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Relax, no one's stealing Christmas

Try as I might, I just can't wrap my brain around it. Every year, I'm left scratching my head over this vague "they're destroying Christmas" notion that starts to float around.

Try as I might, I just can't wrap my brain around it. Every year, I'm left scratching my head over this vague "they're destroying Christmas" notion that starts to float around.

Never mind that no one seems to know quite who "they" are, but trust me, "they" are out to ruin everything.

Sometimes "they" are the media - that's me, incidentally - by our perceived refusal to use the word "Christmas" (interestingly enough, we've also had people point out how often we use the word "Christmas").

Sometimes, "they" are public bodies who incite a firestorm by hosting a "holiday pageant" or removing nativity scenes from a city hall.

Oh, the political correctness! Oh, the destruction of time honoured traditions! Pity our future generations who will be left empty-handed, devoid of anything of value at this time of year! Oh, sigh.

The last few seasons, it's become a theme on Facebook around this time of year, with pseudo-political status updates that use a lot of capped letters and suggest that people who "agree" should pass it on. You know the ones I'm talking about: the old "I am celebrating Christmas, not the holiday season; I will wish you Merry Christmas, not season's greetings" and so on.

With all due respect: get your knickers untwisted, take a deep breath and calm down.

At my house, we do, in fact, celebrate Christmas - probably the most popular version of Christmas in Canada in this day and age: the one that mixes modern secular traditions (like a tree and letters to Santa) with those rooted in the Christian tradition (like a decorative nativity scene and angels on the tree).

Like many people from my generation, I grew up in a churchgoing home, but we were intermittent at best (we'd qualify as the classic EasterandChristmas crowd with occasional bouts of steadfast attendance.)

As an adult, I'm what you'd call "undecided" about church, but I nonetheless enjoy the Christian narrative around Christmas and what its message means to me.

All in all, I'm a big fan of the season, and it is, in fundamental ways, extremely important to me. But there's the rub: it's important to me.

And I make no assumptions - or expectations - about what's important to others.

When it comes down to this big question of whether it's the holiday season, or whether it's Christmas, I can only ask this: what do you celebrate in your home during December and January?

Is it Christmas, either secular or religious? Then hurray for Christmas! Is it Hanukkah? Yay for eight nights of fun! Is it Kwanzaa, or the winter solstice, or Yule, or (depending on the year) Diwali, Chinese New Year or Muslim New Year?

Enjoy it!

Fill your boots with whatever holiday traditions are meaningful and important and valuable to your and your family. Celebrate to your heart's content.

Burnaby should be hopping with celebrations right now: at last count, about 50 per cent of people in Burnaby identified as either Protestant Christians, Catholics or "other" Christians.

Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, Hindus and other groups make up the balance - along with a large group of folks who have no religious affiliation at all.

So when it comes to what happens in public, tax-funded environments (like your kid's school, or at city hall, or federal buildings), the time for assuming that everyone else has the same value system as you is long gone.

There's bigger fish to fry, in my opinion. If debating over the use of the word "holidays" was somehow going to solve world hunger, or cure cancer, or find homes for every child who is waiting to be adopted, I'd be the first to use my energy to battle it out.

But it won't. And the answer, ultimately, is what it means to you - and you alone. So enjoy your holiday, whatever it is, and leave the anger for issues that warrant it.

Christina Myers is a reporter for The Record and Burnaby NOW.