Last evening, I went to the Christmas concert – ahem, sorry, that should be the End-of-Year concert – at my children’s public primary school. It’s not my first concert at the school, closer to my fifth I reckon, but each year it’s becoming incrementally less Christmas-y.
Now, I’m no raging Christian. In fact, by any fundamental Christian’s viewpoint, I am not Christian. You won’t find me with a bible in my hand, or bashing your ear about Jesus and God. I promise not to post a meme that says something about putting the Jesus bit back in the word Christmas. I was, however, raised in a church environment and went twice each Sunday with my parents and brothers; to my regret, I even had a stint decades ago as a minister of religion for this church. Perhaps my upbringing impacts on my feelings on this matter – no doubt it does, if I ponder it deeper – but I fail to see the harm in singing Away in a Manger, and Hark the Herald Angels Sing, at a concert which celebrates the up-coming central focus point of our Australian Christian calendar.
I am aware that in today’s global world, we need to be more welcoming of other cultures and religions. And you know what? I think, mostly, we are. Generally, most of us are friendly and want to reach out; ironically, I think what contributes to us not reaching out, or appearing unfriendly towards immigrants, is the FEAR that we will inadvertently say something that is politically incorrect. I admit here not to having any data on this, but most people who have migrated to this country are aware, before arriving, that it is a Christian-based country. Again, I have no research to back this up, but I don’t think immigrants are offended by our Christmas trees, wreaths, presents, tinsel, songs or signs that wish us all a Merry Christmas. I have, however, spoken to a few mums at my kids’ school, some who are Muslim, and some Hindu, and they tell me that in their homes they – gasp – celebrate Christmas. They give gifts, Father Christmas brings presents for their children, they share food and joy with family and friends, while still holding firm to their own religious beliefs and traditions. And that is a-OK, if you ask me. To be clear, I am not advocating assimilation, as was demanded here some fifty-odd years ago. I am noting that those among us who have other faiths and beliefs freely usher in aspects of our social customs.
Back to last night at the concert, the parents and grandparents, sitting on the hard bitumen outside the gym, were treated to Let it Go, The Final Countdown, and You’re Welcome, to name only a few. To be fair, there were some Christmas songs presented by the children, such as All I Want for Christmas and Go, Santa, Go and Feliz Navidad. But not a carol to be heard. Why can’t we sing a carol at Christmas, I wonder? Is a baby born in a stable that offensive?
I’ll be willing to bet there are more people offended by the on-going warbles in Let it Go, than anyone would be over Joy to the World. Why do we feel like we have to let go (pun intended) of our beliefs and customs to become more welcoming. If we personify the situation, it would demonstrate a disturbing lack of character, wouldn’t you say? Someone who is a bit wishy-washy, not wholly connected to their own self, or values, and seems to fade and morph into those around them. We are all attracted people who possess a strong personality, those who know who they are and stand firm in that knowledge. Why then, are we morphing our country into something that is insipid and afraid? Please don’t misunderstand my thoughts here…I do not wish my country to return to its colonial beginnings, strong-arming newcomers and indigenous folk into a certain way of living. I would merely like to hold onto singing Christmas carols at a Christmas concert, and be able to wish our friends, acquaintances and family a happy Christmas.