Christmas…er…Holiday Stupidity

merry-christmas-cartoon

Borrowed from Whatever I Think. Click on the pic to check out her blog!

It’s Christmas time.  Really, it is, though in public government schools, among myriad other places, you wouldn’t know it.  Why?  Because Christmas, and any reference to it, is being systematically squelched.  It should amaze everyone that here, in 2012, in the freest nation on earth (well, at one time), we can’t publicly celebrate Christmas!  At least, we can’t anymore without some recrimination.  This has become one of the many things I hate about Christmas.  Where has the good will among men gone, because it surely is not widely evident, not even in the Christmas season when it should be modus operandi.

As I headed into the grocery store last week, I encountered one of the ubiquitous Salvation Army bell ringers.  He wished me Happy Holidays, and I responded with Merry Christmas.  He had the audacity to chide me for that (Really!!), telling me I ought to say Happy Holidays, that it was better…and safer…these days.  Better for whom?  Safer for whom?  And who cares!?  This stance that we have to curtail our Christmas spirit (or have it forcibly curtailed) is stupid and infuriating, and yet in so many cases we who celebrate Christmas just shrug our shoulders as if there’s nothing we can do, so why bother trying.

Did you catch the irony that the bell ringer is working for a Christian organization as a Christmas employee, during the Christmas season…the season of giving…and during the Salvation Army’s largest fundraising event of the year?!  I did, and I told him I did not believe in wishing Happy Holidays to everyone, when in fact I (and most others) are celebrating Christmas!  (What I didn’t say was that I didn’t appreciate being chided for Christmas greetings, and that if he was looking for donations, that was a really poor way to go about getting any.)  I did pass along my annoyance to the Salvation Army, however, and they (shockingly) responded…appropriately (to me), and (hopefully) appropriately to him.

Every single day I read or hear on the news about the latest assaults on Christmas.

  • No more Christmas trees…now they’re holidays trees.
  • Many places are banning Christmas holiday trees altogether.
  • Christmas carols?  Nope, holiday music, and definitely no religious carols.
  • Christmas shopping on Black Friday?  None that I saw.  Black Friday sales for holiday shopping.
  • Some schools have banned the kids from saying Merry Christmas.  What??  (First amendment, but I digress…)
  • No Christmas decorations…winter decorations, or generic holiday decorations.
  • Employers banning Christmas greetings.  WTH??

It goes on and on.  You can see the evidence of this even in Hollywood, with fewer Christmas movies coming out this year than in years past.  I don’t know about you, but I love Christmas movies:  Elf, A Christmas Story, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, How the Grinch Stole Christmas…  They’re  like Christmas music for me – a way to capture the magic of the season for a moment, and to celebrate what should make Christmas the most wonderful time of the year.  They’re  a momentary escape from some of the rotten realities of the season…like this ongoing war against Christmas.

What is astonishing is how infrequent it is that those who are exposing all of this anti-Christmas foolishness are not pointing out time and time again – loudly – how no one is seeking to ban anyone else from celebrating their holiday of choice.  There is no movement to stifle Chanukah celebrations in this country.  No backlash against Kwanzaa.  No attempts to silence Ramadan observance.  If anything, these holidays are protected and preserved, as are those who celebrate them.  But Christmas…an official national holiday…is being silenced little by little, all in the name of fairness, equality, and the right to live unoffended.

Well, what about me?  It offends me to CENSOR Christmas.  It offends me that we have become a nation so over-sensitive to being offended that we stifle our own expressions of faith and joy lest we offend others who are expressing their faith and joy (publicly) in a different way.  It’s stupid!  It’s infuriating!  Perhaps most of all (and in my opinion), it seeks to devalue the real reason for Christmas to the point where there is barely a vestige of Christ left in Christmas.

