12.07.2008

i hate christmas comes early this year

My Christmas filters are not functioning properly. I think the energy I usually expend keeping Christmas out of my life is being diverted by anxiety over the war resisters and the political situation. I feel like an old Star Trek episode: too much power is diverted, the shields won't hold.

I notice that last year, I didn't write "I hate Christmas" until December 20. (If you go back and read that old post, be sure to check out the comments. There are some great links.) This year, I have so much hate for Christmas, my rant starts three weeks early.

I hate the advertising.

I hate the constant exhortations to buy useless things.

I hate the music.

I hate the assumption that I celebrate this Christian holiday.

I hate the assumption, since I don't celebrate Christmas, that I must be celebrating Chanukah, as if Chanukah has fuck-all to do with Christmas.

I hate that this Christian holiday is plastered all over our supposedly secular world. Ramadan isn't pushed in our face this way, nor Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, nor Diwali, nor Yule, nor any important holiday of any other religion. Although I'm sure if any of those holidays somehow morphed into a compulsory spending spree, marketers and advertisers would find a way to exploit it.

I don't hate your Christmas. If Christmas is meaningful to you, I hope you fully enjoy it. But I don't expect other people to celebrate the days that are meaningful in my life, and I hate that people expect this of me.

I would no sooner celebrate the birth of Jesus than I would celebrate the birth of Zeus. (Although Allan and I might celebrate the birth of Dionysus.) But the modern-day version of the birth of Jesus means nothing to me because... I'm not Christian!

Spare me the rationalization about Christmas now being a secular holiday. That offends me even more. Your habits and customs are not the standard, applied to all. That's like assuming everyone is heterosexual, or speaks English - or is "American". Celebrating Christmas may be the norm where you live, and the practice may be overwhelmingly popular, but that doesn't make it secular.

Recently someone told me that if I had kids, I would celebrate Christmas. Wrong! If I had kids, that wouldn't turn me into a Christian, and I wouldn't raise my kids with somebody else's traditions. My kids wouldn't be "deprived" of Christmas. That's like saying lesbians are deprived of having sex with men. Do Canadians feel deprived because they don't celebrate the Fourth of July?

Last year, I wrote, "Despite these feelings, I do participate in some ways," referring to holiday cards (some years), a few obligatory presents, and some end-of-year appreciation tips. I wrote, "I do use this time of year as a time for those kinds of acknowledgements. It's easier than being truly eccentric and doing that in, say, February." This still works for me, more out of convenience than anything else. If there was a more convenient way to do this, at another time of year, I would do it. But year's end, vaguely between Christmas and New Year's, works for me. Naturally we would never buy or make a card with any suggestion of Christmas, and of course no religiosity.

This year I hate Christmas so much, we're not even discussing cards. Also, money is tight, and card-sending really adds up. But it's not just our budget. It's my irritated brain.

57 comments:

L-girl said...

Re "I hate the music", there are many Christmas/winter songs that I like.

What I hate is how the hideous cliched muzak in every store and many public places immediately switches over to Christmas mode at the same time.

Ryan said...

I agree with all of your assessments of a consumeristic Christmas. The fact that the centrepiece of Christmas is a man who brings plastic toys to children who already have plenty of things to reward them for god-knows-what is probably the most offensive element of Christmas. And the Muzak... dear god the muzak!

But I'm somewhat offended at your accusation that this "Christian" holiday is "plastered all over" our secular society. What is inherently wrong with celebrating the religious in public? I mean, I can understand when people yell "convert, convert!" or are outwardly hostile, but really, how does it hurt you to see a nativity display or angel on the top of a tree?

Should the religious be relegated to the private sphere? If so, do you think that religious arguments presented against deporting the draft resisters should have been left in the churches? What if I were to argue that my faith calls me to be in solidarity with the poor and oppressed while resisting Empire?

The holiday we see celebrated in North America doesn't have much of a religious tinge anyway. Lots of reindeer, lots of Santas and snowmen. I would argue, in fact, that the secularization of Christmas has benefited consumerism more than anything. The fact that Christmas is "just another holiday" where you have to buy buy buy, and that there is nothing "sacred" about it, no "moral to the story" helps nothing but large corporations--regardless of if you think God planted his seed in Mary or not. The religious right use this holiday as an excuse to force (a consumerist) conformity, while the corporations use it for much the same purpose, that you are not a good citizen if you don't celebrate by buying.

Though I must admit, I'm glad that you decide not to celebrate Christmas, rather than applying a forced secularization where Santa (not St. Nick, who, historically, was a saint who GAVE of himself for the benefit of most needy--not exactly our Santa) is fine, reindeer are fine, and even Scrooge is fine when he helps you save money so you can buy more things.

Toma said...

