Let’s take back Christmas

By  Andrew Santos, The Catholic Register
  • December 17, 2007

One event that I always look forward to during the Advent season is the blessing of the Nativity scene at my parish, St. Justin Martyr in Unionville, Ont. Every year, before the lighting, parishioners gather outside, in front of the manger, to sing Christmas carols. The nativity scene is blessed with holy water and then lit. This is the true meaning of Christmas for me, as I get to congregate and celebrate the season with my fellow parishioners and my family and reflect on the Nativity. But other people might argue against that.

Although Canada is a predominantly Christian country whose values and beliefs are reflected in our Constitution, Charter of Rights and Freedoms and national anthem, the growing influx of immigrants with different religions is beginning to change our nation’s religious landscape.

For many of these new Canadians, Christmas is not a religious holiday for them. To many teenagers, particularly non-Christians, Christmas is just seen as a time to stay at home or go to the cinema, as most shopping centres are closed. Moves have been made by both the public school board and the City of Toronto to rephrase the word “Christmas” into “Winter Break” or “Winter Holiday.” City council erected a  controversy back in December 2005 when it wanted to rename the city’s Christmas tree a “Holiday” tree.

Since I was a child, I have anticipated and cherished the many Christmas cards that come through the mailbox at home. But I’ve noticed over the years, there has been an increase in Christmas cards with the words “Seasons Greetings” or “Happy Holidays.” Despite this my family has always taught me that when buying cards for friends or relatives, Merry Christmas should be written on them.

Recently, I was en route to my co-op placement at The Catholic Register. On the bus ride there to my complete surprise, an older fellow got my attention and said, “So you go to Catholic school, eh?” Although I was not in uniform, what probably gave it away was that the school I attend is right in front of the bus stop. “What do they teach you? Jesus and Jesus only? You know, I would get sick and tired if I went to a Catholic school. They’re constantly trying to push Jesus down everyone’s throats. Christmas is because of Jesus! Easter is because of Jesus! We’re saved because of Jesus! It’s quite ridiculous, if I may say so,” he told me.

My prayer this Christmas is despite these anti-religious attitudes that all teenagers will keep Christ and the idea of His birth central to all of our festivities. It was Mother Teresa who once said, “It is Christmas every time you let God love others through you.... Yes, it is Christmas every time you smile at your brother or sister and offer them your hand.” By just doing an act of kindness to someone this Christmas, we are radiating Christ’s love. Receiving gifts can only bring us so much happiness, but the ultimate gift we can receive is the child Jesus, sent to us as the Saviour of humanity.

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son given” (Isaiah 9:6). Merry Christmas!

(Santos, 17, is Grade 12 student at Francis Libermann Catholic Secondary School in Toronto.)

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