12.25.2010

how do i hate christmas, let me count the ways

It appears that the tone of this post may be more angry and emotional than I intended. I wish everyone who celebrates Christmas a joyous day. I'm not ranting or raving, merely expressing my thoughts on this holiday's unique place in our world.

* * * *

I hate seeing consumer capitalism on overdrive.

I hate that a Christian holiday is a national holiday in nation where Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Sikhs, atheists, Shintos and pagans - and whoever else - are supposed to be equally welcome.

I hate being told that Christmas is no longer a Christian holiday, that it's now a secular holiday. I don't know if that's wishful thinking or amnesia or maybe guilt, but as far as I'm concerned, it's bullshit.

I hate the assumption I need to substitute some other holiday or tradition for this holiday that I don't celebrate. I know people mean well, but asking me what I celebrate instead of Christmas makes as much sense as asking my Christian neighbours what they do instead of Rosh Ha'shana.

I hate being asked "Did you have a nice Christmas?". And when I answer, "I don't celebrate Christmas, but I had a nice winter break, thanks," I hate being told, "I don't mean the holiday, I just meant the whole winter holiday season." If you meant how was my winter break, why didn't you say so?

I hate hearing about other people's Christmas shopping.

I hate being asked if I've finished my Christmas shopping.

I hate hearing Christmas muzak.

I hate people remembering food banks and other charities once a year.

During the last US presidential election, many of my Canadian friends were sick of hearing about the campaign for so long, disgusted by the volume and the omnipresence. That's how I feel about Christmas. It wouldn't be so bad if you could just tone it down. Just go have your holiday. Stop expecting everyone else to care.

I know there's no war on Christmas, only the rantings of aggrieved entitlement, people so accustomed to wielding all the power and holding all the cards that the slightest murmur of the minority viewpoint causes them to claim endangered species status. If there were a war on Christmas, I'd think about signing up.

To everyone who is celebrating today, have a happy day. Could you be a little quieter next year?

41 comments:

Amy said...

I don't hate Christmas the way you do. I like the lights, the trees, and much of the music (though do they really have to start playing it at Thanksgiving???).

BUT otherwise, I completely agree with what you said in terms of principle, commercialism, and overdoing it.

I resent that our entire academic calendar is built around Christmas. We could start our semester in September, instead of mid-August, and have a break in January, instead of ending classes a week after Thanksgiving break in order to squeeze in exams in time for Christmas. I also resent that no one cares that all the other religion's holidays are completely ignored on the academic calendar.

Someone in the hair salon yesterday asked me if my daughters had come home for Christmas yet. When I responded by saying, "No, we don't celebrate Christmas," she looked at me as if I had three heads (or horns).

I also resent that I am supposed to get stupid, meaningless gifts that no one really wants just to be a good person this time of year. I don't mind tipping the paper deliverer, the letter carrier, etc., but why at Christmas? Why not September? June?

Anyway, I hear you. I just try not to get too emotional about it! We live in a Christian society, as we hear all the time from the Christian right, and I guess we have to suck it up to some extent. But I still resent the hell out of it at times.

Oh, and have a good winter break!

laura k (aka L-girl) said...

I like the lights and the trees, too. :)

But these negative feelings far outweigh the enjoyment.

I also don't get emotional over it, not at all. I'm expressing my thoughts here, but I don't walk around in a snit about it. I'm just home, reading, enjoying my break.

Amy said...

OK, I had this image of you ranting and raving! "Hate" for me is very emotional, so I tend to use it for things like racists, homophobia, Fox New, bananas, and ARod. :) I tend to use words like "resent" or even "dislike" for things like Christmas, flying, the Yankees, and beets. :)

Hey, at least you get the day off, right?

laura k (aka L-girl) said...

Beets :)

Your comment made me think the tone of this post is wrong - making it seem as if I'm ranting when I'm not. But I'm not sure what to do about that.

Re day off, in Canada it's even better: two paid days off, because of Boxing Day. But if I ran the world, we wouldn't need religious holidays to get paid time off and tip our letter carriers! :)

laura k (aka L-girl) said...

I added a disclaimer.

laura k (aka L-girl) said...

racists, homophobia, Fox New, bananas, and ARod

Jon Miller!!

James said...

Speaking of aggrieved entitlement...

Amy said...

LOL re Jon Miller! I hate his voice, for sure. Not sure I hate the man though, since I know nothing about him. But I sure did hate hearing him announce games!

