I would just accept the wishes and go on with my day. No harm intended.

I hope I haven’t offended anyone with this column. That surely wasn’t my intent.

So to you, all of the readers, I wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and a Joyous Kwanzaa. Whatever faith you might be, I wish that the season brings you much joy with your loved ones.