Truly, what I wish is that Christmas…Christmas…CHRISTmas…would be valued more as a celebration of Jesus’ birth than a holiday for extravagance and decadence.  At the minimum, I wish that this ridiculous notion that those who celebrate differently are offended when Christmas is celebrated openly, publicly & joyfully would be put to rest.  It’s not the case…at least, not in this country, and we should not behave as though it is.

So, that’s how I am celebrating, and I’m starting by wishing you all a bold & joyous Merry Christmas!

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Do You Think…?

…I’d (finally) start enjoying Christmas again if I turned off the TV entirely for the next month, and instead listened to beautiful Christmas music, watched Christmas movies, practiced Christmas carols on the piano, and read a few books?

Won’t happen, of course, but it’s a thought.

I’ll at least listen to Christmas music.  Here’s one of my faves!

I Hate Christmas!

I HATE CHRISTMAS.

There, I said it.

I know it’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, but I am in that statistical minority that would like nothing more than to skip from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, leaving all the gift buying, tree trimming, gift wrapping, decorating, partying, gift giving, stressing, and exhaustion for someone else.  In large part it’s the ridiculous commercialization of this holiday that has put it on my shit…er, naughty…list, such that consumers are encouraged, wheedled with, pushed and begged to make this the best Christmas ever by purchasing whatever hot item is currently on the must have list.  I hate that we as customers are so easily manipulated by our desire for things.  How many of us are willing to fight, scrap and maul each other over some spectacularly priced item that we need want?  Black Friday, the more or less official kick-off to the Christmas season, starts before we have even digested Thanksgiving dinner, and many of us are all but tipping chairs over in our rush out the door to fill our cars with Black Friday sales.

And then there is the war on Christmas.  Sure, we live in a country where we are free to celebrate Christmas as we choose (or indeed, any holiday we choose), where Christmas is a FEDERAL HOLIDAY, and yet there is a (seemingly) growing movement to excise Christ from Christmas.  It’s fine if we celebrate Christ’s birth (the real reason for the season) as long as we do it privately, and not in the public square.  Never mind that the public is us, never mind that we who celebrate Christ are not requiring that every other faith (or non-faith) restrict their own holiday celebrations, and certainly never mind that turning Christmas into the more inclusive (bland) holiday season is still referencing something holy Perhaps most of all on this particular issue, I hate that no entity seems to have a backbone to stand up to these Grinches until their selfish, misplaced, faux offense is exposed on the news.

Psychologists will tell you that there are many who find Christmas to be the most difficult, most stressful, most anxiety-inducing, most depressing time of the year.  It does not surprise me.  There is enough commercial and political ridiculousness to tarnish the most ardent Christmas spirit.  I used to think these psych statistics referred to (a relatively small number of) people with no family, no friends, no money, no home, or no reason to celebrate.  (As if any of those conditions constitutes a reason not to celebrate the birth of Christ, but I digress…).  I now know that it can be anyone, and I know that because I am one of them.  There have been countless Christmases that I have dreaded, that have been wrought with devastating disappointment for me, and though some of those disappointments were attached to a gift I received, they were never about not getting what I wanted, but rather about realizing beyond the shadow of a doubt how little I was valued by the gift giver.  It was visceral, piercing pain.  So many years I spent looking forward to Christmas, building up in my mind what a wonderful day it would be, and being done in by whatever it was that crushed out my joy for that day.

Thankfully it wasn’t every Christmas.  Thankfully there were happy ones as a young kid, when the whole family would converge at our grandparents’ home for a few days of Christmas fun.  Thankfully I remember those Christmases, enough so that I want to make absolutely sure my own children experience the complete, unfettered joy that comes from Christmas being all that it should be for them.  And what I want most for my children is for them to wrap their hearts around the Christ child, the only reason for the season, to anchor their joy in Him, and to see intimately how and why “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (James 1:17).

So maybe I don’t hate Christmas.
Maybe I hate that Christmas has become more about what it is not than what it is.
I abhor the crass commercialization that starts earlier every year.
I loathe the war on Christmas.
I despise how people can disappoint and hurt each other on the very holiday that they should be celebrating the joy of Christ’s birth.
I hate my own Grinchy attitude, legitimate though it may be, because it is not anchored in Christ.