You are not alone! I'm there with you. 2 years ago I wrote a complaint about a radio station playing that music 24/7 well before Thanksgiving, even before my birthday, they started Nov 4th! We subscribe to satellite radio, so I don't have to change stations constantly. If I hear it in the stores, it saves me money because I'll leave a lot sooner.

With everyone trying to be PC, it is easier to find generic seasonal cards. We use those and write our own message with our own photos.
The commercialization of christmas is, IMHO, un-christian like.

L-girl said...

But I'm somewhat offended at your accusation that this "Christian" holiday is "plastered all over" our secular society.

I'm offended by your religion being shoved in face. I have to live with that every time I step outside. All you have to do - if my expressions offend you - is not read this blog.

I'm not suggesting you shouldn't read this blog. You are most welcome here.

But avoiding my thoughts that find offensive is very easy. Avoiding Christmas is impossible.

What is inherently wrong with celebrating the religious in public?

It sends the message to people who don't subscribe to that religion that they are unwelcome, less important, than the majority.

In a pluralistic society, where people are free to choose their own religion, that right can only be happily and freely exercised if it is kept in the private and religious sphere.

but really, how does it hurt you to see a nativity display or angel on the top of a tree?

It tells me that I am, still, after all this time, a stranger in a strange land.

It tells me I don't matter, because I'm Jewish, and an atheist.

It sends the same message that a black child gets if every image she sees in the media is white.

It tells me that you, and everyone who would ask this question, are insensitive, at best, about imposing your majority views on the minority.

How does it hurt me?? How does it hurt me to live every day in a world that says THIS IS THE WAY THINGS ARE, AND YOU ARE DIFFERENT, SO FUCK YOU?

Should the religious be relegated to the private sphere?

Of course!

If so, do you think that religious arguments presented against deporting the draft resisters should have been left in the churches?

Those letters are not expressions of religion, as you well know. They are expressions of support.

Just like, eg, a letter of support from a socialist group is not a statement of socialism.

On the other hand, you are comparing faith groups' support of the war resisters - something only seen and heard when one is working on war resister business - to the ubiquity of Christmas decorations, music and advertising?

Is this even worth answering?

What if I were to argue that my faith calls me to be in solidarity with the poor and oppressed while resisting Empire?

Yes? What about it? Who is stopping you from doing so or suggesting you not do so?

The holiday we see celebrated in North America doesn't have much of a religious tinge anyway.

That's your opinion. My post already addresses what I think of that argument.

Though I must admit, I'm glad that you decide not to celebrate Christmas,

I suppose you have no idea how offensive that sounds. Since you are a reader and semi-regular commenter, I'm trying to be nice. But you're not making it easy.

I'm a Jew and an atheist. I don't DECIDE to not celebrate Christmas, any more than I decide to be a woman. (Thanks to ImpStrump for that analogy.)

rather than applying a forced secularization

WTF are you talking about? I am not in favour of forcing anyone to do anything. I'm not telling you or anyone else to not celebrate Christmas - and neither is anyone else.

L-girl said...

Toma, thanks. Good job writing letters!

redsock said...

But I'm somewhat offended at your accusation that this "Christian" holiday is "plastered all over" our secular society.

When November begins, do you ever go outside? Seriously. Do you? I think you must hiberate in a cave until January 1.

L-girl said...

What if I were to argue that my faith calls me to be in solidarity with the poor and oppressed while resisting Empire?

You know, although I am a hardcore atheist, I frequently defend religion on this blog. I reject the notion put forth by many atheists that religion is only a negative force in the world. I often point out the faith component in social justice movements through history. That's a common theme of mine, or at least not an uncommon one.

So for you to imply that my disgust and alienation at Christmastime has anything to do with your personal expression of your faith - or is somehow anti-religion in general - is bizarre.

rww said...

Get used to it. The Christian religious holiday is minor compared the the Capitalist spending and going into debt holiday. The only way to abolish Christmas is to abolish capitalism.

L-girl said...

Get used to it.

Do you think I'm not used to it? Have you not heard of venting on one's own blog?

The Christian religious holiday is minor compared the the Capitalist spending and going into debt holiday.

Am I only allowed to hate one thing at a time? Did you not read that part of my hatred of Christmas is about consumerism?

"Get used to it" is a very snotty and dismissive thing to say. That's not welcome here.

redsock said...

Get used to it.

Well, that's helpful.

She's 47. She's plenty fucking used to it by now.

deang said...

I also hate that you're expected to see your family this time of year, whether you like your family or not.

And the "Think of the children!" plea is always a weak cry of irrational last resort. Reminds me of people who say respect for the president and memorization of patriotic songs should be maintained in US schools because not to do would somehow destroy children's faith and hope. Insane.

