12.23.2011

annual i hate christmas post: top ten things i hate about christmas

It's a wmtc tradition: my annual I Hate Christmas post. This year, it's a continuation of what we started here. Feel free to post your list, too, of any length. Hate only, please. If you love Christmas, go off and enjoy it.

10. "Merry Christmas"

9. "It's A Wonderful Life"

8. Ads where people are dressed up as Santa Claus

7. Inane advertising for inane "gift ideas", i.e. products that no one needs and will likely never use

6. Ignorant people bemoaning the loss of traditional Christmas, not realizing that most of these traditions are pagan

5. All talk about whether there will or won't be "a white Christmas"

4. Being forced to listen to my co-workers recite what they are buying for each person on their list

3. People asking me, "Are you ready Christmas?"

2. Christmas muzak - everyfuckingwhere.

1. The fact that a religious holiday has become a universal holiday that we're all supposed to care about.

29 comments:

Zaruyache said...

Shun the non-believer! Shuuun! Sh-shuuuuuun! Shun the humbug!

allan said...

The shitty Christmas music playing everywhere is beyond obnoxious. And every store seems to be in some sort of contest to play the shittiest music they can find. Are there people who actually like hearing this shit when they go into a store?

impudent strumpet said...

Today Loud Co-worker wished me a merry christmas as he was leaving the office. OK, whatever. I say "Thanks, you too." Then he asks me if Quiet Co-worker is Jewish. I say I seriously doubt it, but I'm not certain. Loud Co-worker says "I'll wish him a Happy Holidays, just in case."

So it seems that not celebrating xmas isn't enough to get out of the "Merry Christmas", you have to be suspected of actively celebrating something else.

(And the irony is, I always thought if anyone in the office would be mistaken for Jewish it's me. Even one of those Hanukkah bus guys mistook me for Jewish the other day.)

laura k said...

So it seems that not celebrating xmas isn't enough to get out of the "Merry Christmas", you have to be suspected of actively celebrating something else.

Right. Jews and Muslims don't celebrate Christmas, but all the normal people do.

At the library, someone asked me, "What are you cooking for Christmas?" (Huh?) I said, "Nothing, I don't celebrate Christmas," full stop. I didn't offer any explanation - that was a first for me.

She said, "Really? You don't celebrate Christmas?"

Me: Nope.

She: You're not Christian?

Me: No, I'm not.

This went around 2 or 3 more times.

She's a very nice person, not very bright. She seemed unable to get her mind around this.

sassy said...

I so agree with your number 6. Seems to now be a part of Christmas tradition for some folks that they must WHINE that their "special" day is being taken away from them.

To this I add, the stores putting Christmas stuff out almost before summer is over.

Oh yes, one more thing, expectations that I will be delighted to attend one gathering after another in the span of a few days. It's not that I don't enjoy the company of friends and family - I really do, but find it annoying when I am expected to rush from one event to another with no down time in between.

laura k said...

their "special" day is being taken away from them

...when it couldn't BE any more omnipresent!!

Sassy, maybe work on saying no. Say no to one this year, it will feel so good, you'll want to say no to four next year! :)

johngoldfine said...

Working off what Impudent Strumpet says: Someone at work says 'Merry Christmas' to me. I reply without enthusiasm, 'Merry Christmas.' Then Someone gets a clue and says, obviously apologetic and embarrassed, 'I mean, "Happy holidays."' I reply, 'Yup.'

But in my head the tape starts running (and I would just as soon not hear it again): 'You stupid simp! Do I look like I give a shit about Christmas? Haven't ten years of dealing with me clued you in yet that I don't celebrate holidays, don't take time off for them, don't dress for them, don't eat their special foods, don't send cards? Can't you see that I'm an atheistical, rootless, cosmopolitan Jew, full of nothing but sneers for the tannenbaum and scorn for Santa?'

I also hate being accused jocularly (but with an edge behind the smile) of being a 'Scrooge' or a 'Grinch.' My dear accusatory acquaintances: you would not believe the truth--what you see as sour Grinchiness is but the tip of an iceberg, a drop in the vast Pacific of my indifference to Christmas, Hannukah, mass celebrations generally (as opposed to private, self-invented days of anniversary or jubilee.)

If I may, here's what I do like about Christmas: finding myself at the movies and the Chinese restaurant Dec. 25 with a bunch of other people equally indifferent, equally avoiding the sentimentality and kitsch. Or, alternatively, finding myself alone with wife and dogs eating our traditional Xmas dinner of lovingly-prepared cold cuts and cheese on Jewish rye.

laura k said...

I also hate being accused jocularly (but with an edge behind the smile) of being a 'Scrooge' or a 'Grinch.'

ME TOO. I fucking hate it. I'm not a cartoon character.

I also used to really enjoy our traditional New York City Christmas of Chinese food and a movie.

