...nothing here is promised, not one day... Lin-Manuel Miranda

Merry Already
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I wasn't going to post this until tomorrow, but Word crashed twice as i was writing it so um, I thought I better get it out there before it got worse!

Why is it that people who want to do something can’t do it and enjoy it unless EVERYONE is enjoying it too?

This is not about all those total strangers, like the store clerks who wish me happy holidays or even “merry Christmas”. I know that for the most part, they’re required to do so. Which of course sucks but in a totally different way.

I know this is a groovy time of year for many people, but it’s not a universal groove thing. I look at Christmas cards you know, that were in the store weeks ago and think what do Christians who don’t live in Europe and north America think of all the endless cards and holiday décor with snowmen and sleighs and Santa in his bright winter garb and the whole north pole thing and reindeer? Do Christian kids in the southern hemisphere feel it’s not quite their holiday because the majority cultures on the planet have dictated it’s about cold and snow and winter? (hmmm, does part of the whole poor baby born in a manger bother people because they keep thinking it must have been freezing in there?)

It’s not groovy for me. There’s NOTHING that’s universally groovy and loved. I don’t know how to break it to them but “somebody doesn’t like Sara Lee” and milk doesn’t always do a body good. The catch is that some folks just cannot seem to deal with that concept. Oh, you MUST like X, we’re told. Everyone likes X. Crap – I’ve been on a mystery discussion list for over 10 years; the one thing anyone who’s been there at ALL must get is the wide range of tastes, the huge variety of likes and dislikes. And yet, not too long ago I was told “oh but you must like X” – a mystery television show. And not to be ornery but actually, um, no. I had never watched it.

About 75 to 80% of the population of the US identifies as Christian. That’s heavy duty majority stuff yeah. But that means oh you’re ahead of me again - that 20 to 25% don’t. That’s like 59,000 people. Who all have to put up with 9along with some Christians) the bozo assholes who claim that this is a Christian nation…including Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who should have known better, the bitch. (She later apologized but it was a useless apology where she didn’t mean to “express a personal view” but didn’t withdraw the comments she made.)

So the joy of Christmas exists for many people, I get it, I really do. But among those who are Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, “other” and non-believers, we don’t all want to get down and get Christmas. And it’s so unavoidable.

I know lots of you tire of it too; we almost all have at least one conversation a year about how it’s too early, it’s too commercialized. But on it goes, from the sales freakiness frenzy the day after Thanksgiving to the “décor” on the light poles, to the endless music that starts weeks to early, and I’ve heard in my doctor’s office, my coffee place, and every store in the universe just in case someone missed the fact that Christmas is coming.

I tire of the colors, the tacky decorations, the ads. The humongous explosion of “ornaments” in recent yeas that covers everything from plastic Barbies, star wars, baseball players, crayons, tractors, the Statue of Liberty, Princess Leia in her brass bra (oo a collectible) Muppets GI Joe (that says peace on earth don’t it?) and dear god doesn’t everyone want Gandalf the Gray on their tree? Aieeeee!!!! To miniatures of sports stadiums to anything that can and will be made to hang from a hook. I do a fair amount of shopping at the “Greater Good” sites that support the Literacy site and other “click for free” websites. I went there the other day and was drowned in “ornaments”. – over 100 items made into “ornaments, from “handknit Tibetan mitten ornaments” to Nepalese dolls, doves, antique jade (heh???????)cats, doves, pillows, fish, stars, pink ribbons (oy) and of course, glass stuff. And that’s for what exactly?

I’m not saying people shouldn’t enjoy it. I think celebrations of your faith are great for you if they bring you good feelings. I just wish it were not so invasive, so ever present, never mind so damn hideously commercialized. And OMNIpresent.

I just wish I could get away from it. I don’t want red and green everythings. I don’t want the newspaper with more and more and more ads about the same old shit. Or the “holiday catalogue” that is exactly the same as the “winter” catalogue or the “new year” catalogue with a different cover on it. (When did that start? Poor trees).

