It’s Time to Bring Back Christmas (Daily Telegraph, 15 December 2016)

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It’s Time to Bring Back Christmas (Daily Telegraph, 15 December 2016)

At least, it should be. The truth is, these days it’s looking more like “a nondescript season of inclusive festive merriment”. Which doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, but at least it won’t offend anyone.

Because, in case you didn’t know, Christmas is now offensive. And the usual suspects are falling over themselves to avoid the new C-word.

Even the local council in my electorate no longer has a Christmas bash — instead there’s an “Annual Community Appreciation Party”.

With a catchy name like that, I’m surprised they haven’t rebranded Sydney’s carols extravaganza “Annual Community Appreciation Songs in the Domain’’.

What’s most disappointing about this insistence on hiding Christmas away is that it has gradually become the default position in much of modern Australia. Just this week I became aware that a government agency in my own department had lined The Rocks with Christmas-themed banners that somehow managed to avoid a single utterance of the word “Christmas”.

I’m surprised they haven’t rebranded Sydney’s carols extravaganza “Annual Community Appreciation Songs in the Domain’’.

“Very merry” is all the banners vaguely declare. What does that even mean? It’s the kind of vacuous platitude that brings no joy to anyone.

An eloquent complaint from a fed-up member of the public brought the banners to my attention: “It is Christmas. Stop spending my money (not yours) denying an Australian (and world) celebration.”

I completely agree, and this should never have happened. So this year we are bringing Christmas back to The Rocks.

To be fair, it’s unlikely that a conscious decision was made to keep “Christmas” off the ­offending banners.

But that doesn’t make it any less disappointing. Because instances such as this reflect the forlorn surrender of our culture to the secular zealots who, for years, have been telling us that joyfully celebrating Christmas is offensive and exclusive.

Of course we are expected to show no such reticence celebrating minority religions in Australia, lighting up the Opera House for the Hindu festival of Diwali, for example, or hosting Ramadan commemorations at Parliament House. In those cases, inclusiveness means putting the festival in the spotlight to enable others — “outsiders” — to share the joy or fun or solemnity of the occasion.

Why not do the same for Christmas? After all, it’s hard to be inclusive about something you’re ashamed of.

Frankly, like many Australians, I’m sick of the tiptoeing. Sick of apologising for the good, true and beautiful elements of the country and the culture I love. Celebrating diversity shouldn’t mean censoring ourselves and neutering our own culture and traditions.

And let’s get real: Christmas is not the least bit offensive.

It commemorates the day when Christians believe a loving God came into the world in the fragile form of a child, taking on our humanity in all of its frailty. And it is deeply embedded in Australian culture as the biggest holiday on the calendar — the end of the working year and the beginning of the summer break.

Christmas is hands-down fantastic, and it is utterly bizarre that we should feel the need to hide it away.

Last week it was reported in the UK that a Muslim family would open their restaurant to the elderly and homeless for free meals on Christmas Day.

It’s a lesson to us all: if a family who don’t even celebrate Christmas can spread Christmas joy, then it’s high time those of us who hold it dear did at least that much.

So this year, when the season is in full swing and that little PC voice in the back of your head starts its nervous squeak of shame, don’t hesitate — drown it out and say it loud and proud: Merry Christmas!

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