Ponder this:

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Winter, holiday bigotry, country talk, and other things

I have given in and had the snow tires put on. Much as I would like to believe that the weather will continue as unseasonably warm as it has been, we're bound to get winter sooner or later. The roads are clear and dry now and I can feel my tires' metal studs wearing down as I drive. It almost makes me wish for snow. Almost, but not quite.

When I was very young and lived on the way out country dirt road, we would always speak of the paved road at the bottom of the hill as "the state road." I wouldn't have been able to think of the route number off the top of my head, but recognized it when somebody else identified it that way. The reminder was Club 29, a bar with a pretty-colored neon sign that I passed every day on the school bus. As I recall, it was almost next door to the Catholic church. In hamlets, that's the way things are: everything is cheek by jowl with everything else.

Now once again I live on a way out country dirt road and my travel is mostly on or near or across two-lane paved state routes. The roads have names, but the names change as you travel along from hamlet to hamlet, so in conversation, everybody uses the route numbers to identify locations. "Up (or down) 145...", "...over on 443," "Down 30...", "Y'go over 7, up 145 to 10, follow 10 to 162, turn on 165..." Maybe somebody should devise a game, something between Bingo and Uncle Wiggily, just for the local denizens . . . sales of it could be a fund raiser for flood relief.

Somebody sent me an email two days ago with a link to an evil little song discouraging Christmas shopping in non-Christian establishments. The issues I have with the song are many. I deplore the Us and/versus Them premise, but the thing that really pisses me off is that the lyrics indicate a certain willful ignorance. The last lines of the song, "Now let's see, if not for Christ's nativity . . . " there would be no Christmas tree, no dolls and trains that Santa brings, no mistletoe, no this, no that, etc. 
I am no religious scholar, but I'm pretty sure that Christianity made use of existing traditions  as it moved up into and around Europe. I love Christmas lights' colors as much as I loved that neon Club 29 sign . . . but I think pretty flashing Christmas lights out in the snow don't necessarily have a lot to do with the sacred birth of Messiah. So if I'm going out to buy multi-color lights to celebrate the Savior's birth I guess, if I wanted to, I could buy them from a Jew or a Muslim or whoever offers the best price, and not have my eternal salvation suffer from the transaction.
You know . . . what if your Christmas lights aren't actually "out in the snow"? The people who live where there isn't snow in December had better be a little watchful about their celebration habits, or the American Christian Life United folks might be knocking on their doors.

To tell the truth, the first thing that set me off, as I watched the youtube video, was the line that included, "...tryna sell..." 
Is that shorthand for "trying to"?
Whenever you want to raise the rabble, the first step seems to be to dumb it down reeeallll good, so that those who are ruled by emotion rather than any intellectual discipline can say, "They're jes' like us'ns!"

We will now return you to your regular winter holiday celebration programming, whatever it may be.


Friko said...

Yes well, this is all well and good, but where does the Christmas spirit come in? and I don't mean the one in a bottle with a cork.

No religious beliefs in this household worth the mention; Beloved is completely off the Christmas radar except that he wants his turkey dinner with all the trimmings - well, lots of christmassy food really throughout - ; I remember the German traditions and grow weak at the knees, I hang my head in sorrow and weep for days gone by, which never really were the way I remember them.

So bring on the lights, the music (not carols in shops or on the doorstep) the candles and mulled wine, I'm all for it. Absolutely love it. Can't get enough of it.

Festive? No, a great disappointment, every year.

Why do I do it to myself?

Sorry, this doesn't really comment on your post, still feeling a bit weak, in the head as well as the body.

I just simply like your posts too much. You and I have a lot in common.

Muffy's Marks said...

Well said. Some of our righteous American Citizens should go back and read the Constitution, and see what we are all about. If they don't like it, they can leave.

DJan said...

I really get irritated at people who seem to think that I will agree with them and they send me those kinds of things. The Christmas spirit is supposed to be about peace, love, and the birth of Christ. Isn't it? I didn't think it was all about the hype and buy, buy, buy.

esbboston said...

