Lasha Morningstar


December 15, 2014

Bicker. Bicker. Bicker.

During recent years, people began snapping at each other, debating what greeting should be exchanged during this holiday season. It used to be "Merry Christmas." Now, with our influx of people from other countries, plus those who have stepped away from their Christian faith, "Merry Christmas" is often frowned upon.

Various countries – especially those in the Nordic lands where it is dark for so many months – have their special hailings too.

Now conversations, radio programs, schools are caught up in the proper seasonal words to use. What if the person is Jewish? Or maybe Muslim? Or maybe they do not celebrate this season at all. The fear of offending them is thrashed around in search of political correctness.

So they use the all-inclusive "Happy Holidays" to cover the bases and keep from offending anyone.

How did it all become so complicated?

My favourite Christmas greeting comes in the form of a friend's Christmas letter. A brilliant author with a joyful husband and two smashingly successful daughters, her missive lets me know what is going on in their lives. I devour every word and read it two, maybe even three, times.

That is their gift to friends and family. A precious one it is too. So that "greeting" covers all the bases without upsetting anyone.

I live in an area where Muslim people have moved in because of a mosque and a new school. I keep track of their celebrations and what the proper salutation is. I call it out across the road to them when I see them.

Admittedly, they are at first startled and usually give a hesitant wave and slight smile. But the next time they see me, there are bright "Hellos" and hearty waves.


I always call my Jewish friends when it is their new year and tell them, "L'Shanah Tovah." Of course, I want them to be written in the Book of Life and have a happy new year.

Now do I expect anyone to wish me a Merry Christmas? No. It would be lovely if they did. That is my sacred time. But most usually resort to "Happy Holidays." That is their choice. Maybe that is their seasonal greeting.

For me that is just fine because I hate people feeling I have denied their feelings and salutations of their season. This all came about when I said, "It's always going to be Merry Christmas for me." With all my heart, I did not mean to be rude or exclude others' feelings or celebratory words.


I am sorry. I am also studying the various religious celebrations and write them down in a notebook so I won't make mistakes.

Christmas for me is a time of profound reflection. It is a time to read over the story of Jesus' birth, sing the glorious hymns and get in touch with those far away.

That is the time when I worship at the Marian Centre. It's a welcoming place in Edmonton's inner city. Strangers we have never seen before are given a smile. A young mother soothes her newborn babe. Families with their flock of children giggle and fill the pews.


The service is always splendid. Father Tom Talentino tells the story of Jesus' birth from a new vantage point each year, often including the fascinated children. The homily is told with tenderness, yet filled with the joy of the Saviour's birth. Even the youngest of the wee ones are silent, entranced by the story.

The singing is rapturous as we embrace the carols of old. My favourite is We Three Kings. I can see them so clearly in my imagination as I sing, journeying through the night, following the star of David, surrounding the manger and giving their gifts to the newborn king.

So whatever the salutation, know that the intent is to honour your holy season.

(Lasha Morningstar