In my many Christmas visits and in my meeting many people who come for Mass or leave the church after Mass, I hear this very common yet, rather disturbing greeting of ‘Compliments of the Season'. I have heard it from many people, and I must say that more and more, through the years, it rankles my Christian sensitivities.
When I ask people, and it is usually to Christians whom I know for sure are followers of Christ, why they use this phrase to greet one another, their reply is often “it’s only on Christmas day that we greet with Merry Christmas, and from Boxing Day onwards, it’s Compliments of the Season”. Now where did they get this idea from? Their teachers in school during 'Colonial days'? Could it be that many are not aware that liturgically, we are still in the season of Christmas right up till the Baptism of the Lord? Could it be that they want to be PC (Politically Correct) and not offend anyone by mentioning Christ and appear to be evangelical in their speech? My suspicion is that it is a strange combination of all of the above.
Could we be unthinkingly drawn into the disease that is currently sweeping over North America, where Christ is deliberately left out of Christmas? Anywhere you go in North America these days, you will be able to hear a very ‘safe’ greeting of “happy holidays” because of a more and more diverse population, where not everyone celebrates Christmas, but everyone enjoys the holidays. I suppose, if you bring that mentality to Singapore, we are a diverse population, a ‘melting pot’ of cultures, and not everyone is a Christian. But my being disturbed by this usage is not by the non-Christians, but by Christians.
Singaporean Catholics tend to be very shy when it comes to sharing their faith with others. While I certainly don’t recommend them to stand on street corners to should scripture passages to strangers, I do try to persuade and encourage all to try to take baby steps in being evangelical. Inserting Christ into your greetings during the entire Christmastide is a simple way of bringing Christ into your conversations, especially when your friends and business associates ask you the questions “but isn’t Christmas over?”
I hope that the people who read this blog entry will begin to take ownership of their Christian faith and heritage that they have been blessed with, and also begin to omit from their vocabulary the generic greetings of either Happy Holidays or Compliments of the Season, and truly bring Christ back at Christmas. At the first Christmas, there was no room for Christ at the inn. Could we be also leaving him with just as little room now, 2000 years later? If Christ is no longer the reason we are joyful at Christmas, there will be very little to compliment us as disciples of the Lord, will there?
God love you, and blessed and holy Christmas to all.