The Christmas season has always held fond memories for me. For as long as I can remember, it was filled with family, presents, aromatic cakes, flavourful Trinidadian holiday fare and of course, Christmas lights. Since I have been living in Canada – over 36 years now, I’ve watched this tradition change and evolve from one filled with cheerful greetings to polite, almost apologetic nods of acknowledgement.
I can’t really call myself a newcomer anymore, but I am still a visible minority and I personally get a little annoyed when the proverbial question rolls around every year, usually in a quiet whisper, “do you celebrate Christmas?”
I recognize the question is always posed by someone who’s trying to be sensitive to my own cultural background but what I really want to say is, “Even if I didn’t, it’s still Christmas, and I’m Canadian so I don’t mind if you share this greeting with me.”
I’ll take the risk of sounding preachy and say that the point of living in a multicultural society is to share and embrace the differences. If we can’t say Merry Christmas, then we shouldn’t say Happy Diwali, or Eid Mubarak. We should just coin a politically correct blanket statement that works for all and ignore the beauty of the cultural mosaic we are fortunate enough to be part of.
But perhaps I’m a bit biased since I’ve been lucky. I come from a background of people who’ve lived in a multicultural society for generations. Trinidad, while still a third world country with its own socio-economic issues, has always been ahead when it comes to melting pots of the world.
Plus I grew up in Rexdale. Most of my classmates were newcomers. As kids usually do, we shared our own cultures and incorporated Canadian traditions into our own. As a result, today many of these same schoolmates have children who are a product of this multiculturalism.
As a communicator, I’m often in the middle of this semi-controversy. To say or not to say the two words that may offend is often thrown into our laps. In many cases, we wait the decision of the powers-that-be to agree to a key statement that fits all and then we execute this statement publicly. Damage control is often considered when coining such a phrase.
So, as the principal of my own company, I’ll make that executive decision and wish all my clients, friends, colleagues and of course family, a very Merry Christmas.