Every year around this time, the annual debate starts about the merits of saying “Happy Holidays” or, gasp, “Season’s Greetings”. For many, their use is an attack on Christinity or Christmas itself. In the other corner, the argument goes that these greetings are more inclusive and culturally sensitive; better for this oh-so politically correct time we live in. The topic can be highly personal, hotly debated, and tremendously polarizing.
At Sacred Heart, we don’t say Happy Holidays. Not because we aren’t sensitive to other traditions and religions - we are. Nor is it because we don’t embrace cultural sensitivities - we do. We don’t say Happy Holidays because we say Merry Christmas; and we do so loudly and proudly as a Catholic School. For us, it is entirely religious.
Christmas is a big deal here. It kicks-off early with our annual Christmas Fair in late November that draws hundreds from the community for Christmas-themed fun and activities. It’s quickly followed by Kris Kringle Week that sees students and staff taking place in Secret Santa and other Christmas-themed fun. That’s followed by ever more serious and celebrated events - the Senior School Advent Service, participation in the IWK Christmas Tree Lighting, our JP Nativity Play, our Elementary School Christmas Concert, and finally by the Elementary School Singalong, which ends the Christmas activity and the term. It’s an exhaustive list of events. But it’s not exhausting. In fact, it’s exhilarating. At each event, the joy and spirit of the season builds, particularly in our youngest children, as they learn, model, and celebrate the story of Jesus’ birth.
And while all of these events celebrate and model the spirit of Christmas, even more tangible are the lighting of Advent Wreaths at assemblies, and the service work we do as called upon by both the Gospels and our School’s Goal Three - social awareness that impels to action. We bake, we adopt families, we buy presents, we wrap and deliver gifts, we remember those who need our prayers, and we share our time. This is the real spirit of Christmas - spreading love, bringing joy, and sharing ourselves with others, especially those in need.
Christmas is so much more than a holiday. Yes it’s a break - often a much-needed one here at the school. And yes, it’s a happy time, downright merry in fact. But, for us at Sacred Heart, it’s a celebration of our identity; one that calls to mind the joy of that day in Bethlehem when in a stable, Jesus was born to and for the world.
So we’ll take this “holiday”, and we’ll make it “happy”, but we’re always going to say “Merry Christmas”!