One of the funniest commentaries on the ubiquity of Christmas was in the old Charlie Brown Easter special, when a couple of the characters were wanting to shop for Easter decorations one spring, went into a shop to get some, and the store's Christmas promotion was already underway. That still makes me laugh.

L-girl said...

I also hate that you're expected to see your family this time of year, whether you like your family or not.

Me too.

I like my family (now), but we don't get together this time of year. I'm sick of hearing that is "sad".

Anonymous said...

I like to think that the Christmas-New Years megaholiday has the potential to become a post-modern multi-cultural celebration of nothing in particular. A Halloween with turkey. If we're going to globalize, I hope we at least get a decent holiday for our troubles. And on one of the darkest days of the year to boot.

On the other hand, all that consumerism would mean more muzak. I worked in retail for a handful of Decembers, and even Winter Wonderland is grating by about December 3.

impudent strumpet said...

Thinking back to when I was religious, I think it would have been far more meaningful for me if it had been confined to the private sphere. I can't quite articulate why, but the idea of gathering the family together in the dark depths of winter, sharing a meal, decorating the house with shiny things and listening to cheesy music to celebrate the birth of your messiah would be very appealing if it was a private affair. It would be quaint and meaningful, like those people who walk around with smudges on their foreheads all day on Ash Wednesday.

If xmas wasn't so ubiquitous, I'd probably feel moved to put up lights on my balcony and give little boxes of candy to my co-workers, just to recreate some quaint moments from my childhood. But as it stands, being bombarded with the religion I deliberately left for months and months every time I go to buy groceries or toilet paper or eat lunch at the food court doesn't give me any breathing space to develop any possible appreciation for it. I just want it to STFU.

It's like how you can't appreciate your parents as people when they're all up in your shit every minute of every day. It's much better in limited doses and on your own terms.

Ryan said...

Yikes... obviously I struck a few chords. Mostly chords that weren't meant to be struck. So, I apologize if I didn't express myself so clearly--especially when I said that I am "somewhat offended" when in reality I just don't think the opinion expressed is the "correct" one in dealing with the religious in public. I know that you aren't attacking the religions themselves, and the notion would never have crossed my mind based on the very kind words you have had for faith groups in the past. But just to make it clear, this has nothing to do with you or your beliefs. This has to do with the notion that religions should only be private affairs. Not whether a religion or religion itself is "right" or "wrong"

Where to begin...

Why should I keep my religion out of the public sphere? It's a part of who I am, indeed the very core of who I am. I see the whole world through the prism of my faith. I would dare to say, even, that it is cultural for me, and a lot of people running from fundamentalists to Quakers. I celebrate the Christian calendar, celebrate it with my friends in private and celebrate it in public while marching in the gay pride parade every June with the United Church Calgary Presbytery. Our signs read "God is Here for Everyone." Is that an inappropriate public display of the religious? To say "it should be out of sight" essentially says I can't express my cultural identity nor the language of it in public. In fact, I revel in the expression of faith where I work at the University when the Muslim Students Association sings their prayers aloud on Fridays. It doesn't hurt me, doesn't make me feel like I'm under attack, even as a person of a different faith. Is this something that would also offend you? If they were saying "y'all should be Muslims" or "homosexuals are bad cuz God says so," it would of course be unacceptable, but this is nothing like that.

I am comparing Christmas and the War Resisters campaign not in terms of moral magnitude, but in perceived attitude towards religious displays in public by secularists. If I were to say "God doesn't want people to kill eachother," would that be an unacceptable expression of faith? If I were to bring an image of Jesus with "Love one another" written on it to an anti-war rally, would that be too? You are treating religious beliefs as if it were a separate sphere in people's lives. The reality is, for a lot of people, this is simply not the case. To claim that the support given to war resisters by church groups is somehow separate from their faith is puzzling to me. I am all for the separation of religious institutions and the state. But it doesn't mean people shouldn't be allowed to express their identities in public if it is not used to castigate or attack other peoples.

I can certainly understand offense at fiery evangelism, condemnation and moralizing in public, as I am likely just as offended as you. But to suggest that the mere presence of religious symbols or the like automatically means that you are being othered or somehow unwelcome in this country is a tad extreme. When a church, for example, puts out a nativity display, they are celebrating something that has deep and important meaning in their lives. It doesn't say "Jews, atheists and Muslims you better convert" or "lookee here we have the truth," though some groups may do that. At the core, it says "this is who we are." Whether or not it goes beyond that depends on how the group deploys it or whatever, but there is nothing inherently bigoted or "othering" about it.