When I volunteered at the hospital, there was an almost frantic feeling about decorating (thanks to the head of the volunteer department who was freaky about decorating for EVERYTHING. I dunno but seeing “St Patrick’s Day” “decorations at the nurse’s station would not have ever helped me feel healthier). And she just never got that no one responded enthusiastically to her pleas to help decorate – year round. I’m guessing that a) those who celebrate Christmas had enough decorating to do at home and b) her choices of décor were tacky. Including those ugly already-decorated, thick with stiff ribbons on every square inch fake trees. But I ducked out of that easily. What was harder to deal with was the blinky sweaters that people wore, the “Christmas” jewelry and clothes and whatever. Now again that doesn’t touch me, and I just try to ignore it. That’s the best way to deal with stuff you don’t like or don’t get. Ignore it. I try, I really do. I don’t get “Christmas” sweaters that you wear maybe once a year. I should be glad for people’s childlike whatever and be happy they like their Christmas ties and their Christmas suspenders and their Christmas necklaces. But it was never enough. I always got asked what I was doing for Christmas (Stu got asked every year for something like seven years in his company by the same co-workers who apparently just could not comprehend someone being Jewish). And what did I think of their blinking sweater, wasn’t it adorable? And wasn’t I excited that Christmas was coming and would I be going to visit my mother and what would I be doing Christmas day and did we have a tree and on and on and on. I HAD to be involved even if I didn’t chose to be.

One person asked me once “can’t you just enjoy it for other people?” And I had to say “no. why should I?” (Two years later, her son told her the exactly same thing I did, and THAT time she defended him. To me. I guess hearing it from your kid works.) It’s NOT my holiday, it’s not my religion; celebrating the birth of Jesus does not excite me. I don’t expect you to get all excited that it’s time for a seder. I’m not even an observant Jew, so I really don’t do that, but I cannot imagine, simply can’t comprehend going up to someone and asking if they aren’t all excited that it’s Rosh Hashanah.

And if you don’t get all happy happy, oooo, you’re a “Scrooge”. Or a “grinch”. Oh man. Gimme a break.

For the record, last week I bought a stuffed animal(oh the cutest puppy) for a seven year old girl I don’t know. Seven year old girls should have toys and it was an excuse to go to the best toy store in the world. And I bought a bunch of girly bath stuff and brought it to the women’s shelter where I volunteer. And I’ve got stuff for the food bank put aside. And I’ve got presents to be wrapped and sent. And I’ve been checking out all the charities and figure out which get donations in honor of some friends and family. And I’m going to be baking. And I’ll be sneaking in at least one eggnog latte. All right? Okay?

Jerry Friggin Falwell can descend directly to the hell of his, no, wait, MY, own choosing for his whole rant about “Merry Christmas, friend or foe.” Foe, Pat, foe. But not for the reason you think. Trust me. Wishing me “happy holidays” is bogus too. We all know which “holidays” they are. If you aren’t sure, go to the store and wade through the Christmas CD compilations, and the red sweaters with the reindeer on them. Try to get past the green mittens and the socks with Santa Claus. The sale copies of “Miracle on 34th Street” and “It’s A Wonderful Life”. The boxed cards showing decorated pine trees, a star in the winter sky, carolers and the Virgin Mary. Stockings and tinsel and lights. And hurray for you, you made it to the three cards and some stale chocolate coins from LAST hanu…chanu…hannuk…last’ years holiday. Rah.

Starbucks Christmas blend is good coffee and yeah, I do request (when I buy it) that I get the alternative sticker that says Holiday blend. Of course it’s the same coffee. But speaking as one of the 20 to 25 percent, I think it would be REALLY nice is someone remembered that majority doesn’t mean universality. That it’s an indifferent time of year for many of us. I hurt more. The anniversary of my dad’s death is in November,. It’s a harder time for me.

Christmas is a fine holiday for those people who celebrate Christmas. As is true I guess just about any celebration that you want to celebrate. But what is it with people that you just GOTTA have everyone along? Your enjoyment of the day with those you share it with? Gotta be enough. Okay?

Those of us who don’t do Christmas? We’re fine. Trust us. We have our own important traditions; the biggest one being going to the movies and then out for Chinese food – an ancient practice begun in New York City and carried around the globe, or at least the country. Stu and I used to host an open house on Christmas day – the idea being a) lots of people weren’t Christian and/or didn’t celebrate the day and b) those people who did sometimes needed an excuse to pry themselves away from their loving families after 4 hours of Christmas cheer. “Sorry but we promised these friends we’d stop by their party….”

It’s overwhelming and tedious to be red and greened to death. It’s tiresome hearing songs that have little or no meaning to me broadcast endlessly, in places that normally either are quiet or that offer a wider range of music. It’s a bit tiresome saying for the 5th time “I don’t celebrate Christmas” to someone who asked last year and the year before that and the year before that. Of course we are exempt from the Dreaded Fruitcake Curse. That helps.

Your celebration does not require my jolliness. I hope that if you celebrate Christmas you have a wonderful time, with warmth and love and goodies. If you don’t, I hope you survive and you’re not as churlish as I am. And when we get through it/past it/beyond it , I will wish you all a wonderful 2006 with joy and good health and good friends and good food and love. That okay?

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