Out on a limb

Lezlie Lowe cuts through the Christmas crap.

The story would make perfect fodder for the satirical online newspaper The Onion: Oxford, Nova Scotia’s town council passed a unanimous motion on November 28 proclaiming the entire month of December the “Christmas season” because, according to deputy mayor Leonard Allen who introduced the motion, the politically cleansed term “holiday season” isn’t giving Christ his due.

Meanwhile, on the South Shore, Donnie Hatt of Beech Hill is all riled up about his 16-metre white spruce. Hatt’s monstrous evergreen was chosen as this year’s thank-you tree commemorating Boston’s help after the Halifax Explosion. The spruce was felled a Christmas tree but erected on the Boston Common a “holiday tree.”

“Well,” Hatt told CBC News, “I think it’s a bunch of bullcrap.”

The Boston Parks Department is to blame (or to thank, depending on your view) for the nod to religious inclusivity (AKA the “bullcrap”); the city’s mayor, in light of the bruhaha, has since renamed Hatt’s spruce a certified Christmas tree. Jesus would have been proud, had he known what a Christmas tree was. The tradition is credited to 16th century Germany.

It’s a shame these two news items are linked — not only on the CBC website, but in a December 2 story in the Globe and Mail — because Donnie Hatt is right, calling what is clearly a Christmas tree a “holiday tree” is bullshit. Oxford town council, on the other hand, is just plain out of its tree.

I have to laugh at the Oxford motion lest I cry, it’s rooted in such ignorance and insecurity. December is about Christmas, yes. The mall music tells us that. But Kwanzaa, the African holiday celebrating family and community, is celebrated yearly from December 26 to January 1. The fasting month of Ramadan ended in early November this year, but it changes dates annually because it’s based on the Muslim calendar and it can be in December. In 2005, the eight-day Jewish holiday, Hanukkah (set by the Jewish calendar), begins at sundown December 25. No matter how you slice this mincemeat pie, benne cake, sweet malpua or blintz, December is without question the holiday season.

Now, Oxford might be small — Statistics Canada pegged the 2001 population at 1,332 souls— and largely Christian — the closest mosque is in Truro; the closest synagogue is in Moncton—but for god’s sake, it’s the Wild Blueberry Capital of Canada. That counts for a little bit of worldliness, doesn’t it?

If Nova Scotia wants more immigrants (and according to the government’s Immigration Strategy, it does) people urban and rural alike have to recognize newcomers aren’t always Christian. And calling December the holiday season isn’t just inclusive, it’s bloody correct. And no amount of Christian insecurity is going to change it.

Anyway, shouldn’t Oxford be putting a ban on the Easter bunny? Easter, which commemorates Jesus’ crucifiction and resurrection, is the most important Christian holiday — if we’re talking about Christianity in a Christ-on-the-cross sense, not the Hallmark-card sense — and its commercial exploitation is growing. US-based retail trade organization the National Retail Federation began tracking Easter spending last year, counting the cash Americans are doling out on Easter candy, Easter gifts and pastel bunny tchotchkes at close to $10 billion.

With all this non-resurrection-themed spending, people might start calling Easter EggFest. I might, if only to get under the skin of Oxford town council. But Donnie Hatt’s Christmas tree will always be a Christmas tree to me.

Holidazed? Email: lezliel@thecoast.ca .

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