And the point about you not celebrating Christmas was not to say that you advocated that in any way, and surely if you read it again you will see that I said nothing of the sort. What I am saying is that many people wish to celebrate Christmas while separating it from its Christian roots (after all, it is in the name). They would like to have their cake and eat it too. For many people, the severance of Christmas from any meaning beyond giving presents (I don't really care if Christmas is "Jesus-ee" or not. Yet, the secularization of Christmas has mostly had the effect of playing to people's sentimental feelings of the holidays while removing any sort of deep meaning to the holiday (ie good will towards humanity). I wasn't attacking you with that point, I was actually affirming the rationality of your attitude towards it. I was saying that not celebrating Christmas, rather than saying "Christmas is okay, as long as there's no Jesus," makes a lot more sense to me.

Anyway, can we be friends again? Just stirring up a little debate is all :)

L-girl said...

Imp Strump, nicely said!

I like to think that the Christmas-New Years megaholiday has the potential to become a post-modern multi-cultural celebration of nothing in particular.

It's tied in to the birth of a man who some people call "the saviour", around whom a major world religion has been constructed - a religion that has been used as an excuse for the oppression and slaughter of untold millions. A religion that many of us have no part of! So for many people, Christmas can't just become neutral.

However, if it came and went as quickly and quietly (relatively speaking) as Halloween or Thanksgiving, I wouldn't have such a problem with it.

L-girl said...

Ryan, we are friends, but I found what you wrote in your first comment offensive.

Why should I keep my religion out of the public sphere? It's a part of who I am, indeed the very core of who I am.

*Your* expression of your self and your faith is not at issue here. I would never deny anyone's right to express their religious beliefs.

Our signs read "God is Here for Everyone." Is that an inappropriate public display of the religious?

Are you seriously asking that? Is anyone questioning your right to do that?

To say "it should be out of sight" essentially says I can't express my cultural identity nor the language of it in public.

Who do you imagine is telling you that?

But to impose your cultural identity on the general populace, through the town square (as it were), is not your right.

In fact, I revel in the expression of faith where I work at the University when the Muslim Students Association sings their prayers aloud on Fridays. It doesn't hurt me, doesn't make me feel like I'm under attack, even as a person of a different faith.

Bully for you. You think if something doesn't offend *you*, that makes it ok?

You're a religious person, so expression of religious belief doesn't offend you.

Is this something that would also offend you?

Where are the prayers said? Are they said in a general classroom with non-Muslim students? If so, it's completely inappropriate. The Muslim students should be free to pray in their own venues. No prayers should be recited in a secular classroom.

Do you only care about giving offense to religious people? Don't the feelings and comfort levels of people without religion matter to you?

I find your analogy about the war resisters so bizarre and irrelevant I don't know how to respond. I feel you must be purposely misconstruing what I'm saying. I'll keep thinking about it and try to come up with a response.

Meanwhile, anyone else reading, feel free to field that one!

L-girl said...

deep meaning to the holiday (ie good will towards humanity)

This is the deep meaning of the holiday *to you*. Clearly not all Christians share your beliefs.

Ryan said...

There are a lot of things that can be inherently offensive, if you use that line of thinking, though. Should Karl Marx and his theories inherently be excluded from the public because they have been used to justify the very same mass slaughter that state-Christianity has done? Should Germans avoid pride in their ethnic identity because of the acts of the German state? Chauvinism is also a similar case, but should masculinity or maleness be expressed in public?

Christendom is different from Christianity. A post-modernist approach to multi-culturalism would suggest that a multiplicity of meanings in multiple stories would not only apply to various groups, but also the groups within the groups themselves. No narrative has one side. Christianity means--and has always meant--different things to different people. Similarly, expressions of Christianity have been used in a multitude of ways. For example, American Evangelicals were some of the most vociferous opponents of slavery. Protestant Christians in Canada were some of the most staunchest advocates for the welfare state and social justice. They all used the language of Christianity to do so, even though a large amount of people within the country had been hurt in some way or another by "it". There is no one homogeneous Christianity any more than there is a homogeneous Chinese identity, or homogeneous womanhood.

That is not to say that these faiths should not come to terms with the various oppressive state religions that have been spawned. But that doesn't change the meaning for many people, nor the importance in their lives.

Ryan said...

Okay, I think we are the "two ships passing in the night" that know they are passing but have no idea why. I don't think either of us has any idea what the core of this argument is.

I'm saying that I think religious symbols and expressions should be taken in much the same way as one would take all other cultural expressions through the lens of multiculturalism. I'm not talking about stores etc.--I don't think institutions as such (public or private) should be expressing religious anything (or ideological anything) at all, (though I think its fine for Mom & Pop stores because they are actual people). But I don't think people should be inherently offended at things such as religious expression as long as the intent of the expression is not to exert control or evangelize on the individual.

Alex said...

I've been thinking about your hating Christmas - and there's something you're missing which might make you change your mind.

Hating Christmas means that you also hate gratuitous amounts of chocolate being available to you for 30 days. If you hate that, well then L-girl, we're just on two different planets then.

