The Way of the Word

20. December 2009

It’s That Time of Year Again?

Filed under: general,Uncategorized — jensaltmann @ 17:07

Looking at all the snow outside, and the bustle in the stores, it has to be Christmas. Again. Didn’t we just have this last year? Plus, considering that the stores started selling Christmas stuff as early as September (at least over here in Hamburg), it’s a bit surprising that people aren’t fed up with it already.

But no, they’re really getting into the Christmas spirit. Like every year.

(Warning: Rant and snark ahead.)

So. The question is, what does Christmas really mean? Show of hands all those who think of a little baby boy in a crib. Thank you. Now, show your hands all those who think of a fat bearded guy in a red suit. Thank you.

Be honest: which side did you pick? Full disclosure: I’m in the red suit camp. Even when I was a child, Christmas didn’t mean the birthday of Jesus the Nazarene. It was all about Santa bringing gifts. It was a happy time, full of warmth (I grew up in a house with wood/coal stoves and ovens. Coziest warmth you’ll ever know) and presents.

In the years since my childhood, Christmas has become increasingly commercialized. I remember days when stores didn’t sell Christmas stuff before late November. Now, as I mentioned above, the first chocolate Santas show up in September. I’m not a religious person, far from it (I’m more of an atheist). I’m also not opposed to Christmas presents, I consider them an essential part of Christmas. But this commercialization sickens me.

(It’s par for the course, though: every holiday has been completely taken over by merchandising. Easter, for example, has apparently become something like Christmas, in that gifts are now expected. Halloween is all about parties and candy. Pick any holiday, it’s all the same. And let’s not forget the fake holidays, like Shopping Friday in the US, which exist only to make people spend money.)

I’m sounding like one of those nostalgic old coots, aren’t I? But think about it: wasn’t Christmas better back when giving a gift said that the person to whom you gave it meant something to you? “It’s the thought that counts.” That used to be the Christmas spirit. These days, it means that the gift was unappreciated, and the one receiving it is trying but failing to hide their disappointment.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that Christmas is a fake holiday. It’s supposed to celebrate the birth of Christ (hence the name), but it actually co-opted the pagan rite of winter solistice. (If you look into it, you’ll find that Christianity has co-opted a lot of pagan festivals back when they were still establishing themselves.) (Although I’m in the camp of those who think that, since Christians are lapsed Jews, the schedule was appropriated from the Jewish festival of Hanukkah.) Still, Christmas is supposed to be a time of loving an being loved, of giving and receiving. These days, it’s about ipods, e-book-readers (and yes, I wish someone would give me one for Christmas — I also know it’s not going to happen) and whatever else is currently expensive and hip. Instead of spending time with the families, strengthening the bonds, people move out. To parties, if they’re young. Away from everything, if they’re a bit older. To do precisely that: get away from all that family crap.

The PC camp has nothing to be proud of, either. It seems as if Christmas is about to be outlawed. There are a ton of other festivals being created, all taking care at Christmas time. (Which makes me wonder how many of those are for real, and how many are just based on the concept of “I don’t want anything to do with that Christian shit, but I want the presents and the time off from work.”) Each of them is supposed to be honored instead. A few years ago, another blogger made a list of “I wish everyone a happy …” (fill in the holiday designation of your choice). A few days later, they added several more that they had forgotten, apologizing for it.

You know something? That’s taking PC way too far. So far as I’m concerned, I’ll wish everyone a Merry Christmas. If you wish me a Happy or Merry Whatever-You-Call-The -Festival, I’ll take the holiday wish in exactly the spirit of “a holiday by any other name…” If, instead, you choose to take offense, that’s your problem, not mine.

Just don’t bother wishing me anything non-denominational, like Festivus or Happy Holidays. I choose to take offense at that PC crap. If you don’t want to celebrate the holiday, then go all the way. Otherwise, you’re just a hypocrite. (I’ll accept a Merry Giftmas, though, because that’s what it’s really all about this century.)

In closing, a word about Christmas cards. I like getting Christmas cards. We’ve already established some posts ago that I’m a sentimental bastard. It’s a nice way of saying, “I’m thinking of you.” (It’s kind of telling when all the Christmas cards you get were sent by your business contacts.) I make no difference between e-cards and real cards. (I actually prefer e-cards; real cards get tossed into the trash during the first week of January anyway, so e-cards make much more sense.) The one thing a Christmas card needs to remember, however, is to remain agenda-free. Even a pre-printed card that someone just signed their name to is nice. But if I get a Christmas card, open it, and get a political rant to read? Off to the trash, right away. Christmas cards that propagate agendas are as bad as selling cholocate Santas in September.



  1. i would have to make more christmas cards becuase next month is december already *~;

    Comment by Trike Motorcycles · — 13. November 2010 @ 13:42

  2. I love your wp design, where did you get a hold of it?

    Comment by here — 29. May 2012 @ 12:40

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