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hoping against hope



I don't think I am being a scrooge when I say I am totally inclined to agree with this recent post by Penelope Trunk. I would be much obligedhappier if non-Christians were no longer being pressured into (EDIT:17.35) celebrating Christmas. Frankly, as a Christian, I'm coming to the realization that it's being pushed down other peoples' throats and it is absolutely abhorrent to me. Frankly I think non-Christians would enjoy having that heavy burden lifted off their shoulders; Jews would be able to push Chanukah back down as the less-significant holiday that it actually is, Kwanzaa could finally die the death its deserved, and more people (including Christians!) could keep money in their pockets at the end of the year.

I think returning Christmas to its rightful place would be the Jesus-y thing to do and if people want some sort of non-denominational winter festival to spend time with family they could go on ahead and lobby for it (though in America, isnt Thanksgiving e-frikkin-nough?). While I don't think any of this will happen any time soon, I think it's good to get the idea circulating.


None of this has anything to do with Christmas...

Comments

( 41 comments — Leave a comment )
tuckova
Dec. 6th, 2007 10:09 am (UTC)
as a non-Christian celebrating Christmas:
We send Christmas cards to friends and family (homemade, cause it's fun to do projects together) who observe Christmas, just like I send them birthday presents if they care about birthdays.

My husband and son both get the week off. I think we're celebrating that. I believe in giving gifts to people with whom you are trapped in a house for seven days, but mainly I think of the gifts as "starting the New Year right" more than Christmas gifts. And I like some of the solstice aspects (candles, lights, a tree in the house, the smell of good things baking). It took a long time for me to like parts of the holiday without being overwhelmed by hating on the commercialism or feeling like I was poaching a Christian holiday, perpetuating a tradition of holiday poaching. It took thinking, "I like this tradition, I'm going to do this; I don't like that tradition, I'm going to skip it"-- and realizing that it was possible. I think the pressure on people (particularly in the US) to celebrate a holiday that they feel dubious or even resentful about is only going to let up when they stop letting it affect them into giving in to that pressure.
olamina
Dec. 6th, 2007 10:26 am (UTC)
Re: as a non-Christian celebrating Christmas:
But pretty much everywhere youwrote Christmas you could have put Winter Solstice or something else. The importance of it being a celebration of the birth of Christ is necessarily subtracted from the equation in order for it to work for non-religious people and really that's all it is. I think if people want to do the solstice things then they shouldnt use the word Christmas. They should use solstice or winter festival or whatever. I just don't like the word "Christmas" being applied to such a wide swath of activities or putting pressure on others to participate in said activities.
spqr_ragazza
Dec. 6th, 2007 11:50 am (UTC)
I think it should be more like Easter - a Christian holiday where the kids get to have a little non-Jesus-related fun, and the adults know what it's really about.

The thing I don't love is the hypocrisy of it, which I think you're saying the same thing maybe - that, at the same time Christian groups wage this war saying TAKE BACK CHRISTMAS IT'S A CHRISTIAN HOLIDAY, they're also the ones running around like maniacs trying to find the year's hottest gift and caught up in the commercialism of it. If these same Christian groups really wanted to make a point, they'd speak with their wallets, not on FOX news.

olamina
Dec. 6th, 2007 12:08 pm (UTC)
well i havent seen so many Christian fundamentalists saying Take Back Christmas. Quite the opposite in fact, I've more been seeing them saying things like "Look at all the Scrooges that want to stop Christmas by Calling It X-Mas , This is a Christian Country" and also getting annoyed when places dont want Christmas decorations and stuff. All those Christmas decorations are related to a lot of pagan festivities that the Christian fundamentalists refer to as "the devil". Those are the last people I would turn to save Christmas, they are the right hand evil elves of neocon capitalism.
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olamina
Dec. 6th, 2007 01:02 pm (UTC)
You're right about the whole reaping what you sow. I am definitely not saying Christians are guilt-free in this situation, but I can certainly still hope and work for things to be different in the future.