Merry Chocolate to all and to all a good night!

impudent strumpet said...

Now that I think about it some more, the problem for me as someone who left the church is that anything halfway decent I do around this time of year gets attributed to xmas.

I donate to a food bank or a toy drive, people think "YAY, Christmas spirit!" or, worse, "YAY, Christian charity!" even though I give to every food drive that crosses my path and look forward to any excuse to buy toys.

I wear a red shirt, people comment on how festive I look even though it's my most flattering colour and I wear it year round.

I do anonymous random acts of kindness for my birthday like you do, the recipients may well be thinking "Look, a Christmas miracle!"

I buy anything, anything at all, it goes in the retailer's "Holiday sales" column.

I go to the family thing because all my cousins will be there and they're among the most interesting people I know, the grownups are thinking "See, THIS is what Christmas is about, family being together!"

If I tip my supers on New Years like everyone is telling me to, they're still going to be subconsciously crediting it to xmas under the heading "Holiday tips".

I left this religion very deliberately, I don't want it getting credit for every halfway decent thing I do between October 30 and January 6. It's like if you're estranged from your abusive parents, and every time you do something halfway decent someone comments on what good parents they must be.

L-girl said...

There are a lot of things that can be inherently offensive, if you use that line of thinking, though. Should Karl Marx and his theories inherently be excluded from the public because they have been used to justify the very same mass slaughter that state-Christianity has done?

You're playing bait and switch here. I brought up slaughter and oppression in response to a comment. I was referring to why many of us cannot see a Christian holiday as neutral or benign. I was not suggesting expressions of Christianity be "excluded".

Should Karl Marx and his theories inherently be excluded from the public because they have been used to justify the very same mass slaughter that state-Christianity has done?

Are we in any danger of Marxism even being visible in mainstream society, let alone pushed down our throats the way Christmas is?

Can you not understand this has a lot to do with degree? The ubiquity of a Christian holiday to non-Christians with whom you share this society feels, to many of us, oppressive.

Is there nothing in your life that might cause you to empathize with how it feels to be a minority within a majority culture?

That's what this is about.

Christianity means--and has always meant--different things to different people.

Obviously. We have no argument there, and it's completely irrelevant to my post.

But that doesn't change the meaning for many people, nor the importance in their lives.

Again, true, but irrelevant.

L-girl said...

I don't think either of us has any idea what the core of this argument is.

There is no argument.

I posted that I hate Christmas. You don't think I should, and you have all kinds of reasons why I shouldn't.

But I'm not interested.

L-girl said...

Hating Christmas means that you also hate gratuitous amounts of chocolate being available to you for 30 days.

I guess you mean at your workplace or something? I don't have gratuitous amounts of chocolate available to me, and I'm glad of it. Sorry.

L-girl said...

But I don't think people should be inherently offended at things such as religious expression as long as the intent of the expression is not to exert control or evangelize on the individual.

If you don't think the ubiquity and the quantity of Christmas displays, music, talk, cards, gifts, decorations, food and assumptions (see Imp Strump's comment, above) exerts control on the individual, or attempts to, your empathy muscles are in need of a workout.

Try to imagine what it would feel like for you, a Christian, to live in the equivalent world of Judaism. Pervasive and ubiquitous Yom Kippur or Rosh Hashanah, not in addition to, but instead of, the Christmas all around us.

Do you think you'd appreciate it? Do you think you might ever find it grating or annoying?

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

I wrote this last year (a bit of relevant background is that I don't celebrate Christmas, by which I mean that I don't give or receive presents, I don't have or attend parties, I don't go to family gatherings during that time, I don't eat special food, the whole works):

You know what I've realized this year? I love Christmastime.

Not for Christmastime, mind--for the lack of it. Or more specifically, for the lack of anything. See, it's the only time of the year that practically everybody in the whole world has obligations, which means that because I'm opting out, I have absolutely none. It's hard to describe what this feels like, but it's a sort of incredible sense of peace and quiet, right down to my bones. Like the Anti-Stress. I value it incredibly. If Christmas somehow magically got skipped some year, I would miss it like crazy.

And I look at all the Scrooges of the season--you know, the ones who are constantly complaining about rampant commercialism and overcommitment and presents they don't really want and parties they don't feel like attending--and I just feel sad for them. I want to take them all under my wing and whisper at them about the sheer joy of just...stopping.

L-girl said...

I/P, that sounds nice. I don't have that in my life. Perhaps I would like it if I did, I don't know.

My dislike of what I see during Christmas doesn't mean I'm a scrooge, which generally means being miserly and personally ungenerous.

Anonymous said...