I am not sure the word "hate" has the same connotation for most people. Others may not see it as having that strong an emotional overtone and may not have seen you as ranting and raving! Hate is just one of those words my mother used to tell us not to use unless we really meant it. I tend to use it far too much anyway. But I am an emotional person, what can I say!

John F said...

But, but...Baby Jebus was born so people could buy me plastic shit made by maltreated Chinese workers! You GRINCH!

laura k (aka L-girl) said...

Speaking of aggrieved entitlement...

OMG, can that be real??? I suppose the best of these kinds of exchanges will always stretch the limits of credibility.

James said...

There's always some debate as to whether things like "Not Always Right" or "Overheard in NYC" are real or not... Either way, it's not unrealistic. :)

johngoldfine said...

Like Elena Kagan, we expect to spend our Christmas at a movie and a Chinese restaurant. She, however, probably doesn't feel guilty every second she's gone that she's left six unhappy dogs at home....

johngoldfine said...

Now, what the heck is the problem with beets, laura k? How can you equate the horrors of Xmas to an innocent beet, smiling up at you and hoping for a dollop of sour cream?

laura k (aka L-girl) said...

we expect to spend our Christmas at a movie and a Chinese restaurant

It is the standard Jewish Xmas. We've done it every year ourselves.

This year we're skipping the Chinese food, though - because we aren't in the mood for crowds. Unlike in NYC, though, the crowds here aren't Jewish people - but Chinese folks! Dim Sum in Mississauga - packed! We're holed up at home with books and DVDs.

laura k (aka L-girl) said...

I love beets. I eat them every chance I get.

I was laughing at Amy including them on her list.

allan said...

Tourist: “Canada isn’t outside the United States!”

Me: “And what makes you think that, ma’am?”

Tourist: “Because there’s no water between the two places! Its one big hunk of land!”

***

johngoldfine said...

Whoops, sorry, redirect my beets comment to the Poster Formerly Known As Amy And Soon To Be Known As--?

I guess we won't be inviting her over for borsht anytime soon.

Amy said...

We also will be going to a movie (The Fighter, I think---what is everyone else seeing?) and then out for Asian food---I can't say Chinese because we tend to eat off the Japanese side of their menu---sushi---although we often have cold sesame noodles and one Chinese type dish also. So Asian.

Beets---too many memories of institutional beets from school and camp.

But I HATE bananas. That is a real passion!

As for my soon-to-be new name...I think it will be Catcherfan, as catchers have been my favorite players going back to the 1968 Mets (Jerry Grote) through Fisk and then Varitek. But no final decision has been made.

Chrystal Ocean said...

Thank you for this post.

Have felt the oppression of December celebrants since I was a child. Worst time of year for me, and yet those like me in the minority are expected simply to shut up and let the others merrily remain oblivious. Right now, am getting flak on Facebook simply for saying what I feel.

johngoldfine said...

Amy:

Great Minds Think Alike (Except About Beets & Bananas) Dept.: We're seeing 'The Fighter' too! 'The King's Speech' would have been our preference, but Bangor is not exactly a hotbed of art & indie films....

Speaking of catchers: we used to bowl at Sammy White's in Brighton when I was a lad. We always hoped for an autograph or at least a glimpse of SW, but no such luck....

Phil said...

You've expressed my sentiments very well, laura k. Thank you!

mx5050 said...

Found an interesting book on this very topic:

"Unplug the Christmas Machine: A Complete Guide to Putting Love and Joy Back into the Season" by Jo Robinson.

You can skim the book here:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0688109616?tag=apture-20

Amy said...

John, I am afraid I don't know Sammy White or his bowling alley. I grew up in metro NY and did not get to Boston until the summer of 1975. I bowled at Elmsford Lanes and White Plains Bowling Alley, however. No catchers there, however. Just a lot of gutter balls! :)

laura k (aka L-girl) said...

Phil and Chrystal, thank you much.

Amy, I believe that no matter what name you give yourself, you will have a difficult time remaining anonymous. :)

johngoldfine said...

Amy--Sammy White was THE Red Sox catcher of the 50s! Boston area so candlepin bowling.

laura k (aka L-girl) said...

Found an interesting book on this very topic:

"Unplug the Christmas Machine: A Complete Guide to Putting Love and Joy Back into the Season" by Jo Robinson.