On the other hand…
I love the real reason for the season…Jesus Christ!
I love the joy my child has in Christmas.
I love watching him get joy not only from getting gifts, but from giving them.
I love that we share that kind of joy.

And I love Christmas music.  There is nothing better than listening to glorious music that expresses the joy of Christmas and celebrates the good and perfect gift of Jesus Christ!  If only we celebrated those things with the same vigor all year long.  A resolution, perhaps…but for now, at the (almost) beginning of this Christmas season, I leave you with one of my favorite Christmas carols.

Saturday Snapshot

I ran across the Saturday Snapshot meme today on Book Journey, a book blog that I read regularly.  I do like taking pictures – and I’m not very good – but it sounds like a fun activity, especially if it gets me carrying my camera around again.  So here goes…

 This meme is hosted by at home with books, which I will be following (starting today),
because not only does it have the fun Saturday Snapshot, it is a blog about books.  Can’t get much better than that.

To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky below. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online.

I took this picture of my son and his Pap Pap (my father-in-law), during Christmas 2010.  He was absolutely glued to Pap’s side for pretty much our entire visit.  On the day we celebrated Christmas with the whole family, this is where my sweet boy could be found.  He could hardly be pried away to eat, or to play with his cousins (big, strapping college graduates).  And he loves to play with his cousins.   They became, in fact, a bit jealous of the fact that Pap was not only getting all the attention, but that they were snuggled up together talking or reading, something the big, strapping cousins never get to do with him because all he wants them to do is play…play…play.

What the small child was (probably) only vaguely aware of was that this was the first time we got to see Pap after he had heart surgery.  This was three months post surgery, and while he was recovering beautifully & right on schedule, he was still about 3 months away from total recovery.  We were touched and amazed at how tuned in he was to Pap’s energy level.  We didn’t discuss the surgery with him (except to tell him that it happened), and any worries that my husband or I had about it remained private.  Nevertheless, he clearly sensed something, and the picture above captures exactly how they were for the duration of our visit.

Christmas Rant (several years in the making)

So back when I was still referring to the small child as the tiny child…probably 3-4 years ago now…a remark was made to me about how spoiled my child was due to the number of gifts he had received for Christmas.  We were not at home, and the gifts were not from us, but from grandparents, aunts & uncles who love him desperately and gave him gifts from their hearts because they love him.

He loves them back…not because of the gifts, but because they shower him with love & attention every time they see him.  They hug him & kiss him, they talk to him & read to him, they play with him & snuggle with him, they tickle him & wrestle with him, they take him on adventures & hang out with him.  They make him feel important to them, and he adores them.  He loves gifts – what child doesn’t – but he looks forward to seeing them more than anything in the world, regardless of whether or not gifts are involved.

Just to illustrate that I’m not exaggerating, last Christmas when we were there, we could hardly pry him away from his grandfather for the entire visit.  Wherever Pap when, the small child went.  If Pap was doing a puzzle, so was he.  If Pap was reading, it was most often to the small child in his lap.  When we all gathered for Christmas dinner, he was snuggled up under Pap’s arm or on Pap’s lap the entire time, to the point that some cousins (big, strapping cousins who had graduated from college) were a little envious because they weren’t getting the attention.  I want it to be like that for as long as it can be…those two have a relationship that needs as much fostering as possible, because it won’t last forever (on this earth), and the small child should have as many wonderful memories as possible with that extraordinary man.