My town sits at the intersection of two highways that have numbers but I've never paid any attention to highway markers after living in the Texas panhandle for nearly forty years, so I don't know the road labels, I just know where to go. There is typically plenty of sunshine and I usually know my N-E-S-W directions. I do know more useless things like practically all the towns populations, well, for the 2000 census anyway. Just getting started with the 2010, they just recently started posting them. I do know most of the county names and which cities are in which county, on which roads, but again, there is the picture of the road, not a number.

Recycled Cottage & Garden said...

I feel the same way about how Christmas is treated by some christians. They really need to learn their history before they start touting their misbegotten ideas and trying to shove them down other people's throats.
My pet peeve is the whole issue of 'xmas'. I wish those that tell us to keep Christ in Christmas and not use the word xmas would learn that X is a 2000 year old symbol for Christ, same as the cross and the fish. Sheesh, learn before your speak, people. I tried to inform friends on facebook last year and got slammed for my effort...oh, well.

Rubye Jack said...

Your journey through hamlets sounds much the same as So Cal--go down the 5, take the 280 over to 15, the 15 to 101...

Christmas is one of those things where it seems easiest to hang out with like minded people and ignore the rest. Live and let live.

Grandmother Mary said...

It's a christian celebration on top of the pagan celebration of the dark ending and the light returning. Given their logic we should ask THEM to remember the reason for the season which is actually closer to 4000 years old.

Anonymous said...

@ladyhawthorne- the sign for Christ has been the P entwined with an X. Not the X alone.

Just stopped in after seeing your blog on another's blog roll. I am not overly Christian- but the comments make me feel very unwelcome.

Olga said...

So, do I get this right? We have the baby Jesus to blame for the over commercialism of Christmas?

June said...

The video that inspired (in part) the post: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWrrvQ_3-40

I am sorry if anyone feels unwelcome here. The whole point is that . . . MY whole point is that . . . religion/Christianity ought to be inclusive rather than exclusive.
I've never felt put off by an open discussion of these things. I think that "X" is a widespread symbol for Christ; "X" and "P" intertwined seem, from what I have found, to be nearly as widely used and certainly used in the RC faith.

Linda Myers said...

I love how a religion attached itself to a pagan holiday. Very historical, rich tradition.

Morning Bray Farm said...

There you go again, June... stirring the poop pot. ;) ;) ;)

Loved this post.

Sally Wessely said...

As a Christian, I feel your pain. I understand completely what you are saying. Christmas is so commercialized, so why should someone get upset over where all these material babbles are purchased? I mean, we lost the spirit of it all a long time ago. I think these people are being self-rightous religious bigots. Jesus had to deal with them in his day also. He called them for what they were and are: hypocrites and yes they are also bigots.

#1Nana said...

I'm tired of the conflict. I'll offend if I say Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas. You can't win.

georgia little pea said...

i'm not religious, i don't have a christmas tree, i can't make a snowman because it's summer, chrissie lunch is more likely to be prawns and mangoes rather than turkey and cranberry, and the family have finally jointly agreed that we're too old [mature] to have to stress over buying each other pressies we mostly don't want [like] anyway. hallelujah.

signed, The Grinch.

p.s. bigots suck in any season.

June said...

Nana: I believe that it is the hearer's choice to take or not take offense. Ergo, I say whatever I feel like saying, or what seems to be the most applicable to THEM (because that's the polite thing to do), and go on my way.

Rebecca said...

...pretty flashing Christmas lights out in the snow don't necessarily have a lot to do with the sacred birth of Messiah.

I agree! And this statement helped me figure out my dilemma about Christmas celebrations. Thank you!

Vicki Lane said...

And THAT is my problem with ALL organized religion -- it always seems to come down to a THEM vs. US mentality.

But we have a Christmas tree and send Christmas cards -- even though I really consider the whole thing a solstice celebration -- like Friko I remember the days gone by -- days when I believed in Santa and the three Kings and the Miracle in the manger -- beautiful memories.