We changed that to local dim sum for a while, which was great, but SO crowded, a mob scene. Now we just hide at home.

laura k said...

And coming off what John said, I also hate that Happy Hanukah has become, for many people, the Jewish equivalent of Christmas. It is not.

American Jews, not wanting their children to feel left out on Christmas, started using the coincidence of dates that way. And towns and cities, imagining it was more inclusive, started putting up menorahs next to Santa displays.

But Hanukah has nothing to do with Christmas. There is no Jewish equivalent, but if there were, in terms of importance, it would be Yom Kippur and Rosh Ha'shonah.

The other Jewish folks at wmtc may disagree - this is just my take, of course.

johngoldfine said...

The thing I hate most about Christmas: people who hate Christmas are in our way as locked into Christmas as people who love it--two sides of the same coin. It's inescapable, like the public music feed looping 'Little Drummer Boy.'

Maybe that's what's most hateful: knowing that we can dance or we can refuse to dance, but we're stuck in the ballroom, whichever choice we make.

johngoldfine said...

Here's a twist on Laura's point about the non-alignment of Christmas and Hannukah--there is one supremely important Christian holiday, far more important than Christmas, that is intimately connected to Judaism, and that, of course, is the Easter/Passover link.

Fundamentalist, or otherwise sentimental, Christians love playing at celebrating a seder--but if Christianity means anything, surely it means that the seder symbolism has been forever subsumed in and transmuted by the symbology of the Last Supper.

I don't understand this stuff at all.

laura k said...

I understand the Passover/Easter connection, but I didn't know that fundies like seders. What with the Christ-killing and the drinking Xian baby blood and all.

laura k said...

Ah, for the Christmas that was. Nostalgia ain't what it used to be.

johngoldfine said...

Here's a taste:

http://heartofwisdom.com/blog/our-christ-focused-passover-seder/

Or:

http://www.peopleoffaith.com/passover-seder.htm

My wife, the birthright Quaker, has several times been invited to these things by Christians misled by her last name into thinking she has some Jewish insights into the seder.

laura k said...

Yikes. That's disgusting.

Thanks, John. I had no idea.

laura k said...

A Christmas message from everyone's favourite troll:

Merry christmas christ-killer. And its mum not mom your in canada now.

Not real big on punctuation, our lovely troll.

DavidHeap said...

My list would include #2 for at least the 5 top spots: the "festive" muzak is nothing short of ghastly. Like Allan, I think it has to offend a lot of people who (sometimes) believe or celebrate (at least some) aspects of Christmas. I suspect if serious market research were done, malls would discover that people would be happier to go and shop to almost any other soundtrack, and a non-negligeable portion of the the shopping public stays away from stores at this time of year specifically because of the schlocky muzak.


For #11. would be sleigh-bells, on anything (except perhaps on genuine sleigh while actually sliding on snow if there happens to be any, and even then for a very limited time only).

#12. is a variant of #6 I suppose, but those "Keep the Christ in Christmas" and "It is OK to wish me a Merry Christmas" messages on buttons etc. really get to me.

I will wish (or not wish) you whatever the f*ck I please, thank you very much. I usually stick with "happy solstice" until Dec. 21 or 22, then move to Happy New year or maybe happy holidays.
If forced to make seasonal small talk (as happens so often at this time of the year), I try to keep it neutral e.g. "Are you getting away or doing anything during the break?", i.e. recognizing that we have some time off and people might have plans. If you want to tell me about family celebrations, that is fine; if you want to tell me about videos and take-out, also cool.

laura k said...

If forced to make seasonal small talk (as happens so often at this time of the year), I try to keep it neutral e.g. "Are you getting away or doing anything during the break?", i.e. recognizing that we have some time off and people might have plans. If you want to tell me about family celebrations, that is fine; if you want to tell me about videos and take-out, also cool.

Oh yeah, I agree. Many friends ask me, "What are you doing for your winter break?" or "Are you going anywhere over the holidays?" That's grand, and entirely different than, "Have you finished all your Christmas shopping?" !!

DavidHeap said...

The ghastly seasonal muzak is particularly insidious for anyone susceptible to ear worms. Even though I avoid malls and other muzak-infested spaces at this time of the year (and am very careful when I turn on the radio), even a short exposure can leave me involuntarily humming or whistling one of those goddam tunes for hours afterwards.

My personal antidote for years has been Tom Lehrer's Christmas Carol -- his attempt to capture the true, commercial spirit of Christmas. Decades old, but like a lot of Lehrer's material, never goes out of style (alas). Also a catchy tune that was set down in my impressionable young memory as a child, so it is always effective in obliterating whatever schlocky ear-worms manage to creep in (though repeated applications are sometimes necessary).
In a similar vein (though I have yet to learn the song), the incomparable David Rovics (who has many great songs which I recommend, on topics from Bradley Manning to the Mavi Marmara, and much more) recently sent his most new seasonal offering If I hear another Chrismas Song I think I'm gonna puke (with the note "this is not a children's song and it is not radio-friendly" but based on my personal history, I would say, depnds on the kids...)

laura k said...