However I would wager to say that most of what you want out of your face are things like the photo I posted above. Christmas is basically just a mass service to celebrate the birth of Christ (whatever day it was) so unless you walked into a church it wouldn't be in your face anyway, what IS in your face is the commercial cooptation of the mostly pagan hybrid and, frankly, we'd all do well to be rid of it...especially those of you who have to go to work and the resulting office holiday affairs (yeesh, I just got a cold chill).
(Deleted comment)
kellianne
Dec. 6th, 2007 02:00 pm (UTC)
oh, comeon! call it what you will: it's all the festival of light! aka the winter solstice. it doesn't happen around thanksgiving, either. it's usually the 21st or the 22nd.

the heads of the catholic church declared it "christmas" to duel with pagans in the early days. they decided that christ was "the light of the world" so they took over the festival of light. it's never really been all about christ!!

in the end, no matter what we want to call it or how we want to celebrate, we're all just keeping each other warm through the shortest, darkest days.
olamina
Dec. 6th, 2007 02:57 pm (UTC)
call it what you will? i'm a christian and i would like to celebrate christmas as one of the major holy days of my faith. i think the world wouldbe better off if the celebration of jesus's birth and the pagnan solstice were separated. i don't disparage the pagan festival, heck i might even join in on the celebrations, but if this pagan hybrid is being used to sell a whole heap o' junk then i think Christians better set our captives free to do their thing.
lapsedmodernist
Dec. 6th, 2007 02:15 pm (UTC)
I feel like in America the hyper-orchestration of Christmas is tied to Thanksgiving--it creates this clearly marked consumption window and sales are structured around it. As long as Thanksgiving is a national cross-denominational holiday, it is super-profitable to ensure the Christmas is celebrated by everyone who celebrates Thanksgiving.
olamina
Dec. 6th, 2007 03:06 pm (UTC)
Consumption window
That phrase "consumption window" that hits the nail on the head. Thanksgiving is the tryptophane-laced gateway drug to Christmas.
freecloud13
Dec. 6th, 2007 02:27 pm (UTC)
Living in Italy where the Vatican is (yes, I know it's technically another country but so often you forget that because of the amount of attention dedicated to Vatican matters in the TV news) we hardly know about any other holidays except Catholic. In Trieste we have a Serbian and a Greek orthodox church so we get to hear about their Christmas/New Year which are about 2 weeks after the Catholic one. That's pretty much it. I come from an atheist family. I didn't attend religion class in junior high school and high school because it bothered me that something like that was and still is taught in public schools. Having said that, I've never had a problem with Christmas as such because I understand that the majority of people around me are Christian, and I sure didn't mind the extra week off school - I assume we'd have a week of school for New Year's regardless of Christmas. But the consumerism REALLY annoys me. I can't stand turning the tv on and hearing the national news reporting about the Christmas shopping craze and asking people "have you started your Christmas shopping yet?" or "what are you going to stuff yourself with on Christmas Eve this year?" and other nonsense like that.

My family has always focused on New Year's more. We decorate our tree on Christmas Eve because it's tradition, and bake 'potica' because it's tradition - it's more about doing things that belong to our heritage (regardless of the religious meaning behind them). What puzzles me is the people who consider themselves Christian but only see to do extremely consumerist things. I know very few Christians who celebrate Christmas the way I think it should be celebrated.

Maybe I'd have a different opinion on all this if I had a different religion and couldn't get days off on the festive days of that religion - being an atheist I just wish those who claim to believe in it were a little more consistent. Sometimes I watch the midnight Mass service on tv, and I think about the values that Christianity wants to teach with that, and I find it incredibly ironic that while I - an atheist - am thinking about such things, millions or Christians are stuffing themselves and greedily opening gifts they have spent too much money on.
electric_honey
Dec. 6th, 2007 02:33 pm (UTC)
as a non-observant jew, the emphasis placed on christmas bothered me a lot more as a kid than it does now. back then i always felt like i was missing out on something. but now i kind of like it--i love working during christmas week when everyone else takes off, i like taking advantage of the sales to buy things for myself, and i like parties. i also really enjoy it when people at work talk about buying christmas presents and how much money and time it costs them and i chime in to say that i don't buy any holiday presents at all, except for my work secret santa present.

the only thing that bothers me is how crowded movie theaters get on christmas now. when i was a kid we'd be the only people there.
scythrop
Dec. 6th, 2007 03:03 pm (UTC)
Word ;)

My favorite is when people write "Xmas" and think they are being all subversive, as if using the Greek Chi as an abbreviation were brand spankin' new.

But anyway, I do feel like there is a near-universal human need to have some kind of festival during the shortest days. My favorite Yuletide customs are downright pagan! But what bothers me the most (more than calling Advent the "Christmas season," which is saying a lot) is the abject consumerism tied inexplicably with the Incarnation of the one who brought "good news for the poor." This pretty much sums it all up for me.


maybe everyone should just say this?
olamina
Dec. 6th, 2007 03:11 pm (UTC)
Yeah, you're right about the XMas! What about the Mas part people? I also used to hate to have to say Happy Holidays when I worked retail. What about the people who don't have (or want) any holidays?