I've been disgusted Christmas for some years now and I'm a Christian, also. Why do I dislike Christmas because it's fake and has nothing to do with New Testament Christianity whatsoever. Just read the book of Acts in the New Testament and you'll see that the early Christians sold everything that they had and shared their goods and were very non materialistic.

M@ said...

I too felt the Xmas frustration early this year. I think it was when I heard a seasonal song in the first week of November. Ugh.

To quench the incredible commercial thirst for Christmas muzak, they've had to come up with millions of variations on many songs that were pretty awful to begin with. This is the worst thing for me. And when I hear Winter Wonderland I'm ready to scream by now.

I probably don't hate it as much as you do, but boy do I sympathise.

A commercial to buy Anne Murray singing "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" was on a TV in the next room as I was writing this. Yep, I hate Christmas.

M@ said...

By the way, I wonder what would happen if we took a secular holiday -- say, May Day or Labour Day -- and demanded that all religions include it in their calendars. That seems to me to be about equal with demanding everyone enjoy Christmas because hey, it's pretty much secular now.

L-girl said...

[reposted to correct strange paste/typo]

See, it's the only time of the year that practically everybody in the whole world has obligations, which means that because I'm opting out, I have absolutely none.

Oh wait, I just got what you mean by this. I do have that to an extent. So many people are so consumed this time of year, so frantically busy, and I'm not, and that is nice.

But the people closest to me also don't celebrate Christmas (or do very minimally), so I don't notice the difference as much as others might.

That is a nice payoff, I agree.

But I'd trade it in a heartbeat for all the rest to stop!

L-girl said...

By the way, I wonder what would happen if we took a secular holiday -- say, May Day or Labour Day -- and demanded that all religions include it in their calendars.

Excellent!

hhw said...

Yes.

I am driven to distraction by the general and diverse failures, in scales large and small, of the separation of church and state in the US.

hhw said...

oops -- which separation, of course, is not quite what you were talking about in your post. I meant that in addition to agreeing with what you wrote, I'm also driven to distraction, etc. etc.

L-girl said...

Hhw, it is a large part of what I'm talking about. If there was adequate separation of church and state, much of this would be resolved.

In the US, the symbol for me has always been the Xmas tree on the White House lawn. That was, for me, the ultimate expression of how non-Christians are not totally accepted.

It drives me to distraction as well.

Andrea said...

I look at all my friends and family freaking out about the money they have to spend and the number of present they need to get all on one paycheque and I am so happy I am one of those freaks that gets all her christmas shopping done before Novemeber is even over. I even had them wrapped.
Then I can sit back relax and watch everyone go nuts. Love it.
I also make every hint possible to have all christmas gatherings at someone elses house. Stay out of mine. Ugh the stress.
I make an effort for my young daughter but I stress loudly to the granparents one present and one present only. I did all my christmas shopping this year at World vision. No one in my family actually needs anything any way.

Anonymous said...

(It is late and I am rambly, so my apologies in advance if this is incoherent)

>What is inherently wrong with celebrating the religious in public?

It sends the message to people who don't subscribe to that religion that they are unwelcome, less important, than the majority.


So there shouldn't ever be any evidence of anything one may be left out of?

A few years back I visited some relatives (in Indonesia) who lived next door to a mosque and that first call to prayer happens before sunrise, over loudspeakers which broadcast it to the entire neighbourhood. It startled me out of my sleep that first night. After that I didn't notice it though. But I will probably sleep through Armageddon. :)

How does it hurt me?? How does it hurt me to live every day in a world that says THIS IS THE WAY THINGS ARE, AND YOU ARE DIFFERENT, SO FUCK YOU?

I am a Canadian born of Asian immigrants and don't often see Asians reflected in the media or industry or the government. Essentially we are ruled by old white people, 365 days a year. But then again, Toronto was a very very WASP-y place as recently as 35 years ago. But demographics are changing very quickly. There are a few Catholic high schools in Toronto where the majority of students are non-Christian. (Besides being just plain weird, it's kind of bizarre logistically for those schools. But I digress.)

I do have some angst regarding lack of representation but I don't feel that it's due to any malice from the majority and I can see that things are changing, so I can't get much hate up over it. So Xmas-wise, it may be "the way things are", but ways do change. At the very least there would be an increased awareness that not everyone is into Christmas. And I highly doubt people are celebrating Christmas as a deliberate Fuck You to anyone.

But yes, advertising can be annoying. Consumerism is annoying. Repetitive anything is annoying. Some people are annoying. These are truths.

On a somewhat related note... a lifetime ago, I had a basketball coach who would use "Happy Easter" or "Merry Christmas" in place of "Fuck You". The team would say that to each other all year long, and there'd be much giggling when the actual holidays came around. :)

Alex said...

For the love of Coffee Crisp!!