Mx5050, I thank you for the book title, and if it works for you, that's great - but I think you have misread my post. I'm not decrying the commercialization of Christmas.

There's plenty of love and joy in my life. "The season" is winter.

allan said...

As for my soon-to-be new name...

Well, now that one is ruined, as you have linked it to your current name!

laura k (aka L-girl) said...

To the commenter whose post I just rejected: your disagreement is welcome, your insults are not. We don't call each other names around here, even when we disagree.

Have a nice day and a lovely Christmas.

allan said...

Now be a nice chap ...

(etc etc etc)

laura k (aka L-girl) said...

Now be a nice chap ...

That's a JoS joke. Would you like to fill in the ... for wmtc?

allan said...

No.

(I would not want to insult anyone!)

laura k (aka L-girl) said...

At the risk of dead-horsing this, the simple phrase "to each her own" comes to mind. Part of the purpose of blogging is to get things off your chest. If you are not bothered by the same thing as the blogger, what of it? Leaving a comment just to insult the blogger... why bother?

laura k (aka L-girl) said...

The same commenter is now RAVING IN ALL CAPS.

Raving Commenter, please see comment policy, above. Thank you and goodbye.

Amy said...

Yes, I have too big a mouth to stay truly anonymous. Somehow details all spill out, especially in the heat of a good game. But... at least it will be somewhat less obvious. Maybe. Or maybe I will just forget the whole thing.

Some Person said...

@allan: I would that this tourist and my fellow USians felt the same way about Mexico. Though the inherent imperialism would be troubling, I would find it more welcome than the opposing sentiment, which provides cheap justification for denying the human rights of an entire ethnic group. Neither extreme would be optimal, though.

For Christmas alternatives (if anyone wants yet another), may I suggest Apartmentmas?

http://www.somethingawful.com/d/news/finally-an-alternative.php

laura k (aka L-girl) said...

Amy, I have some thoughts about the whole name-change thing, but I'd rather email you. I'll be in touch in the next day or so. I hope the movie was good!

Amy said...

I will await your email.

The movie was very good. Great acting by Christian Bale and Mark Wahlberg.

Then we watched The Town when we got home (after the sushi, etc.), which was also quite good and had some great shots of Fenway to boot!

johngoldfine said...

Hey Amy--I really liked 'The Fighter' too--Christian Bale stole every scene unless Melissa Leo was on screen giving everyone a msster class. Boyoboy, good as Wahlberg and Adams were, those other two...whew!

I was less crazy about 'The Town,' except for whatsisname, Ben Affleck's buddy, who chewed up the scenery and could have shown Affleck the difference between acting and owning the character, if Affleck were capable of absorbing much of anything.

Somewhere someone is working on a paper about good, bad, and ridiculous Boston accents as portrayed in the movies. Mystic River, Shutter Island were too over the top, but 'The Fighter' accents were spot on for my ear.

Then we did a Chinese buffet--quick, cheap, and passably okay, and got home before the dogs melted down, so it was Dec 25 the way I want it, though generally I'm in complete agreement with Laura K's original post.

M. Yass said...

Ugh, I hear ya. What gets me about this goddamned holiday are all of the false expectations. You know, everything is supposed to be wonderful, everybody is seeing family they love, it's all Kodak moments, blah blah blah. Those of us in touch with reality know that it's everything but.

So, to you and yours, I give my best wishes:

MFC!

M. Yass said...

I agree with you that this season gets under my skin. I really appreciate people like you who are refreshingly honest. I mean, really: Who in their right mind would (1) go into debt to (2) travel long distances to (3) give things to (4) people they don't like (5) that the people don't want? But many of us do because it's all supposed to happy Kodak moments, blah blah blah ad nauseam.

So, to you and yours, I say this: MFC!

Amy said...

John, we enjoyed both movies though the double whammy of seeing them on the same day has left the two somewhat blurred, even though the stories are so different. Somehow the impressions of Boston/Lowell are so similar----such tough, gritty, and rough people.

I actually thought Affleck was quite effective in The Town, though his co-star was even better. And even though it wasn't much of an acting role for Jon Hamm, I was happy just to see his face on the large screen! :)

But the mother and the sisters in The Fighter were just too much! Almost too over the top in some ways, but probably closer to reality than I would imagine.

And yes, we enjoyed our traditional Christmas with sushi and vegetarian hot and sour soup, sesame noodles, and General Tso's tofu. No tree, no presents, and no false levity!