Whatever You Call It, Let It Be Merry

I’m really getting sick and tired of hearing all the outrage and debate about what we should be saying, or allowed to say, as the holiday season approaches. Somewhere along the way, probably at the point that our culture started to take a more conservative bent, we lost focus on the true meaning of the holidays even as we thought we were taking up their defence. Call it what you want, the meaning of the holidays has been buried by consumerism and projected politicism. And, before you go congratulating me for saying it, it should be pointed out that neither side is right in this debate.

I’m truly sick and tired of hearing people’s irate tirades on the loss of personal freedoms and political correctness during the holidays. We’ve barely begun December, and already the debate has begun anew in the newspapers; should we be respectful to people who are not of the Christian faith during the holidays, or should we, as a predominantly Christian society, lift a middle finger to the air and contemptuously shout “Merry Christmas,” just to spite them all?

I am not a Christian.

Before you say that whether you are a Christian or not has no bearing on whether you should be allowed to say “Christmas,” stop and think for a few seconds (I know, for some, this will be hard… the thinking or the stopping part.) What the hell are you celebrating on the 25th of December? If it’s family, friends, companionship, good will and all that rot, you aren’t celebrating Christmas. If you’re celebrating the fictional birth of a bastard child, you’re still not celebrating Christmas, but at least you’re closer to accurate.

Christmas is a religious holiday. Give your head a shake… CHRIST-mas, for fuck’s sakes! To be anything but a Christian and claim to be celebrating Christmas without celebrating the Christ component is nonsensical. It’s a truly great thing to celebrate friendship and family and peace, but without Christ in the equation, it isn’t Christmas that you’re celebrating. Who knows what you could call it, but “holidays” doesn’t see all that inappropriate. If you want to call it Christmas because it’s the more popular or common monicker for the occassion, great, but that’s hardly good enough reason to get irate when people suggest that you call it something else instead, since you aren’t truly celebrating the holiday in its religious configuration.

This is why I don’t get bent out of shape when someone says “happy holidays” to me; I am not a Christian, so whether I refer to the holiday colloquoially as Christmas or Holidays is really quite irrelevant. It’s the sentiment beneath the wish that matters most. “Happy Holidays” to me? Rock on like a hurricane with your bad self, and have a happy holidays to you too.

If you are not a Christian and you get worked up about people referring to the holidays as holidays, you’re making the sentiment of the season political, and that’s just sick. What you’re saying is “Why the hell should I change the way I speak about a holiday I celebrate because of people who have come to my country who don’t celebrate the same holiday?” You’re not defending Christmas anymore, you’re defending something completely different. Ethnocentric cultural protectionism, is what I would call it; you’re declaring your culture superior to others and defending it against the intrusion of others.

Now, if that isn’t a seasonally appropriate display of peace and brotherly love, I don’t know what is.

Now, if you’re a Christian, you’re still a moron. It is well documented that the birth of Christ is celebrated on the 25th of December not because the little dude was born on that day, but because a political decision was made by a Roman emperor to merge the nativity story of the Christian Bible with the existing festivals celebrated by the pagans, thus bringing disparate factions together. Christ, as the story goes, was actually born on a completely different date. So all you high and righteous defenders of the great Christian tradition are, in effect, defending a political holiday in the name of your faith, rather than the faith that you hold so bloody dear. Let’s call this theocentric cultural protectionism; you’re declaring the supremacy of your religion in our society, and defending any symbol, accurately representative of this religion or not, against the intrusion of other faiths.

Seriously? “Peace on earth and good will among Men?” I’m pretty sure the Holy himself would not have been so petty as to quibble over a name on a calendar, weighed against a day of peace among all people. If he would quibble, he’s a jackass with compromised integrity.

The world is changing, and if you don’t like it and want to resist you already belong on the porch in a rocking chair with a spitoon, a glass of water for your dentures, a musty urine smell and fond memories of how things were “back in my day.” We live in a global environement. Technology and advancements in travel have made the world much smaller than it once was, and so we are going to come into contact with other cultures more than ever before. It’s arrogant and puerile to act as though we are somehow inherently more important than anyone else because of our traditional cultural beliefs, and it’s just plain fucking ridiculous to get riled about whether we can call a holiday by a particular name when, in fact, none of us are calling it by that name for the right reasons to begin with.

That said, the multi-cultural apologists are wrong here, too. Do you get bent out of shape because a person puts up a Christmas tree in a public place? Seriously? A fucking tree has nothing to do with Christianity, either; as a matter of fact, it can be argued that the display of a Christmas tree is like the display of an idol, which I believe the Holy Dude was a little outspoken against. I should be more worked up about all the bloody religious symbols I see all over the damn place, as, again, I am not a Christian. A tree is not something to make a big deal about unless you are trying to ram your own political agenda down someone’s throat, or just plain provoke.

The meaning of the season has been lost beneath all this bullshit, and I blame each and every one of you for it. This season is supposed to be about setting aside differences, trying to see the good, and trying to find a common ground with people who might not seem the same as yourself. The holiday is supposed to represent the best of our possible natures, and the peace that would come from living that better nature every day. It’s supposed to be about setting aside differences and disagreements for the sake of brotherhood. It’s about friends, and family, and striving to understand and relate. I don’t care if you’re Christian, Atheist or worship a Chia-Pet, if you can’t grasp the concept of “Peace on earth and good will among Men,” you have no business celebrating this holiday season no matter what name you plaster on it.

At the Trans Siberian Orchestra show this year, which I attended for my first but certainly not last time, I heard the line “It should be Christmas every day.” That’s the meaning to the holiday; we should exhibit the qualities we celebrate on Christmas day every day of the year. But, because we’re too petty and small and human, that’s just not possible. So, instead, we try our best to do these things on at least this one day of every year, because there’s the hope that one day will become two, and two will become four. So long as we all sit around sniping and bitching about what name we can call a day by, and whether a tree is an appropriate fixture for a lobby, one day will never be two. Hell, one day will barely be that.

Grow up.

Happy fucking holidays.

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