I'm not Christian either - but I do have an Advent calendar so I can get a piece of chocolate dolled out to me like I was some sort of methadone addict.

L-girl said...

I look at all my friends and family freaking out about the money they have to spend and the number of present they need to get all on one paycheque and I am so happy I am one of those freaks that gets all her christmas shopping done before Novemeber is even over. I even had them wrapped.
Then I can sit back relax and watch everyone go nuts. Love it.


That's cool! You're a woman after my own heart - super organized.

But imagine how I feel, not doing any of it!

L-girl said...

So there shouldn't ever be any evidence of anything one may be left out of?

I repeat: a matter of degree. I find the overwhelming presence of Christmas, both consumerist Christmas and religious Christmas, very trying. And very tiring.

And I highly doubt people are celebrating Christmas as a deliberate Fuck You to anyone.

I didn't say and wasn't implying it was deliberate. In fact, it's the opposite - it's thoughtless. It's not deliberately taking into account the sensibilities of people who are not the majority.

L-girl said...

Perhaps readers are confused by the title of this post. I hate Christmas doesn't mean I hate the day on the calendar called Christmas, or I hate that other people celebrate Christmas, or I hate that something called Christmas exists.

You'll want to read the post past the title. "I hate that this Christian holiday is plastered all over our supposedly secular world."

As Redsock pointed out above, one only needs to walk outside one's own home to get what I'm talking about.

Amy said...

Well, I am late joining in, but let me join the choir of those who find it very uncomfortable to be surrounded---drowned--by Christmas every year. I accept that my neighbors all have wreaths and trees, and I actually think they look beautiful. I love to see the trees shining through windows and the houses which are (tastefully) decorated.

But when the decorations, music, etc., appear in places that are part of my space, then I get offended. This year the college where I work placed large wreaths on the gates where I drive through to get to work each day. Every time I drive through, those wreaths scream at me, "Jew, go home. You don't belong here." Now when I raise this with my Christian colleagues, which I do, they all say, "Those aren't CHRISTMAS decorations; they are seasonal," or as Laura said, "Christmas is just secularized anyway." Bah, humbug! I don't need to repeat why that just is bullshit.

And placing a menorah or a dreidel somewhere to "balance" Chanukah with Christmas does NOT help. Chanukah is NOT the Jewish Christmas, and the token throwaway symbol does NOTHING to make me feel more comfortable. It just feels insulting.

So yes, I think religion belongs only in private places---homes and the places of worship or schools or institutions that follow that particular faith. I don't want to hear political candidates talking about God or faith; I don't want a religious prayer at public events; I don't want government saying who can marry or not based on some faith-based ideas of right and wrong; same for deciding whether or not to continue a pregnancy. Let me choose how I want to practice my religion, and let others choose for themselves as well. Just get religion out of the public sphere all together.

L-girl said...

Yeah Amy!! Thank you for this eloquent and forceful comment.

Every time I drive through, those wreaths scream at me, "Jew, go home. You don't belong here."

Yes. Exactly.

richard said...

"Try to imagine what it would feel like for you, a Christian, to live in the equivalent world of Judaism. Pervasive and ubiquitous Yom Kippur or Rosh Hashanah, not in addition to, but instead of, the Christmas all around us.

Do you think you'd appreciate it? Do you think you might ever find it grating or annoying?"


No.

Tom said...

We're Atheists but also gay men who love to decorate. I know it's kind of bizarre but our tree is so beautiful.
We don't believe Christ even existed so it's certainly not celebrating him.

To those objecting to religious expressions in the public sphere. Christianity caused great harm to some of us who were lucky enough to live through the experience and de-program ourselves from the hate we were taught about ourselves. Especially in churches like the Catholic one I was forced into, the same one that this week refused to support a UN effort to decriminalize being gay. We refuse to celebrate with hypocrites and push back at religious hogwash thrust upon us.

L-girl said...

Thanks for your thoughts, Tom. Excellent!

I know it's kind of bizarre but our tree is so beautiful. We don't believe Christ even existed so it's certainly not celebrating him.

Sounds great to me. You're going back to the holiday's pagan roots - green life and light amid the darkest days of winter. Enjoy!

Mara Clarke said...

Right on, Laura! I have already had 6 arguments with people about Christmas. I kind of like some things about the season – the lights, the bustle. Growing up, I used to sing carols in the local hospitals and play Christmas Eve Mass with the music organisations I was in. But I don’t like the rampant consumerism (especially in the current economic climate) and the assumption that everyone celebrates it.

The arguments have begun something like this:

Local person (the butcher, the veg guy, people who know me in the neighbourhood):

“What are you doing for Christmas?”
“What is Father Christmas bringing [my child’s name] for Christmas?”
“How many presents does [my child’s name] have under the tree?”

