Christmas, day Two

I keep getting comments on the “Lists” post, and I also get comments in my e-mail from people too bashful to comment publicly…

[I’m apparently breaking some rule or other by letting the little voices in my head out; they’re supposed to be my secret or something]

…Links directing me to sites detailing the “History of Christmas” and the like. Good natured people trying to make sure I understand the Christian intent of the holiday. I seem to have opened a can of worms here.

So I guess I’ll offer further explanation. For What It’s Worth, I’m a purist on the subject of religion…

[and not much else. I figure religion is one of those types of things where you can afford to be a purist or idealist. After all, if your own beliefs can’t be your own beliefs, what’s the point of claiming anything as being your own]

…either I agree with the main tenets of the faith, philosophy, whatever, or I don’t. If I don’t, then I don’t claim to agree just to put myself in the ‘right’ group. It’s one of the reasons I’m no longer a (practicing or otherwise) Christian. In my experience, most people who call themselves Christian do so because it’s expected of them, and go to church for ‘fellowship’ (What those of us in SF circles get from a good convention) not because they have a ‘belief’ in god. Few of the remainder read the bible, or attempt to find out what it really means to be Christian.

At one point in the past, I was one of ‘the few’. I took the teachings of the church to heart and tried to make sense of what was expected of me as a Christian. I have read a majority of the Bible (can’t say I’ve read it cover to cover) and I’ve read the scriptures of other religions as well. I was one of those ‘born agains’ once; I consider myself fortunate to have fallen off of that wagon.

So, please harbor no illusions about ‘saving’ me (I’ve got a GOOHF card for that) or thinking that perhaps I just don’t get it.

As I pointed out before; Christmas, as a religious holiday, is a Catholic creation. I’ll defer to them as to what that means within a religious context (I ran across an interesting site discussing the twelve days of Christmas while looking around for that site) Yule is also a religious holiday, with it’s own customs.

I celebrate the secularized solstice holiday referred to in the US as ‘Christmas’, which involves a jolly fat guy who delivers presents dressed in a red suit. We spend the holiday with family and friends, giving gifts and trying to brighten the ‘Winter’ (Winter in central Texas is a frame of mind more than anything else; it certainly doesn’t have much to do with the weather) I also spend time reflecting on what the passing of this year means to me, and preparing to celebrate the New Year.

I guess, in a way, I still hearken back to the original ‘holiday’, the classic 12 days. But mine is more like 7 days (or 10 days, from the actual solstice to the end of the year) Maybe I’ll have to make up my own mnemonic song…

Christmas Card humor

So, I got the inevitable link to a flash Christmas card again this year. This one was hiding out on the servers at Reuters, for some reason…

(Editor’s note: it has since been moved. Here’s a link to the author’s site)

Joshua HeldWhite Christmas – Nov 7, 2007

It just so happens that the version of White Christmas being used to backup the animation is one that I have always liked since I heard it featured on The Santa Clause a few years back. Me being the curious foot chewer that I am, I wrote the following:

So who is singing that version of the song? I don’t recognize the singer.

I should have known what kind of response I would get:

not sure who that is????….sounded/looked like santa to me, with a reindeer accompaniment???????? 🙂 but i realize there are a lot of santa impostors out there….nothing is sacred anymore it seems….everyone trying to cash in on holy-days seasons…..aloha

Yeah, I really set myself up for that one, didn’t I?

So who is the voice behind the big red guy? Well, I tracked down the singers on my own. It would be The Drifters. I’m going to put it on my to buy list for next year. Have a Funky Christmas.

Christmas lists…

“Dear Buddha, I would like a pony and a plastic rocket…”

Malcolm Reynolds

I have a different kind of list in mind. A list of standard rants that I just want to get off my chest. The opportunity for them occurs nearly every “Holiday Season”. So let’s just get to it, shall we?

First.

Every year, I hear the same thing. “Holiday this” and “Holiday that” and the counter mantra “they’re taking god out of Christmas”. There seems to be some confusion about the origin of ‘Christmas’. Let’s see if we can clear this up, eh?
Christmas is a ‘bastardization’ of “Christ’s Mass”, which is a Catholic celebration. The Catholics, being the earliest example of ‘admen‘ on the planet, realized that they could more easily sell their religion if they simply adopted the holidays in the areas that they wished to convert. When they moved into Northern Europe, they took on the holiday known as Yule and incorporated it into their religion as the day of Christ’s birth (even though it’s considered most likely that the date would have been in spring) ergo, “Christ’s Mass”. (Mass being what a protestant refers to as a ‘sermon’) What I’m getting at is, if you are calling the holiday ‘Christmas’ and you aren’t a Catholic, you are referring to the secularized holiday formerly known as Yule. There is no need to further secularize it by calling it a “Holiday”.