But back to the grievance, because what is Christmas without some (petty?) rant about something that annoys the snot out of you, and thus becomes part of your Christmas family folklore?  I responded quickly, and with some indignation, that he was not spoiled, and the rejoinder to me was a comment pointing out all the toys he was getting for Christmas, and how is that not spoiled?  I am not naive.  I know that we all are greatly spoiled.  Our lives are comfortable.  Our Christmas Wish Lists contain our wants, because our needs are more than met already.  Many of us (myself included) show our love to those we love through the gifts we give.  My response at this point to say that I know he is materially spoiled, but he does not have a spoiled attitude.  It has been important to us from the very beginning to make sure that he is always appreciative to those who give him gifts…that he always says thank you with love & hugs, and that when he is unable to say so in person, we (together) write a note to convey our gratitude.

So I was somewhat put out by this presumptuous comment, and completely put out when there were further (unnecessary) statements to the effect of how their child would not be spoiled, that they would not parent that way, that there was always a trash can into which the overabundance of gifts could be deposited on the way out the door.

Seriously??  So they would be willing to deprive the grandparents, aunts & uncles who love their child of the joy of giving gifts and seeing their child enjoy them?  Surely you can’t be serious!

Further (and this is what really got my undies in a bunch), this is someone who , along with the rest of the grands, has been spoiled – very spoiled – for their entire lives by the very grandparents, aunts & uncles who are now spoiling my child.  Not to mention the fact that the spoiling is not limited to when they are babies.  They are spoiled all the way to (and into) adulthood.  Why?  Because they are loved.  Very, very loved.  By lots of people for whom one way of showing that love is giving gifts.  This love extends to spouses.  And it extends to their offspring…because now they have one of their own.

How does that disconnect occur?  How can such a judgment be made about my child without immediately recognizing that they are the proverbial pot calling the kettle black?

I suppose now I’m wondering, and with more than a little interest, if they will live by the principle that was voiced to me, or will they do as we all have done…be happy that their own offspring is loved with the depth and breadth that he is.  My personal opinion is that they will accept with graciousness any gift that is given, and that the conversation of a few years ago was an instance of firmly inserting a foot in a mouth by verbalizing a judgment that should have been kept to oneself.  How often we do that, especially when we have not had the benefit of the experience we are judging.

So with that…Merry Christmas.  May you be spoiled way beyond your expectations.

My Life in Song (Christmas version)

Alternate Title:  Because I Can…and I’m Watching Football…and I Don’t Want to Think Very Hard…and Because It’s Fun

Using song titles from ONLY Christmas song titles, cleverly answer the questions below, then tag a few of your friends (or publish it to all of creation!!).

  1. Are you male or female?  I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus (John Mellencamp)
  2. Describe yourself:  I Wish Every Day Could Be Like Christmas (Bon Jovi)
  3. How do you feel about yourself?  Even Santa Gets the Blues (Marty Stuart)
  4. Describe your ex-boyfriend/girlfriend:  I Farted on Santa’s Lap (The Little Strikers)
  5. Describe your current boy/girl situation:  Christmas is the Time to Say I Love You (Billy Squier)
  6. Describe your current location:  Please Come Home for Christmas (Bon Jovi)
  7. Describe where you want to be:  Christmas in the Caribbean (Jimmy Buffett)
  8. Your best friend is:  Leroy the Redneck Reindeer (Joe Diffie)
  9. Your favorite color is:  Green Christmas (Barenaked Ladies)
  10. You know that:  I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas (Gayle Peevey)
  11. What is the weather like?  Hot Christmas (Squirrel Nut Zippers)
  12. If your life was a television show, what would it be called?  Christmas Time (Smashing Pumpkins)
  13. What is life to you?  Peace on Earth / Little Drummer Boy (David Bowie / Bing Crosby)
  14. What is the best advice you have to give?  Children Go Where I Send Thee (Natalie Merchant)
  15. If you could change your name, what would you change it to?  Joy to the World (Jewel)

And just for kicks, if you’ve never heard Polly Anderson’s Christmas Party by Stuart McLean, give it a listen,  It’s available free on Spotify and last.fm.  Likely the best (funniest) Christmas story I have ever heard.

Merry Christmas!  For real…I mean it. 🙂