I respond that we are Jewish, after which I get some variation on “Oh, but now that you have your daughter, you have to celebrate Christmas” or “But Christmas isn’t about religion” [right – it’s about buying my not yet 2 year old lots of stuff she doesn’t want much less need?].

My favourite? The person who told me I would damage my daughter by not allowing her to celebrate Christmas. I told them politely that while I have a number of deep-seated issues, none of them resulted from my non-celebration of Christmas for 36 years. I also get the “Christmas really isn’t about religion” argument and try and explain that Christmas can only be seen as non-religious to Christians. I don’t care if the Hindu family on your street celebrates Christmas – that is their choice, not mine. It doesn’t mean I will throw out holiday cards people send me, or decline an invitation to Christmas lunch at your house. But I don’t feel people have the right to accuse me of being a bad parent for raising my child Jewish and choosing not to have stockings hanging or a Christmas tree in my house. I would not suggest they “have to” celebrate Passover after having a child; why “must” I celebrate Christmas?

As for Christmas being everywhere, it starts appearing in UK stores in September – since people here get paid monthly, they put stuff out the last week of September to give people the chance to spread their spend over 3 paycheques . . .

On a separate note, as one who used to work for a food bank/food recycling programme, it used to drive me bonkers that at Christmas and Thanksgiving we had more donations and volunteers than we knew what to do with while the rest of the year we struggled to feed people.

L-girl said...

I respond that we are Jewish, after which I get some variation on "Oh, but now that you have your daughter, you have to celebrate Christmas"

This is so offensive, I don't know how I would begin to respond! I'd want to fucking strangle the person who said this to me.

My favourite? The person who told me I would damage my daughter by not allowing her to celebrate Christmas.

ARGHGHGHGH!!!

deang said...

Reading these comments has made me realize that I don't speak up enough about the fact that I don't celebrate Christmas, that I'm atheist, etc. I just had a coworker smugly point out to me that she had surreptitiously put some nativity ornaments on the workplace Christmas tree, even though explicitly religious symbols are discouraged in this government-related job. "If I'd put up a Star of David or something, they'd probably say something, but I don't think they'll say anything about this," she said sotto voce. At which point I started making fun of the stupid-looking faces on the nativity figures, none of which had a nose. "It's because mangers smell like shit," I said to her uncomprehending stare. I should have been more direct.

Amy said...

"If I'd put up a Star of David or something, they'd probably say something, but I don't think they'll say anything about this," she said sotto voce.

I am stunned. This confirms my every fear: that behind every Christmas tree at work is anti-Semitism and that behind every token menorah lies resentment and scorn.

I wish everyone who heard such a comment would speak up.

L-girl said...

Dean, it's not always easy to speak up, as you know. I came to it very gradually - and I lived in New York City! Where you are, in Texas, it's got to be so much more difficult.

You've got to choose your battles. But anytime you can be "out", it's a victory!

L-girl said...

This confirms my every fear: that behind every Christmas tree at work is anti-Semitism and that behind every token menorah lies resentment and scorn.

Whoa. Seems like a bit of paranoia there. I recognize the persecution complex, my father had it bad.

It's hard to believe that behind every Christmas tree *in Western Massachusetts* there lurks anti-Semitism. Thoughtlessness, arrogance, Christo-centrism, maybe. But anti-Semitism, resentment and scorn? Behind every tree?

Amy said...

OK, perhaps an overstatement. But that woman's comment sure was revealing, wasn't it? People would object to a Star of David, but not a manger scene: what can that be other than anti-Semitism? That pains me, so I responded emotionally. Sorry if I seem paranoid, but sometimes paranoia is justifiable.

Amy said...

Also, I limited my comments to Christmas trees at work ...meaning those in places that are public and thus where I feel excluded from the community. I was not talking about trees in private homes.

L-girl said...

No need to apologize, you're entitled to feel how you feel and express that here. I just disagree.

I don't hear that comment that way at all. In fact, reading it over and over, I just can't see any anti-Semitism in it, at all.

To me it means, "If it was a minority religious expression, it would stick out, but since it's what most people celebrate, no one will say anything."

Also I know you meant at work. I was responding to that.

impudent strumpet said...

I would totally put symbols from other religions on a xmas tree just because it seems like a vaguely subversive thing to do. Although on second thought it might be offensive to the other religions.

If I wanted to smuggle a star of David onto a xmas tree, I'd make it into an ornament that looks like it's been made by a child. When I was like 5 I always used a six-pointed star made of two triangles in my drawings and stuff (unaware of the symbolism - didn't even know there were other religions) because it was easier for me to draw than a five-pointed star.

Now I want to smuggle stuff onto xmas trees. Unfortunately all the trees I have access to have matchy matchy ornaments, or are family trees that I'm allowed to put stuff on already.