Monday, November 7, 2011

My Theme Song, My Fight Song -- Why Can't It Be Christmastime All Year

I don't follow this "you can't start Christmas before Thanksgiving" meme. I mean, really people, really? You're really going to pretend that a euphemised holiday that makes us feel better for pillaging an entire continent of native people in our conquest west deserves November while we relegate perhaps the most awesome of holidays to a mere 25 days?

I mean, look. If you want to ignore the historical and cultural realities of the history of Thanksgiving, fine. Do that. Whatever. I don't care. But don't pretend FOR A SECOND that Thanksgiving is even in the same BALLPARK as Christmas -- a holiday that somehow deftly blends the paganism of Yuletide, the secularism of the Winter Solstice, and the sacrament of the birth of Christ. Christmas is packed with the powerful symbols, from the evergreen tree to the shining star, from mistletoe to ivy, from holly to stockings, bells to reindeer, from the manger to the yule log. (I'll stop now. You get the idea.) And those symbols deserve to be unpacked and explored all year round if need be.

What really amazes me -- and I realize that this is turning into something longer than originally intended -- but what really amazes me is that Christmas as we know it today has not one, but THREE, mythic founding-figures in Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas, and Santa Claus, each with their own rich, sometimes-Christian, sometime-pagan histories. (And perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not, a vaguely Trinitarian relationship -- as in Father, Saint and Spirit of Christmas.) So even if you don't want to recognize Jesus as anything special, its multifaceted history still gives special meaning to the Christmas season.

But I get it. Christmas has become so commercialized that we are trained to start thinking of purchasing commodities as soon as the Halloween decorations are put away. But Christmas is not, historically, a commercial holiday. In fact, it's only when we give into the idea that we, as consumers, are obligated, as consumers, to buy buy buy spend spend spend, as consumers, that we run into this problem. But that's defeatism. We are not, essentially, consumers in this season. We are human beings, celebrating the longest night of the year, however we define it in its essence. And if we truly believe there is something special about Christmas, there is no earthly reason not to start a bit early, not to enjoy this beautiful season to its fullest, and throw off the yoke of materialism as some fleeting trend that humanity was temporarily enamored with, like planking. Or the Steve Miller Band.

Or you can go on pretending a turkey (which you can eat anytime) and giving thanks (which you can do any time) deserve a whole month. Pffffft.

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