Letter to the editor in the Orillia Packet & Times of Ontario, Canada:
Before I begin, let me preface this letter. I am writing this out of profound respect for my parents, grandparents, and all of our predecessors who have made this country what it is. I can trace my roots in Canada back five generations. Our forefathers, through hundreds of years of their efforts, are responsible for what we, as Canadians, have today. They have given us a proud heritage with copious rights and a myriad of freedoms which every person in our great country enjoys.
An email from my employer, Durham District School Board, has spawned this letter. I’d also like to mention that one of the main thrusts, Durham board is currently promoting in our schools is “respect.” We (all board employees) received an email last week, inviting us to our “second annual holiday celebration.” Holiday is replacing the word “Christmas.” I was told this is done out of consideration and sensibility of our “new Canadians/ residents,” and out of respect for their cultures, customs, religions, traditions; as some do not celebrate Christmas.
Why do you think so many people come from all over the world to Canada? To enjoy what we have, the rights and freedoms (freedom of speech, the press, religion, etc.) that are in place and thriving here — the rights and freedoms previous generations here worked for, fought for. How many countries are there in this world that any of us could go to and hope to change part of their traditions, customs, let alone renaming one of the main religious holidays on their calendars? Can you name even one?
I am not prejudiced in any way. I believe we are all equal. This country and the people in it have embraced and respectfully welcomed people from all over the world along with their customs, their cultures and traditions, which many continue to practice and observe here. This is how it should be.
But, wait a minute. As a Canadian, I have customs and traditions, too. The email that I received inviting me to a “holiday celebration” infuriated my sensibility. It deeply offended me, because it is disrespectful to our forefathers and our culture. As a Canadian, it is very important to me to call Christmas, Christmas. Let us not forget why it is called Christmas — the birth of Christ. Yes, go back a few years when this was basically a Christian country. This is another right that our ancestors fought for.
We are known as a polite, considerate, mannerly people. This country has worked hard to welcome everyone and be an all-inclusive society, but this should not be at the expense of born-and-bred Canadians losing their customs and traditions. Christmas has been known as Christmas for how many years in this country and we should not be made to feel ill at ease in our native land for continuing to use the word Christmas. It is time we start standing up for our rights and who we are. Christmas may be only the beginning. Easter could be next.
I know this is a few months premature; I will blame the Durham board for sending out their “holiday celebration” email. In closing, let me be the first to wish each and every resident of our great country a very Merry Christmas. May the peace, hope and love that is Christmas, remain with you always. Brenda Reynolds,