I generally love the Holiday Season. The house is lit up with thousands of lights, there’s a dead tree parked in the living room, and the stockings are all up hung by the chimney with care. It’s a season for football, family, friends, and fun times. It’s not perfect of course, but I generally find more good in it than bad.
On the downside though, there are things about the Holidays that bug me. People seem over-eager to add creepy new additions to it, and some delight in belittling already established myths for no real reason. Here are a few things that bother me every Holiday Season, and yes “hate” is probably too strong a word, but “Things I Am Bothered By During the Holidays” just felt like too much of a mouthful. It’s all in fun anyways! Happy Holidays.
Super Holiday content at Raise the Horns:
The History and Origins of Santa Claus
The Other Gift Givers: Beyond Santa Claus
Christmas Traditions: Christian or Pagan?
Christmas Is Not Yours or Mine (On the True Origins of the Holiday)
(This article is not about decrying our consumer-heavy Holiday model. That’s way too obvious, and I assume most people have made their peace with that already, one way or another.)
People Need to Stop Desecrating Santa Claus
I’ve always liked the idea behind Santa Claus. He’s sort of the Western World’s last larger than life myth. He’s an excuse to indulge in the fantastic, even for many adults. I certainly don’t believe in Santa Claus as a dude living at the North Pole, but I do think invoking his name and image can be powerful and that it has some real energy. I don’t know if I would go so far as to call him a “god” but there’s some powerful magic out there that we sometimes call “Santa Claus.”
Because I like the guy so much I hate seeing people crap all over his myth. Did you know that Santa delivers his presents via FedEx? Or maybe he ditched his reindeer and sleigh and switched to a BMW? I understand the impulse in wanting to use Kris Kringle to sell stuff, and I’d never argue that his image is completely pure and commercial-free, but I hate seeing his myth garbled up so much.
Santa drinking a bottle of Coke? Fine. Santa ditching his reindeer for a delivery service? Not cool. There really should be some sort of United Nations sanctioned entity that approves (and rejects) Santa Claus related movies or advertisements. If you change the myth too much (Goodbye Santa Clause movies) we get to reject your crappy movie, TV show, or advertisement. Keep true to the myth and you are good to go.
The Elf on a Shelf Is an Abomination
I hate Elf on a Shelf for a number of reasons. The first being that it’s simply creepy looking. That’s not how Santa’s Elves are supposed to look (have you not seen Hermie the Elf from Rudolph?), and am I supposed to believe that all of Santa’s elves look like this red and white nightmare? This thing looks like it was designed for the next Child’s Play movie, not your fireplace mantle.
Santa has always been about the surveillance state. He keeps lists and I’ve seen him use a crystal ball on occasion to see who “is naughty or nice,” but he’s never been super in your face about it. Nightmare on a Chair is designed to stare at you for most of December and probably the last week of November too. It’s like having a Christmas videocamera set up by the stockings. Traditionally Santa has served up gentle reminders via song or a loving parent, not by parking one of his elf-cops in the living room.I also hate that the Elf on a Shelf packaging calls its abomination “A Christmas Tradition.” No, it’s not a Christmas tradition. “Traditions” are earned over time, and we should be slow to embrace new elements to the Santa-mythos (the last one to be added was “Rudolph” which I think is a good one). If society has really decided it needs a bad-behavior-deterrent let’s bring back the Krampus instead. Besides the Krampus is a lot less creepy looking than that stupid elf.
I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas
Somewhere along the line the United States decided that our default expectations for weather should mirror that of the Northeastern section of the country. At one point this made a lot of sense as it was the most populous region of the country, today that’s not really the case but we continue to mirror our seasonal decorations on a Northeastern model. This isn’t so bad if you live in the Midwest or one of the more interior Western states, but for the rest of us . . . . . it creates some rather silly expectations and decorative choices.
“Let it snow” the banners say, but it doesn’t snow in California’s Bay Area in December, or really any other time of year. It’s raining as I write this and that’s as good as it gets out here. I’ve got a better chance of seeing Sasquatch this time of year than a snowman. And yet every holiday special is set in a “wonderland of snow,” while only 26% of America last year experienced a snowy holiday.
We need to stop romanticizing and decorating with snow related things in December and decorate in ways that our region appropriate. Perhaps a “Fog Globe” to represent San Francisco in the Wintertime or a decorative orange tree in Southern Florida? It’s always seemed silly to me to turn what is a rarity for most of the country (and much of the world) into an expectation.
Yes, one dumb asshole hated Starbucks’ red cups this year, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to holiday outrage, and it’s not limited to Christians either. The idea that I celebrate Christmas is completely abhorrent to some Pagans, who argue that by doing so I’m secretly celebrating Jesus or something. “Christ is right there in the title Jason” they tell me. That’s true, but I don’t think we accuse Christians of worshipping the moon every Monday or believe they are honoring Thor each Thursday.
Words evolve over time, and beside’s it’s Christ’s Mass not Jesus’s Mass. Christ is a word that means anointed, and we are free to anoint whoever we want in our house. Holidays are generally a mixture of all sorts of things. There’s no pure Christmas, no pure Yule, and if you want to intermingle the two it’s completely fine. And if you don’t want to mix them up, that’s great too. Just be happy that other people are happy this time of year. If someone wishes you “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Christmas” accept it in the spirit it was said in, there’s enough to be truly outraged about right now, battles over holidays are not worth the energy.
Our Yule Log sits next to an antique Santa Claus who sits next to a menorah. All three objects are flanked by Aphrodite to their left and Dionysus on their right. I love that my holidays are inclusive and pretty much welcome everyone to the party. That’s the way it should be.