I am extremely, incredibly susceptible to ear worms, although I call simply call them "I can't get this out of my head," because the image of an ear worm is nauseates me. But I realize that's the expression most people use. (Ewwww.)

I also avoid malls this time of year (and at all times), but any shopping - Canadian Tire, Ikea, a cup of cofee, anything - is hazardous.

On a very brief drive, I forgot to bring a CD, turned on Jazz FM, usually a good bet, BUT NO! Schlocky xmas muzak is no better when it's performed by jazz greats (or not-so-greats). IT'S STILL CRAP.

MSS said...

Excellent. I came here looking for such a post, and you did not disappoint!

MSS said...

I've actually never known the term "ear worm", but now I will never look upon a tune being stuck in my head (which I also am quite susceptible to) the same way again.

Yes, ewwww.

laura k said...

Hi MSS, nice to see you!

laura k said...

I assume it is this MSS.

DavidHeap said...

(I agree the term ear-word is a pretty gross image, but I think that is the idea, no?).

Johngoldfine, those fundamentalist seder links are pretty scarey alright. But it is not only fundamentalist Christians: my parents' Anglican church ( Holy Trinityin downtown Toronto -- the congregation I grew up in) is anything but fundamentalist (at least, in the usual political sense): they were (and as far as I can tell, remain) peace- and social-justice oriented, active on housing for the homeless and queer-positive before the issue came up for most Christians. Our early teens confirmation classes consisted of learning about different religious traditions and thinking deeply about our faith (with the predictable result that within a year all but one of us had left the Church).

It was in this rather progressive context that they invited Reform Jews to hold and explain seders for us. It was not just about understanding the Last Supper, it was about emphasizing the links between Old and New Testament liberation theology. Rather than the fundies' view of Exodus as a metaphor for our release from the "bonds of sin", their view would've included the Exodus as a wild-cat strike by masonry workers. At this time of year they would light menora candles to honour the anti-imperial liberation struggle of the Maccabees.

I suppose one could dismiss also them as "otherwise sentimental Christians", and while I do not share my parents' faith, my point is that one can take from these traditions whatever one wants, pretty much. For some, they will reinforce messianic fundamentalism. Others will find inspiration for progressive politics (however defined) in the words of Old Testament prophets and their echos in the words of Christ the liberating carpenter. The political interpretation has little to do with whether they are "playing at seders" (isn't all religious ritual "playing" in some sense?).

More frightening for me would be the Christian fundamentalists use of the seder connection to recruit and reinforce uncoditional support for the state of Israel à la Harper, as part of their scarey "end of days" theology.

Project Maddie said...

Funnily enough none of this bothers me, even though I don't consider myself Christian - I couldn't get out of Christmas family obligations if my life depended on it and this year I actually really enjoyed it. I stopped internal eye-rolling over "Merry Christmas" years ago.

On the other hand, I usually hop on the Q and A train around January 1 because the New Year I celebrate usually falls in February. It's not that I hate January 1, I just don't go out of my way to celebrate it. Every year people ask "what are you doing for New Years" and every time I try to explain that I don't celebrate New Year January 1... it's tedious sometimes, but I don't begrudge people their well wishes. It's easiest to say "thank you" and leave it at that. It's not only easier, it's kinder than throwing people's good wishes back in their faces.

I don't disagree with about the crummy music. Do the people who object to the music find themselves spending a lot of time in stores and malls generally? Where else is it played?

laura k said...

Funnily enough none of this bothers me, even though I don't consider myself Christian

Well, different strokes. My guess is that growing up with a Xmas tradition, and choosing not to celebrate it, as you do, is different than growing up Jewish in a Christian world. Plus you're probably just more tolerant than I am. :)

Re music, I am 1000% bothered by piped in music in malls, restaurants, and other similar spaces. To me, it is intrusive noise pollution. Allan and I often ask people to turn it down, or if we're the only ones there, to turn it off.

When it changes to Xmas music, it just gets worse. Plus, places that don't usually have music playing will put on holiday music this time of year.

laura k said...

Do the people who object to the music find themselves spending a lot of time in stores and malls generally?

Oops, I didn't answer this - I answered a question you didn't ask! :)

I don't spend a lot of time in malls and stores, but I do need to buy some stuff sometimes! Malls, stores, restaurants, office buildings, doctors' offices, coffee shops - nearly any indoor public space. Except the library, thank dog!

laura k said...

Also... lest anyone get the wrong impression, I'm sure I've never thrown a greeting or well-wishes back in anyone's face. Depending on the situation, though, I might thank them and leave a bit of space for myself at the same time.