Here Comes the Judge

Every year it happens and I brace for it. The predictable outrage about when Christmas decorations go up. No one can do anything about when they appear in stores, so they crab about peoples’ personal preferences. Can’t someone wear a poppy and install Christmas lights at the same time without being judged for it?

Even though the poppies have come off our lapels, the crabbing won’t let up. This is the subject of my column this week for Our London. I rewrite a couple of Christmas carols and debunk the so-called war on Christmas.

Bah to Holiday Humbugs!

If being judgmental about the holidays were an Olympic sport, many Canadians would be walking around with gold medals dangling from their necks. Put Olympic Judgmentalism between curling and hockey in the winter games. It would look like running-of-the-bulls of finger wagging and harrumphing. Everyone knows how you should be living your life on the approach to the festive season, and they can’t wait to tell you where you’re wrong.

The lyrics of classic carols ought to change to reflect the true nature of these weeks leading up to Christmas. Deck the halls but not too early, tsk-tsk-tsk-tsk-tsk, tsk-tsk-tsk-tsk. Jingle bell, jingle bell, jingle bell rock, but don’t forget jazz and country and pop. Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, vegan and GMO-free.

A sampling of recent grievances: Your Christmas decorations are going up too early. Your radio station or store is playing Christmas music too early, too often or not the right songs. You don’t say Merry Christmas, you say Happy Holidays, and so you’re part of the war on Christmas. You spell Santa Claus incorrectly with an e – Santa Clause – all because of that silly Tim Allen movie. (That one is mine.)

Someone holly and jolly beat the rush before Remembrance Day and sent me a Christmas card on Nov. 8. This didn’t offend me. Part of the reason our war heroes sacrificed themselves was to give us the freedom to live our lives the way we choose, and that includes preparing for Christmas early. I shop for the holidays all year around but I don’t jabber on about it because it only draws fire.

Everyone has the power to walk away, turn the radio dial, play their own in-house Christmas-music mix and put their attention toward other things like, oh, I don’t know, perhaps their own lives. And let me make this abundantly clear: There is no war on Christmas. One of the ways you can tell it’s not real is because the American president keeps saying that it’s real. Dodgy evangelical ministers with criminal pasts also love to rile up their flock by claiming it exists. Wishing Happy Holidays is meant to include everyone’s celebrations in this multicultural country and not erase Merry Christmas. So if people stopped saying Merry Christmas as often, it came from a place of welcoming respect. Two-thirds of Canadians are Christian so there’s no need for Christmas celebrants to behave like a repressed minority. Sometimes we just need to wiggle down the pew and make room for another person’s belief.

A friend of mine decorated her tree on the first of November. She has the happiness of Christmas in her heart all year round and loves the holidays like I love chocolate-covered almonds. It’s part of what makes her so charming. So before getting up on a high horse – or reindeer – over timing and schedules, remember that even veterans disagree on whether it’s bothersome to decorate for Christmas before Remembrance Day. If they reach a consensus, we should all fall in line. But something tells me they’d rather we were free to choose for ourselves.

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