Tuesday, November 21, 2006

What The Devil Is Christmas Anyway?

Am I the only person in the world who doesn't get Christmas?
What's it for?
Wasn't it supposed to be a Christian festival many moons ago?
If it's not that anymore, what is it?
You say Happy Christmas, but if it is just another day in the calender and no longer represents anything, isn't that the same as saying Happy Tuesday?
If Christmas is just what it appears to be, some kind of celebration, what is it a celebration of? Capitalism?
I'm supposed to show you I care about you by buying you the new Pirates of the Carribean dvd? What does the gift I get you demonstrate other than my buying power? And how do I acquire the buying power I have? by being resolutely good all year? (see previous post--you can call me an old leftie if you want, but it seems to me that the higher your buying power, the more a) morally compromised or b) plain evil, you are likely to be.)
I'm sorry, I'm not trying to be clever here, but I really don't understand what Christmas is about.
Is it now the season before December 25th? all the shopping, the decorations, the adverts on tv, the zillionth replaying of "Merry Christmas Everybody"? Is it all the parties, the drinking, the eating, the puking? Some way of lifting the winter blues?
I think I may have answered my own question.
It's pagan again, only without the spiritual angle the pagans brought to the festival, which--let's face it--was theirs before the Christians stole it.
But I'll be honest, I miss the religious element.
I want to feel something, when the giant trees go up in the town centre. I want a vision.
I expect to talk to an angel sometime over Christmas and feel the radiant warmth of God washing over me. That's what Christmas is supposed to be about.
I can fall down and puke on my own shoes any day of the year. And frequently have.

7 comments:

Glenn said...

I can't stand it. But what's worse is New Years's Eve -- now that's some sickening shit.

Christmas and New Years allow all the boring and predictable people to become even more boring and predictable -- and that's why they love it so much; they're in their element.

Bobby said...

I remember your story about how, one Christmas, you had to walk a horrid distance through terrible cold to go to work. That story has stuck with me. It reminded me of a rough Christmas or two I've spent.

There's no doubt about it: It's a rough time for many.

In recent years, I've been trying to define these holidays for my self, using their most fundamental or ideal definitions and I try to listen to songs like Nat King Cole's The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas to You) as often as possible. My two sisters and I inherited a wealth of Christmas tunes in various formats - I'll be listening to some corny old Christmas classics, I believe.

Janey... said...

Hey Bruce...

We touched on this last year around the holidays...

Last year at this time, I was in New Orleans post-Katrina...trying to help make someone else's life easier... Trying to share what I had...not tangible things...but sharing the strength I brought with me... Sharing it with those who had none...And sharing the burdens of those left behind in New Orleans...because if I could shoulder just some of their burden to give someone some relief...it was going to be worthwhile...
When you strip away all the crap...something like this can mean the difference in someone's struggle between life or death...

I remember being there and having seen the miles of devastation...heartbreaking devastation...I was staying in a hotel filled with displaced residents and FEMA workers...The hotel had just been repaired enough to open...all of the windows had been blown out on one side during the storm...There was a skeleton crew keeping it open...And I remember a turning point...not a turning point in my trip...not a turning point in what I had back home...but a turning point in which I decided how to respond to the world I live in...
Here I was in my hotel room...exhausted and watching the local monring news the day after Thanksgiving...Seeing footage of people trampling one another to get into Wal-mart at 5 a.m. in order to buy a Play Station...It was incredible footage...watching people, bloodthirsty for that Play Station...so bloodthirsty that they pushed other people to the ground and trampled over them to get in the door first...
Did people stop to help???
Did they stop the madness and halt in shame because of what they'd been swept up in???
No...they laughed hyena-style and kept going...A store security finally was able to make it into the mob to help a woman up off the floor...no one else cared...and now an ambulance was coming for her...

It was then, at that moment... living, seeing, breathing total polar opposites, all within the same regional area, that I decided to not be so damn apathetic... Shaking the humbled hands of those whose lives were devastated and couldn't care less about a Play Station but were hoping they'd find their missing mother was an eye opening reality...Compare that backdrop to the Wal-Mart fiasco on the news...

