All entries for Tuesday 19 December 2006

December 19, 2006

It's … Chrissmas

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Christmas time again … this year it’s been a bit easier – one because I’m single so no anxiety about buying the wrong presents. You’ve seen the ad on the BBC with the guy buying his wife a digital radio and getting the present right, but getting it wrong altogether because he hadn’t spent enough money. That was me, never quite getting my head around what I was supposed to do and getting more and more stressed.

Secondly because of Val, my colleague, who announced that she was donating the money on cards to a charity instead. Brilliant. That let me off the hook with cards at work. I donated a couple of tenners to Childline and then could tell everyone what I’d done rather than sending out the cards. I have to explain that it’s not because I’m sensitive or anything, but just lazy and guilty about looking cheap. Once that’s out of the way, it’s done.

I’ve also luckily got a slipped disc, which is a great excuse not to have to do anything.

It’s not that I hate Christmas, I hate having to do things I don’t want to, just because you’re expected to. I figure holidays should be fun, not work. The one thing I’m going to miss is buying a tree with my partner from her local garden centre. I disapprove of real Christmas trees too (eco reasons) but it was kind of fun, and the garden centre we got it from always had the freakiest Christmas displays. The other tradition was getting the ugliest ornament I could find for my fake tree. Last year it was some sort of squidlike thing from a Christmas village in Tennessee (an entire retail park, dedicated to Christmas, all year round).

It’s mainly the excess, the buying presents that no-one wants, the parties with people you don’t like. There’s good stuff too, Doctor Who, lots of alcohol, a week off work.

But it’s also the way that we’ve lost touch with the real meaning. Part of the problem is with the way it’s associated with Christianity, I guess. Most of the real spiritual stuff for me pre-dates the Christian influence. It’s the whole thing about the renewal of the year, the turning point of the seasons, the promise of the future. If we had more of that and less of these modern trappings of wise men and mangers, and saviours and so on. Calling the festival Christian is like calling a stolen car yours just because the serial numbers have been filed off and it’s had a quick respray. The whole commercialisation of it just finished it off. Death to Santa, bring back Father Christmas.

I always struggle with what to call it too. I tried the Solstice, but that sounds a bit poncy. I’ve just sent out an email wishing people a happy Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa, Yule, Brumalia, Sankranti, Lenaea, since the list included Jewish, Christian and Greek recipients (they still worship Zeus et al there, I learned recently). Lenaea sounds cool, it’s the festival of the Nine Wild Women apparently.

With a bit more research I find out I missed out Alban Arthuan, Inti Raymi, Shab-e Yaldaa, Mi na Nollaig, Dies Natalis Invicti Solis, Jol, Rohatsu and Saturnalia. Although further research might reduce that list (Rohatsu isn’t really connected with the Solstice but with Venus) that’s still a bit of a mouthful.

I’m not going down the Winterval route, because that’s just too PC. Which is why I liked “Chrissmas”. It’s something I came across in a blog discussing the same unease I’m discussing here, so using the same list of solstice celebrations. Like me, the blogger wanted a way to take part in the festival, but do it in his/her own way, and do it without having to get into lots of explanations about the differences. The concept is that if you call it Chrissmas, no-one can actually hear the difference, but you know it’s not Christmas. So Merry Chrissmas everyone.

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