Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Bah Humbug?

Hey. As we all know, Christmas is about a month away. As much as I like the colour and magic of the holiday, we all know that I wouldn't be talking about it if there wasn't something about it that makes me feel like a Grinch, once in a while.

The first thing is a very simple one, and it's the overplaying of certain Christmas songs on the radio. It's really more of a minor pet peeve, and a matter of taste, but personally I can really do without the so-called variety stations playing every version of "White Christmas" that has ever been recorded. This is particularly true about the version by Bing Crosby -- whom I'm related to, ironically enough -- just because to be honest there's something about his slow and somber singing that I find incredibly depressing. In fact, the big reason I dislike Christmas carols as a whole is because nine times out of ten they convey a sense of inflated joy and bliss that simply doesn't exist outside of 1950's sitcoms and the effects of a big fat joint. Mind you, the bright side of this is that you can learn to tune it out to a certain extent, especially when you can just turn off the radio.

The second beef I have is a very common one, but one that isn't going away: people making a huge deal out of shopping for perfect presents -- damn, that reminds me, I need to get presents for Stephanie, Megan and my folks. *ahems* Anyway, I know that with any major shopping season, the stores need a big lead-up time. Fair enough, but why exactly did I see a Sears with Christmas trees out, in the middle of AUGUST??? Please tell me that someone's calender was a bit fast, that day. I'm serious. The goofy part is that some shopping gurus out there have actually said on talk shows, that in order to save the most money, people shouldn't even start their shopping until a week or two before Christmas. Are these people fucking kidding me? Anyone who's ever been near a mall in the middle of December knows that by then, you will need to deploy some major artillery just to get a parking spot, never mind to find anything really nice for your loved ones. My motto is: screw the dollar signs, plan ahead, and just get something simple and heartfelt.

Finally, we get to something more serious, that gets brought up every single year in this country and drives me up the wall every single time. Namely, all of this garbage about the role of religion in public holiday displays. Yes, I said "holiday" there, as opposed to Christmas. That's for one simple reason, that a lot of people in my part of Canada seem to forget: Christmas isn't the only holiday being celebrated in the end of December. Many people apparently don't get that while Christianity is the largest single religion practiced in Canada, it is hardly the only one: as of 2001, 77.1% of us are Christians, 16.5% are atheist or agnostic, and 6.3% practice something else, such as Judaism or Islam. According to my calendar, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa are being celebrated at around the same time as Christmas, and my understanding is that those who are practicing pagans will be celebrating Yule at that time as well. So why not wish those people some joy as well? If the various forms of government go to the trouble of supporting Nativity Scenes, what's wrong with making some space for Menorahs (which would actually cover both Hanukkah and Kwanzaa)?

Besides, the phrase that gets people's knickers in a knot about this thing in the first place is "Happy Holidays" -- I've never understood what's wrong with that. Somebody's just saying that whatever you're celebrating at this time of year, enjoy it! Even if your tiny part of the world is surrounded by Christians, did the thought ever cross your mind to just think of this as wishing people Merry Christmas AND a Happy New Year?? That's honestly what I thought it meant for most of my life.

That being said, some of the bickering over Christmas Trees is a little much. The fact is, the Christmas Tree was originally a pagan symbol from their own celebrations -- namely, a Yule Tree -- so on the one hand it's definitely not something that any one religion has a monopoly on. Second... it's a fricking TREE! How anal retentive do you have to be, about it being set up in the lobby of some office building, or to give it such a lifeless re-naming as "Holiday Tree"? I'm quite fine with enjoying it on its own merits, thank you very much. If one wanted to make it more inclusive, how about Yuletide Tree, or Festive Tree, or something that actually sounds specific and charming?

Alright, that's all I have to say about this... so to everyone out there, have a Merry Christmas, Happy Yule, Happy Hanukkah, or fun Kwanzaa, or anything else you might be celebrating soon. Just have a nice time with those you care about. And before I wrap this up for the season, a friendly reminder that the deadline for Douchebag of the Year nominations is December 19th. See you in 2009. Enough said.

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