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I was standing in the queue at Woolworths (Country Road) in
Sandton yesterday when I overheard the following conversation:
"Kian, stop that or I will call Santa!"
"Noooo," screamed Kian, who looked to be around 4
"Well, then stop running around or you will leave me
with no choice!"
Unhappily, Kian slunk into the line and stood next to his
mom in defeated silence. You could almost see him counting the years before he
would leave to go to a boarding school in the Natal Midlands.
I turned to look at the mom. She was blonde with an almost
see-through complexion. She was either visiting from Illovo or the UK. She was
dressed in khaki pants, a white shirt with a pastel pink cardigan flung
effortlessly around her shoulders – as if she had just remembered to take it
off the seat of her white Range Rover. She wore flat Todds in pastel blue.
She had never had a weight problem.
If it wasn't 15:00 on a Tuesday in Sandton City, she might
have had a pink G&T in her one hand but now that I think of it, that might
have been the problem. She might have been a little more pleasant if she had.
I am Jewish. I am deeply respectful of other religions. I
feel strongly that Christians need to take back Christmas from a "PC"
world that has made them apologetic around the celebration of the festival and
of their faith.
We sadly live in a world of "Season's Greetings!"
or "Compliment of the season!", just in case someone is offended by
the exclusionary nature of the term.
Last year I wrote a piece suggesting that Christians take
back Christmas. I commented that Christians are the most persecuted religion
globally and that I believed that it was time that this changed. Change, I
believe needed to come from pride in the celebration of the festivals. And why
not start with Christmas? Why not start with dropping the "Season's
Greetings" nonsense and begin with "Merry Christmas!"
I assured readers that my children will not feel excluded
simply because they are Jewish. They will not feel marginalised. In fact, it's
probably a brilliant lesson for them to learn – the lesson that not everything
is about them and that there is a place to be happy for others.
The response to the article was mixed. Whereas some were
encouraged by what I had written, others were not. What followed in certain
groups was an in-depth discussion about the accuracy and the legitimacy of the
Christmas holiday. The fact that it might have had its roots as a pagan
festival bothered a few commentators and the commercialisation of the season
It was quickly pointed out that Santa was a Coke marketing
symbol and that the Christmas trees had their roots (so to speak) in Egypt
before being adopted by the Germans who brought them indoors in order to remind
them that even in the depth of winter, there are evergreen trees and so life
I could hardly believe it. "So what?" I wanted to
scream. Surely the festival is about the celebration of faith? Surely, it's
about reaffirming belief in what the religion stands for and not about the
details and historical accuracy?
Surely, it's about family and getting together and food and
warmth and love and all those good things? Surely, it's about annoying parents
and irritating children and cousins that you have no desire to see, but then
when you do you have the best time together – as only cousins can?
Why, for God's sake, does it need to be debated into a state
of cold intellectualism?
I was initially irritated with Kian's mom. Because at first
I thought she was using Santa for all the wrong reasons. And then I thought
about it further and realised that it's just the opposite.
Santa and Christmas are clearly an important part of their
lives and her threat endorsed that. And that is pretty cool. I just hope that
Kian, my little buddy gets what he was hoping for.
- Howard Feldman is a keynote speaker and analyst. He is the author of two books and is the morning talk show host on ChaiFM. Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.
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