I made a decision that day... Continue being disgusted and disgruntled at the capitalistic circus surrounding the holidays so I could tell myself I wasn't a part of it??? Or..........not be a part of it...
I decided last year...that I no longer wanted people to trudge out to buy something for me because, "It was Christmas." I didn't want to ever sound ungrateful for their efforts or intentions but to tell you the truth? I was never going to wear that t-shirt with the reindeer on it given to me...I was never going to use that gaudy sea shell keychain my niece and nephew bought for me...Or use those placemats my mother bought for me even though I don't have a dining room table...
So since last year, I have let those in my life know, that they needn't feel compelled to buy me "things." Truth be known, I have enough crap...and I'm not very materialistic to begin with...
But I have said to them, that if they would like to make a donation to a charity of their choice in my honor...I'd like that BEST...It would make me smile longer...
Give to someone who needs help...
Give to the countless animal shelters housing all of the displaced Katrina animals who need food and shelter...It didn't matter to me who they chose, as long as it was a cause they believed in...And while they were at it...give whatever amount you want...even if it's $10...because $10 will feed cats and dogs for several days...and any days are worthwhile...
It's helped steer people in my life back in the right direction of what the holidays are for(I'm not religious but still feel Christmastime is a time to recognize and appreciate what and who you have)...
Now, my niece and nephew research different causes they would like to support...it has provoked them to think...to see the world beyond the surface...to see the world beyond a Play Station...and to become humanitarians by doing...not by standing by watching...
Not bad for an 8 and 12 year old...
That lesson I've passed to them, is part of what Christmas is...in my little opinion...

Bruce Hodder said...

Janey,
That's what I'm going to do, I think. Every year I complain about Christmas being materialiastic and then sit back and wait for my presents--bloody hypocrite! So I'm going to take a leaf out of your book. It will help my karma and it will also help whoever might be buying me a gift (small list!) Thanks, J. As ever you talk with great wisdom.
You should put some of these stories down and try to get them published somewhere, by the way. As a non-fiction commentary on America or the world or something. I've never read anybody write as eloquently about these themes as you do.

Bruce Hodder said...

Glenn,
Yeah, the most uninteresting people are in their element in the run-up to Christmas. The Christmas party I went to for work last year was such a bust I drank all the way thru dinner and then went home without telling anybody where I was going. People thought something had happened to me. At the point where the septuagenarian deejay got onto the mic and started playing fucking Abba and Queen and whoever else, and all of the ugly people started rushing to the dance floor with looks of ecstatic gratitude and sudden social liberation on their faces, I remember thinking: "Oh my God. I am in Hell."
This year I ain't going. I'd rather sit at home and watch my old "Kung Fu" dvds.

Bruce Hodder said...

Bobby,
But yeah, having said the above, I also have a weakness for the Christmas songs. Sinatra, Crosby, Dean Martin even...and Elvis' Christmas songs are the dog's nuts. So I will undoubtedly be filling my house with those before too long. But I've misplaced my copy of the Pogues' "Fairytale of New York"--another favourite--but if I'm not as broke as I think I am I will replace it before the season is out.

Janey... said...

Bruce...

Thanks very much for your kind words...
I hope to one day be able to publish something...I have no idea what...or how though...hahahahaha!!!!

I've written many excerpts of life through my eyes over the years but they never really amount to something I'm pleased with...One of the conscious parameters I imposed when I started my blog was to be able to force my own hand in a bit more organized spontaneity...
just because *gasp*...others might see it...
The blog was started as a result of my New Orleans experience... seemed an opportune time for some structure and organization (how's that for a parallel process!)The person who indirectly prompted me to start the blog to begin with(I tried to reply to his and had to register with blogspot)read what I had written about our New Orleans trip and forwarded my writing to Dave Marsh who was interested in our trip...I almost fell on the floor when I heard that...then thought, "uh oh...if someone like Dave Marsh reads something of mine, I'd better step it up a notch!!!"

But back to the charitable gift idea...you mentioned it makes it easier on those buying for "us." When I told my family, it was the most excited I've ever heard my sister-in-law in the 15 years she's been in our family! And...she insists that we do likewise for them...I always try to find a charity that matches something important to them so that at least they know I'm putting thought into it and not solely whipping out the credit card...my brother has always been a musician so for his birthday, I donated to Music Rising...to replace musical instruments lost to those in New Orleans...
I hope it's an idea that works for you too!