(I was at a charter school the other day that is hosted at a Catholic Church, and they actually used the phrase “Holiday Party” to describe the Christmas Party. If there’s one group that should be using the word “Christmas” it’s the Catholics)

So, if you hear me wish you a “Merry Christmas”, it’s because “May your feast of the Winter Solstice be enjoyable” is too cumbersome to say repeatedly.

Second.

“Jesus is the reason for the season”. See the above rant. Axis tilt (22.5 degrees) is the reason for the season. Lack of sunlight causing depression is the reason for the celebration. Marketing is the reason that Jesus is associated with the season.

Admen everywhere should give thanks for their unique heritage; and I really don’t understand a protestants insistance on associating Jesus and the Holiday formerly known as Yule. I thought they wanted to get away from Papal edict?

Third.

For some reason, the last few Christmas seasons have occasioned messages in my inbox exhorting us to rediscover our ‘Christian roots’, telling us to hold tight to our language and our culture. Most of them have declarative statements similar to the following:

“…Christian men and women, on Christian principles, founded this nation, and this is clearly documented.”

Anyone who has done more than a cursory hours worth of work on the subject KNOWS that this is incorrect. If you are talking about the ‘Founding fathers’, then you are talking about educated men for whom the dogma of organized religion represented the belief system of the past. True men of the enlightenment age (most of them) while they still professed a belief in god, they were not ‘Christians’. Fully half of them were acknowledged ‘Deists‘, which is the belief system of the true ‘father’ of the philosophy that is enshrined in the founding documents, John Locke, who first wrote the famous phrase as life, liberty, and estate (Jefferson changed the last to “Pursuit of Happiness” for various reasons)

But, the basis for this (country and philosophy) is not Christianity!

If, however, you are talking about the average people who founded this country…
…Then you would also be mistaken. From Buddhism to Zoroastrianism America has been host to every religion known to man, and those who came here weren’t told to “check their religion at the door”. We don’t even “Speak English” as some of the posts assert (the British would attest to that quite readily) walk into any major city and see how many languages you run across.

While I despise the word “multiculturalism” as much as the next guy (the next guy probably being blissfully ignorant of Postmodernism and it’s adherent’s dismissal of objective reality and reason. Reason being the basis for Humanism and the Enlightenment, this country’s REAL foundations) the “Melting pot” that is America isn’t something that happens instantaneously; and as with any alloy, the base material is changed by what is added.

Yes, I know, I’ve ruined Christmas for you. I’m sorry but, the world isn’t as simple as you want it to be, it won’t change just because you think it should, and like those toys you bought for the kids, it won’t go back in the !@#$%^&*! box so that you can return it to the pimply clerk that sold it to you so that you can just get the preassembled one that has all the pieces in the right place! The kid will be happy for the gift anyway, he probably won’t notice the missing parts, and the world will continue to spin on it’s (tilted) axis whether we will it or not.

Just relax, sit back, and have some more eggnog (or whatever your beverage of choice is) it’s just a few more weeks and then we’ll have a whole new year of problems to deal with. Now isn’t that a refreshing outlook?

…Oh, and Merry Christmas!

“You know what that means…”

I shaved off the beard that I’ve been working on for better than a month. I shaved my face clean today in preparation for the annual visit to relatives that occurs every holiday season. I do this for one reason and one reason only. The only time I’ve worn a beard in this particular relatives presence, she was completely scandalized that I would wear a beard. When I queried her as to the problem with it, her response was “well, you know what that means…”

She’s never completed the sentence. Actually, I do know what it means to me. It means it’s getting colder outside and I want to keep my chin warm. It means I hate shaving and jump at the chance to avoid it (even though ‘beard’ is a loose term for what actually grows) It means I like to try growing a beard every fall. I don’t know what it means to her. I don’t think I actually want to know. Which is the reason that I shaved it off this time. I don’t want to know.

If I can’t get an all-in-one guide to what things mean, then I’d just as soon be spared the tortuous process of figuring out why something totally innocuous, like a beard, means something else to someone else. And since I can’t avoid family, I’ll just shave and avoid the process altogether. It’s the least I can do.

I wonder what she would think if I told her I once had an ear pierced? That I shared earrings with my female friends when we would go to clubs? “Well, you know what that means…”