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Merry Christmas

It is time to wish everyone Merry Christmas. When I was a child I was sure that Merry (Mary) Christmas was Santa Clause’s wife. Of course, Santa had all the Elves to help him make toys for children that live all around the world. Therefore, he needed a lot of help. Then the job of Mrs Mary Clause was to do all the cooking and cleaning for Santa and the Elves. This must have been very hard and demanding work for Mrs Mary. Though the vision I always had in my mind, or was it a cartoon I once saw, is that Mary was a jolly, chubby woman who enjoyed what she did. I hope that is the same for all the families in our community with big families, lots of people to feed, lots of cleaning up to do, before and after and then of course lots of resting after eating too much Christmas pudding.

There was a time when some people did not say “Merry Christmas” as this implied too much merriment. As anyone reading this will know that some drinks can make you merry. There is a proverb in the Bible that states “a merry heart does good like a medicine”. It is good to be merry – it is good for our health! While more than likely the proverb means being with a group of people who are, light-hearted and enjoying themselves, it could also mean having a little Christmas cheer. However, we do not have to drink alcohol to be merry. On the other hand, people who are merry could be drinking champagne, wine or beer and that is why some people, in the past, preferred to say “Happy Christmas”. Am I making this up?

Then there are others who prefer “Happy Holidays” at Christmas time. That does not mean that they do not want to be “merry” but for many Christmas/New Year is time for a holiday.  I read the other day that 2 million Australians are being forced to take holidays at this time of the year.  As they go off on their forced leave their employers say “happy holidays”. Happy suits their situation and I hope this is what happens for all those people who usually prefer to work rather than take time off and be with friends and/or family.

Words can have a parochial meaning and this is so with “Merry Christmas”. In America people, commonly say “Merry Christmas” and in the United Kingdom it is more traditional to say “Happy Christmas”. I am not sure what the common term is in Australia for wishing another “good will” at this time of the year.  As long as we are careful and have respect for different faiths and beliefs we should be okay. Am I politically incorrect if I say “Merry Christmas” when it was only my intention to give someone a greeting and wish them well? What greeting do you prefer?

Christmas card drawn by Botanical Artist Sandra Johnston, Adelaide

While Christmas is supposed to be a “merry” or “happy” time not everyone is having fun as some take the opportunity to celebrate Christmas with family too far and this can lead to family and community violence.  Too much of a good thing is often not good for us.

Then there is the situation where parents are juggling a family of “believers” and “non-believers”. For example, the family with children ranging in ages 5 years to 15 years. There will be some children who believe in Santa Clause, Mary, the Elves and not to forget the Reindeer’s, while older children in the family know that Santa is a fake. The topic of conversation for the younger children is what to leave out for Santa on his tiring trip around the world – a cold soft drink or a beer? Then there are carrots to keep the reindeer’s on their toes. Yes, Reindeer’s do have toes, four on each foot.

I don’t know if it is the right thing to do, that is, let children live in a fantasy world. But then what is wrong with letting children get drawn up in the excitement, enjoyment  and enchantment of all the Christmas fables. I started off my life as a “believer” in Santa and even though this was all fantasy I grew out of it and none the worst for it. At least that’s what I tell myself when I am cynical about other things in the grown-up world!

We have fake trees at Christmas, fake snow, fake Santa’s with fake beards and still the children love it. So please no one spoil the “wee believers” Christmas fantasy. And for the grown up’s when you don’t get exactly what you want from Santa in 2016 don’t forget to put on that fake smile. Then there will be plenty of merriment to share around as all have a very merry, happy, happy holiday Christmas.

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