Thanks for linking to that letter. It was great. I'm glad people (especially American Christians, who can sometimes be the absolute worse) are seeing the light!
(no subject) - olamina - Dec. 6th, 2007 03:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - scythrop - Dec. 6th, 2007 04:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
doraphilia
Dec. 6th, 2007 04:13 pm (UTC)
This probably sounds naive, but I must say it never occurred to me that someone would be offended by me celebrating Christmas in a commericial and secular way. Now that I think about it, though, I can understand. It's co-opting.

I must admit... I'm a non-observant Jew, and I loooooove Christmas. I love the music, I love the trees, the lights... I love santa, seeing my family, the "spirit", etc. My boyfriend is an observant Christian and he is generally with me on treating Christmas secularly, or at least has reached that conclusion/compromise with regards to our future together (not that I'm not open minded about Christianity and raising my kids with it-- but it's just not my background). That said, I certainly don't want to offend anyone by doing so, and I'm glad you wrote about feeling that way because I hadn't really considered it from that perspective.

I do agree that you could subsitute "Winter Solstice", but in language we have a million names for things that are totally outdated, and I don't think people --even the non-religious people-- would want to sever the historical roots of this now totally commercial, secular celebration.
olamina
Dec. 6th, 2007 04:21 pm (UTC)
I am sorry this was unclear. I am not offended by non-Christians who celebrate Christmas, I am offended by Christians who think it is alright to try and force non-Christians to observe our holiday. Christian fundamentalists have become the lackies of modern neocon capitalism and as such are pulling this whole "Stop the backlash against Christmas" "Stop saying Happy Holidays", andt the more I think about it the more annoying it is to me not only as a Christian but a person who values human rights and is disgusted with the soullessness of capitalism.

As for the winter solstice comment, I am not saying people SHOULD say winter solstice, rather I am saying that most of the concepts people associate with Christmas have nothing to do with Christ's birth, and so the word and concept are just being zapped of any meaning.
(no subject) - doraphilia - Dec. 6th, 2007 04:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - olamina - Dec. 6th, 2007 04:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - olamina - Dec. 6th, 2007 04:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
beignet
Dec. 6th, 2007 06:20 pm (UTC)
I think that today's celebration of Christmas has absolutely nothing to do with religion nor is there any *real* Christianity in it. It has become a commercial holiday.

bing_crosby
Dec. 6th, 2007 06:32 pm (UTC)
this is kind of interesting: http://buynothingchristmas.org/
not that it is very new, but it does seem to be put out by Christians, as opposed to anti-consumerists. though it's hard exactly to tell-- but I got that impression from a random article I read about it in an airport recently (i.e. not in the NY Times).
olamina
Dec. 6th, 2007 06:41 pm (UTC)
Thanks for that. The Mennonites are pretty great!
(no subject) - masculin - Dec. 7th, 2007 07:43 am (UTC) - Expand
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olamina
Dec. 7th, 2007 06:33 am (UTC)
I know. It's been mentioned. We reap what we sow, I know.

Lots of people can lay claim to the festival of light.... but not so many really want to claim plain old Christian Christmas. Nonetheless, my attitude is that if people want to join we Christians in celebrating plain old Christian Christmas then join but no one should be forced. I don't think anyone should be forced to celebrate the winter festival either. It should be kept out of the workplace (save for maybe a few "Winter Days" off)and the consumerism must die. The whole fervor strikes me as painfully oppressive.
(Anonymous)
Dec. 7th, 2007 03:33 am (UTC)
as a person who generally despises the "holidays"
i think this is brilliant. yes, thanksgiving is MORE than enough. i hate how everyone expects you to be so cheerful for like two months. i cant even be cheerful for like three days back to back. down with secular christmas! :-)

xo
j.
wringham
Dec. 11th, 2007 05:42 pm (UTC)
Hi there.

Thanks for the befriending. Right back atcha. I also took the liberty of checking out your flickr photos. Some lovely stuff.

Will enjoy reading your blog I think.
verbavolant
Dec. 25th, 2007 04:15 am (UTC)
hey lady. Again. (I am catching up on lj)

let me just high-five you on the anti-materialistic front. It's gotten to the point where I get _angry_ about presents, either sent to me or expected from me. This declaration of familial love that has to have a particular price tag, and if it doesn't, it's not enough love. It couldn't be more chockfull of bulls__t as far as I'm concerned.

As a former Catholic, I think I get where you're coming from, as well.
( 41 comments — Leave a comment )

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