I am not a fan of Christmas. Admittedly, there are a few good things about it: the pretty lights, a general spirit of giving, and peppermint lattes. As for the rest of it, I could just soon as do without, especially the one thing that makes Christmas, well, Christmas. That one thing is not holiday cheer, nor is it a sense of peace on Earth and good will towards mankind. It’s certainly not the birth of Christ, though that factors into things.
What Christmas means to me can be summed up in one word: GUILT.
Christmas is the ultimate Christian holiday, despite its pagan origins. No other holiday so profoundly epitomizes Christianity and what Christianity is all about.
The holiday is supposed to be about the birth of a Savior who delivers sinners (even those people who never had a shred of mean in their being and therefore were never guilty) from their own sins. Enter Guilt Trip Number One.
Guilt Trip Number Two is the circumstances of the birth of the suspiciously Osiris-like deity: He is born of a virgin. I keep meaning to write a short story about a confused and miserable Bronze Age Persian woman who becomes pregnant via a love affair and tells her naïve, superstitious husband that it’s God’s baby. Expecting fully to be stoned to death, to her own surprise, she gets away with it and furthermore, she is blown up into an equally miserable and confused celebrity because of her “virgin birth.” How very sad that Christians have to feel so guilty over sex that their god on this Earth cannot even be conceived the usual way. How typical of Christians, with their death-fetish, to pretend ghosts can get women pregnant and that would be somehow superior to two humans physically expressing their mutual sexual desire for each other.
Guilt Trip Number Three is that the holiday revolves around BABIES BABIES BABIES and children. Babies because human infants have no knowledge of the dying, insane, overpopulated world they have been unwittingly brought into. Poor little innocents, so doomed and so like Jesus; this is their day in the sun. Children, who are abjectly worshipped and molly-coddled by American society in particular, find the whole culture tripping over itself to indulge every material fantasy of what childhood is “supposed” to be. This results in a cascading orgy of materialism and junk, serving a dual purpose of reinforcing the meme that having children a.k.a. “a family” is the only good choice in life and that an infinite population of unquestioning little consumers is sustainable on a planet of finite resources.
Guilt Trip Number Four is the materialism mentioned in the previous paragraph. Christmas is mostly about throwing our wealth (or our credit) at each other and calling it civilization. Those who cannot afford it aren’t actually exempt as they should be – again, it can be done on credit. Or worse, the poor are recipients of once-a-year charity, allowed to eat a full meal, of dead animals of course, at a banquet paid for by the rich. Meanwhile, the demi-poor and the semi-rich go into staggering amounts of debt financing the child-worship fetish mentioned in Guilt Trip Number Three. They buy gifts they cannot afford for family they may or may not actually like, all so the unneeded material possessions can be ritualistically faux-adored by those who didn’t need them. There is a dollop of extra guilt for feeling guilty for being able to buy stuff on credit when others in the world are starving to death and going without clean water.
Yeah, Christmas isn’t my bag. I’ll go out of my misanthropic box for a second here to make a constructive suggestion or two:
You don’t need to buy anyone anything.
I repeat, stop buying shit.
You sure as hell don’t need to feel guilty.
Just go about your life and do your thing.
The Winter Solstice, which Christmas hijacked, should be about rest, relaxation, and conservation. All animals want to hibernate as days grow shorter and humans are no exception. So let’s devote the winter holiday time to actual relaxation, staying home, and being introverted. How about celebrating being at home and reading a book instead of driving to the mall when it is dark at three in the afternoon to get someone a trinket neither the finite planet nor you can afford?
It’s time we took our Solstice back. Time to sleep in, stay home, and not work so hard. No marathons of cooking, no dead or plastic trees, no wrapping paper, no pretending to like relatives you actually cannot stand. Yule time is your time, not theirs. Should you want quiet time, may you quietly convene for menthol-infused coffee drinks in cafés and rationally assess all that has happened in your life in the past year. May you determine what you are grateful for and what you ought to change with the symbolic renewal of the sun.
Clear the calendar. Enough of Christmas. Boycott it.