Well readers, it’s that time of year again. Mildewed jack-o’-lanterns are being unceremoniously swept away from doorsteps as families hang lights and holly around their homes. Carols are beginning to play in stores across the nation and cheery folks, bundled up in their coats, are already beginning to make their lists. The elves and reindeer aren’t waiting for December and so, readers, neither shall I. And let me kick off the holidays here at Culture War Reporters by declaring this:
I hate Christmas.
Generally speaking, I always have.
And my family did celebrate the holidays, with my parents (who make Buddy the Elf look like Ebenezer Scrooge) even making a few luckless attempts at getting me to celebrate advent as well.
But for all the zeal my parents had I was generally free from the hustle and bustle of the season. One of the benefits of growing up in the middle of a primarily Muslim country is that one isn’t generally blasted with “Carol of the Bells” until one is prepared to put a drill to one’s head.
Coming to America, that was something I had difficulty adjusting to, to put things mildly. But that’s not the issue I have- not entirely anyways.
It was the expectation.
You’re allowed to not be a fan of other holidays. Skip the barbecues and fireworks during the 4th of July and most folks won’t call you a traitor. Spend MLK Day sleeping in and you’re not likely to be accused of bigotry. Dip out on Easter, Labor Day, Halloween- nobody really cares.
Say that you don’t like Christmas and folks will wonder what kind of monster you are. What kind of miserable, traumatic event happened to you that you’d even dare to speak ill of Christmas. What a hateful, twisted creature you must be, needing to be either feared our rescued.
Now some of you are probably shaking your heads in wry disbelief, doubtlessly thinking “That’s exactly what a Grinch would say!”
Then what about the current Starbucks coffee cup controversy?
For anyone unaware, certain Christian groups have raised havoc over Starbucks’ new holiday design- or lack thereof. Rather than squirt pretentious, overpriced coffee into red cups with faint snowflake and ornament decals on ’em Starbucks is now squirting pretentious overpriced coffee into simple red cups.
Which, in the words of Evangelical commentor Joshua Feuerstein is because “…they hate Jesus.”
While that statement is extreme (and idiotic beyond comprehension), it’s received a disturbing degree of support in the way of over a hundred and seventy thousand “likes”.
Not exactly encouraging numbers there.
Now some may be swift to point out that these ravings, even ones as nauseatingly popular as this, are still the extreme shock-jockeying views of a small, if nonetheless depraved, minority. And others might cite that the religious right in this country has been wailing about a so-called “War on Christmas” for years now.
But that’s not my problem.
As disgusting (and frankly, blasphemous) as I find these whimperings to be, my problem actually in the reaction of non-Christians. If you read that article I’ve linked from the New York Times you’ll find that the responses to Feuerstein and his ilk are not that grown people should have better things to do than moan about coffee cup decorations, but that the plain red cups “are still celebrating the holidays”.
But why wouldn’t they?
The supposedly secular world is just as psycho about Christmas as their religious counterparts- perhaps even more so. Just take a look at any Christmas movie ever and you’ll get the same ****ing story.
Grrr! Main character (usually some greedy, single, business person) is just too greedy, single and business-y for Christmas!
Horror of horrors! He/she/they aren’t even planning on celebrating Christmas!
But look! Some supernatural force (or pixie-faced female character) is swooping in to show them the error of his/her/their ways!
Aha! The protagonist’s cynical resistance is futile! They have realized the value of family and tradition!
Zey vill never again stray from ze proper path of zeir proper Germanic holiday! Seig heil! Seig heil! Seig-
-sorry. Got a little carried away there. But can we pause and reflect for a minute on just how demented these movies (and the ideology behind ’em) are? Some person- who isn’t even necessarily anti-Christmas- deserves to be punished, cursed even, for not being “cheerful” enough. For not endorsing a bunch of traditions celebrated simply for traditions’ sake.
I was serious about that German comment up above- that’s 90% of Christmas right there.
Candy canes? German. Christmas trees? German. Holly? German. And pretty much every other beloved Christmas tradition has its roots in the pagan traditions of Western Europe. Millions of folks celebrating the season don’t get snow this time of year, and yet snow and snowflakes get plastered on just about everything. We burn logs because, well, that’s what they do in all those Norman Rockwell paintings. We bend over backwards trying to recreate some idyllic holiday that was only ever enjoyed by a handful of people for a very short window in history, and that’s what’s so infuriating. Christians and non-Christians alike lament the supposed loss of the “true meaning of Christmas” or the “reason for the season” whenever there’s even the slightest hint these rites might be abandoned- to the point where Starbucks cups get treated as a source of legitimate debate by otherwise sane people.
And lest anyone consider me some kind of puritanical zealot (I mean, I’d like to think of myself as one, only not on this particular issue), I don’t mind Christmas. I wouldn’t, anyways, if everyone would just ease up on it a bit. We can celebrate the exchange of gifts or the wildly incorrect birthday of Christ without having to collectively take leave our senses.
And if we don’t-
-If we have to, every ****ing year, go a little deeper down the reindeer hole with this nonsense-
Well maybe there should be a war on Christmas.