Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Thoughts on Christmas

This time of year usually finds me hunkering down in an underground cellar somewhere, trying to avoid contact with radio, TV or shop windows. When I do have to go to the grocery store or drug store,  I try to make it as minimal a trip as possible, skipping the usual wander down aisles not related to my grocery list to see if there is anything we need that I forgot to write down. If it can wait until next weeks' trip, it does.

Not that I have anything against Christmas. It is a perfectly legitimate religious holiday for cultural Christians. However, as neither I, nor my partner, consider ourselves cultural Christians, we don't wish it thrust upon our household.

I do have an awful lot against Christmas muzak, blinking strings of light in bright colors and the red and white fluff that seems to take over every storefront in sight starting the day after Halloween. In short, the I spend November and December in the US hiding from the in-your-face commercial loudness of Christmas in the US.

If, in your exuberance over the upcoming holiday, you wish me a Merry Christmas when passing me on the street, I will wish you the same. If your store asks you to wish everyone at the checkout counter "Happy Holidays," I have an issue to take up with your manager.

November and December in the US are filled, for me, of feeling outcast and marginalized a country that is so fundamentally based on religious freedom.


I cannot tell you the relief I feel this year at not experiencing this anger and sadness this year. Maybe it is because My City's and His Town's celebrations are not as garish and loud as in places I've lived in the US. Most of the lights I've seen around have been the simple strings of white light, which can be quite pretty.

Maybe it's because muzak is less of a thing in the places I find myself now a days. I spend a lot of time every week in airports and train stations, waiting, and window shopping. My main disappointment this Christmas shopping season has been that the earrings that I really liked but didn't buy before Thanksgiving at Claire's are no longer there, the display having been replaced by seasonal earrings featuring glitter and red bows. If I walk into one shop to hear Christmas muzak, I wander out and into the next one, which isn't playing it. No one, not one, clerk has yet to wish me Merry Christmas, or Happy Holidays.

I should point out that both His Town and My City are in countries that have a much closer constitutional relationship with Christian Churches than the US.

Neither University E, nor University F, have put lights up on campus. I am not aware of a "Holiday Shrub" hanging out in the student center or main quad anywhere. Though His Town did put up lights a few weeks ago, with a big todo involving Batman, Santa and fireworks. There is also a large tree in one of the main squares (in the center of a shopping district) in town. My city has Christmas markets up, including little kids rides.

Maybe it is that I am not keyed into the things that these cultures do for Chirstmas, so I am not noticing them as they happen. Maybe in a few years, local Christmas practices will grate on me as much as the ones in the States did. Maybe the European caricature of the US is correct: all the religious fanatics from this continent fled to North America, which explains much of its current state.

Whatever the reason, I am grateful to feel included as a resident of my two cities, not by any active act, but by just being left in peace.

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