R.L. SAUNDERS

writer attempting real life in the middle of everybody else's vacation

Merry ambiguously interpretive wintertime holidays.

on December 16, 2011

Is it just me or is there a harder-than-usual sell this year to keep the Christ in Christmas via Facebook campaigns and holiday cards complete with pleas, demands, and dares to see the light? I got pamphlets in some cards this year. Pamphlets.

That would be a little disingenuous, don’t you think? For me to take up Jesus once a year to avoid scrutiny and judgment during my Christmas celebration?

I’m convinced there are double HeavenRewards points awarded for each heathen saved during the month of December. And hey, I’m easygoing enough. I’ll watch the demo or sign something if it’ll help your end-of-year numbers. I just can’t promise my soul.

Likewise, I don’t understand why “Xmas” makes some people gasp, genuflect, and perform the sign of the cross. Or why generically inclusive “happy holidays” greetings are so offensive. And I know I’m not even sort-of alone on this.

If you enjoy a season full of Jesus and you’re genuinely afraid these things could strip Jesus out of Christmas against the will of those who share your convictions, that’s fascinating to me. But then, I also think there’s more than one way to Good, so what do I know about convictions?

I grew up celebrating Christmas. It makes me feel happy and sparkly and squishy in the heart. Even the godless love pretty lights, traditions, warm memories, and cookies, after all. Still, my hosanna-free celebration is of great concern to a few of my family members and that makes me sad.  I adore almost every single one of them, so I hate that their time and energy is being chucked down the black hole that is my lost soul.

Nonetheless, the only time they’ll hear me say “Jesus Christ” this month is if they’re in the room when I open my post-Christmas shopping bank statement.

The spending pain will subside, though, just in time to watch the kids open stuff, even if they aren’t doing it in the name of God. Stuff! New stuff! LOOK MOM! Santa brought us MORE STUFF! For our stuff collection! And yes, I expect them to be charitable and to think of others, too. At least during the Xmas season. After that, they can turn their bedroom crucifixes back upside down and resume eating puppies in their closets.

Even more than I like watching the kids enjoy their shiny new stuff, I like our Martha Stewart pre-lit Christmas tree. It takes five minutes to assemble and inspires awe for a month. We got it at an after-Christmas sale a few years ago at our island Kmart and it’s still delivering. If it dies next year, it will only have cost us ten bucks per Christmas!

I love catching the two youngest lying on their backs, faces up with heads jammed against the green metal trunk base. Is there anything more beautiful than the inside of a cheap, fake tree? My kids think not.

I’d tell you the reason we don’t use real trees is that they’re fire hazards or because we dislike the idea of cutting down living trees (actually, those things really are about 20 percent of it). But the truth is that decent pine trees are hard to come by in Key West. And they’re pretty fucking expensive, too. See, if we buy a real tree, our kids will get less stuff. And I’m not sacrificing their true happiness for some earth-grown tree experience. They can see real pine trees when we visit my God-fearing relatives (and the other ones) up north.

Yep, I enjoy Christmas for lots of reasons. And as much as I love my bible-thumping extended family and friends, there’s nothing about how they feel that compels me to believe Christmas is any more theirs than mine.

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10 responses to “Merry ambiguously interpretive wintertime holidays.

  1. Steve W says:

    This is spot on. How did our souls get so corrupt when we got such a good Godly upbringing?

    Christmas is by far my favorite holiday, for all the same reasons you said above. But it is a Holy Spirit-free zone and I like to keep it that way! Hey, I’m happy with it, right?

    • rhondasaunders says:

      Right on, Steve. Sometimes I feel like wearing a t-shirt with a smiley face on it that says, “Whatever.” But in a good way.

      (Hey, thanks for reposting on your FB wall, too!)

  2. Kimberley says:

    Hilarious! I, too, have a pre-lit Martha Stewart tree purchased on sale at kmart after Christmas. Cats don’t try to climb them. Plus it was cheap.

  3. Kathleen Zavala says:

    Insightful always keep it up…..

  4. David L says:

    Good one…..

    I have also been surprised this year at the (seemingly un-Christian-like) behavior of the anti-“Happy Holidays” folks. I’m guessing it’s a side effect of the Faux News “War On Christmas” campaign. Insecure people read persecution into such trivial things.

    I recently commented (on somebody’s Facebook post) about how “Happy Holidays” is a correct statement to use for the COLLECTIVE set of upcoming holidays (Christmas, New Year, New Year’s Eve, Hanukkah, other vacation days), but that Merry Christmas is fine when referring to Christmas itself. The fact that I accepted the use of “Happy Holidays” AT ALL drew extreme ire from most of the other followers of the (conservative-oriented) person’s wall . Raves about how we’re in a CHRISTIAN NATION dammit, and other such religious bigotry — and I had made it clear that I did NOT have any beef with “Merry Christmas”. If I weren’t AGAINST “Happy Holidays”, by default I .was anti-Christmas.

    Coincidence: while typing this, “This American Life” on NPR is playing and the story includes graphic illustrations of fanatical behavior in the name of religion…

  5. Linda says:

    Happy Hanukkah, lovey! 🙂

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