Musing on Christmas Traditions
Hello Drunken Space Penguins, my name is William and I’m an alcoholic...Oh wait a minute this is not a twelve step program; also I’m not much of a drinker. Now that we have gotten that awkwardness out of the way we can get down to what we all came here for, shameful monkey butt loving orgies! What, the orgies are on Thursdays? I guess the only thing left to do is blog.
Like I mentioned above my name is William. Ashley has asked me if I wouldn’t mind penning a guest blog. At first I was hesitate to do this, not only has it been some time since I updated my own blog, I have never been asked to be a guest blogger before. This is an extremely scary thing for me, the reason I rarely blog is because I feel like I have nothing of interest to say. A sentiment my friend and co-writer Michala would greatly disagree with. However I have a topic that I would like do some musing on today.
So what is it that I have decided to share with you fine readers, Christmas. More to the point I would like to share some feelings I have about the Christmas season compared to the rest of the year. Recently I was listening to a podcast where the host bitched about how everything about Christmas is the same. All the movies are the same thing year after year. That there is nothing new; they keep making the same thing over and over. Anything that tries something new is immediately rejected.
It is not only in Christmas movies that we prefer the older, traditional themes. In every Christmas story that we read, in every Christmas song that we listen to, every Christmas special that we watch on the television screen to the decorations we put up. Every year we want to not only recreate the memories of Christmas’ past, but we want to make a connection to a Christmas past that came before we were even born. We want that to experience that Victorian Christmas that Dickens wrote about in A Christmas Carol.
This stands in contrast to the rest of the year. For eleven months we are open to latest things our culture has to offer. Every Tuesday in store across the land you can find what is new in personal media. You can walk into any shopping mall and pick up the latest CD by your favorite artist, a Blu-ray copy of that blockbuster you saw just a few weeks prior, and a book that is sure to be on the New York Times Best Seller list by the end of the week.
I know when I was younger, and had much more disposable income, my best friend Mike and I every weekend would catch at least one if not two new movies. Without fail we performed what became a secular ritual for use for quite a number of years. Every Saturday and Sunday, after we would get off work, we would head down to the River Fall Mall and the Green Tree Cinema see what time the next viewing was, get a bite to eat, walk around the mall and then buy our tickets. It didn’t matter if the movie was good or not, what was important was that we were seeing the latest movies before all our friends did.
You can see how important new things are during this eleven month period. Starting on December 31 we can’t wait to toss the old year out on its rear in and welcome the New Year in with a glass of champagne, a kiss and open arms. Groundhogs Day we want to know just how much longer will winter be hanging around and when it will move on out letting the rebirth of Spring take its place. Even Halloween is an ever evolving holiday. I can remember back when I was a kid, it was only us kids that celebrate the holiday. Our parents sat at home and handed out candy. It was such a kid holiday back then I remember one Halloween the kids I was trick or treating with knock on this one door interrupting a young couple who were just moments from fucking. They shouldn’t have had their lights on if they didn’t want kids knocking on their door.
Now a days Halloween has become much safer for kids, to steal a joke from Jim Gaffigan, it is an excuse for women to dress like hookers. Not all of them of course, but browse the offering for costumes sold to adult females, there is no denying they are somewhat racy. We didn’t carry flashlights back then, and glow sticks were just come out. We went out without adult supervision, stayed out past midnight and walked over half the square mileage of Manhattan, KS. I’m not trying to make a value judgment on which era was better (that is because it is so obvious that it was better when I was a kid) I just wanted to point out how times have changed and that we have embraced newer dynamics in the way we celebrate this ancient holiday.
The first Christmas tradition that I would like to talk about can be divided into three parts. The reason I’m combining these three is because they are all variation on a theme, which is the first complaint, Christmas has become too commercialized. Many people believe the focus of the season has shifted away from the celebration of birth of their Lord and Savior Jesus and has become all about the purchasing of gifts. For these people the shift from religious festival to a secular holiday is one of a number of signs this country has turned its back on God and is heading down the wrong track.
Then there those people who get upset when Christmas merchandise starts to appear in the store before Halloween arrives. It seems like almost everybody in the United States loses their shit over this one, and I for one cannot understand why. First of all I love it when the Christmas decorations start to arrive in the store. I love it so much that I wished they had a section of the store dedicated to Christmas merchandise all year long. Anytime I hear somebody complaining about this I want to tell them just ignore it, it is not hurting you in the slightest. I would give the same advice to people who complain about junk mail and spam.
The finally thing people like to complain about is Black Friday. I come to the conclusion about people who complain about Black Friday, these are the kind of people who think they are better than everybody else, the snobs. These are the same people that will gleefully tell you that they don’t watch television and turn down their noses at the mere thought of the sporting event. They make sure everybody knows that they think the people who are waiting in line for the doors of Wal-Mart to open up are nothing more than mindless drones sucking off the teat of mother corporate America. They say all of this while hoping you don’t catch them in line to get that television that is on sale, the one that they don’t watch.
There are far more positive traditions we all associated with Christmas. Whether they are traditions that are within our families, in our communities or as a whole world (those parts that recognize the holiday). Every household, every year puts up a Christmas tree, but each individual family has their own way of going about it. There are some families that put the tree up as soon as they possibly can. As soon as Thanksgiving dinner is over with they are breaking out the ornaments and sing O’ Christmas Tree as they string up the lights. Other families wait until the week before Christmas to get everything set up. What kind of tree are you putting up; do you have fond memories of Christmases past and the woodsy smell of a real tree? Or do you skip the headache of searching lot after lot not only to find the best deal, but to find that tree that is completely symmetrical. To make sure there are no gaps in your tree you go with an artificial one.
What would the holiday be without all the Christmas specials? Every year the movies studios and the television stations create tons of new media try to get our attention. Every now and then one or two, say A Home Alone, A Die Hard, or Scrooged breaks through and joins the ranks of such beloved classics as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, A Christmas Carol or Frosty the Snowman. All of the other contenders are never heard from again. Why do some new special make it in while others don’t? What I believe is that those that make it through connect with that feeling of tradition. They find a way to take what we all hold dear and find a new way of looking at it. Whereas those that fail never try to connect us to those feelings.
The final thought I would like to leave you dear readers is that Christmas is a time of year to slow down and to reflect on life. Not only about the twelve month period that we have just lived through, but our lives and our society in general. It is a time to see just how far was come and to think about where it is we want to be when Christmas comes back around the next year. It is time to cherish those that we love, let the new people in our lives know how glad we are they have entered our lives, and to not only miss but to honor those that are no longer with us.
For eleven months out of the year we are witness to all the hardships that come with living in a modern human society. We see how cold and cruel the system can be to each and every one of us, especially the less fortunate among us. So please don’t forget another one of the Christmas tradition, seeing after your fellow man. When you are exiting the department store, do not blow by the bell ringer, dig into your pocket and place something in the bucket. Even if it is just the change the cashier just handed to you, it is better than nothing. If you can afford to do so donate a toy so a child doesn’t wake up Christmas morning with nothing under the tree.
Bless those who are not are not as blessed as yourself.
By William G. Muir