Friday, December 16, 2005

HAVE A GROOVY HATE FUCK CHRISTMAS! Last weekend I went to a Feast of St. Lucia party in Greenpoint. St. Lucia is an Italian saint (there is a church in Carroll Gardens called Mary Star of the Sea) whom the Swedes have adopted as their patron, maybe because her very name means "light," and her martyrdom and feast day fall on the solstice as reckoned by the old calendar; in December the Swedes need every reminder of light and warmth they can get. It is also said that, during a terrible famine in Sweden, Lucia appeared on the bow of a boat on Lake Vannern, lighting its way and bearing food to the people on shore.

We ate smorgasbord and drank and stood around the piano singing Christmas carols (old ones like "Good King Wenceslas," with all the verses). Then at a certain hour, as is the custom, with the room lit only by candles, three girls in long white gowns came among us. One of them, the most beautifully Swedish girl you ever saw, with thin eyes and a blockish nose and long, fine blond hair, wore a crown of seven large candles, all ablaze. We sang "Santa Lucia" and dedications were spoken: to absent friends, to the Lutheran pastor who had died that year, to an end to the war in Iraq.

I was feeling pretty damn warm and Christmasy over this. Let's face it, all cold-clime people need a winter carnival -- even the irreligious. When you aren't particularly God-bothersome, but open to human experience of all kinds, any taste of ritual and transcendence you allow yourself will be especially potent. (Moderation is good for some things, after all.) Though I don't worship Jesus, I observe his values -- can't help it; cultural thing -- and I enjoy being among folks who not only observe but celebrate them.

Then I got home and turned on the WB-11 News, which had yet another story about the War on Christmas. Apparently some library somewhere gave out a "Season's Readings" card and the card was festooned with Kwanzaa and Hannukah greetings, but while the words "Merry Christmas" were also there in "several languages," an English version was not included. This drew condemnation from some local asshole, and from some Catholic League asshole, and from some asshole teenager who said that it was messed up because "I don't read those other languages."

This was followed by a "health report" about a new form of tummy-tuck

Then you have all the crap like this. (When Sam Johnson said that bit about patriotism being the last refuge of a scoundrel, he obviously never considered the possibilities of the War on Christmas.)

And for a while, of course, I was saying fuck Christmas, fuck Santa, fuck that bitch Mary who got this whole mess started by pretending it was God who knocked her up instead of the cute shepherd boy, etc.

But of course, on sober (or at least slightly less drunken) reflection, I can see that Jesus, Santa, and the whole charming cast of cartoon characters should not be blamed for the degeneracy of those who exploit them. And, in fact, those of us who are inclined to enjoy any of these Festivus appurtances should be doubly grateful this year.

After all, these War on Christmas nuts are out there bellowing on the steps of cathedrals about how evil we are, while we get to stay indoors wrapping gifts for our loved ones. While the WOC guys are using Santa and Jesus as weapons -- indeed, seem only to know that use for them -- we get near-exclusive use of them as symbols of hope, humanity, and good fellowship. When they watch "A Christmas Carol," they think, I'll bet those dirty hippies would have a heart attack if they saw me watching 'A Christmas' THAT'S RIGHT I SAID CHRISTMAS! 'Carol.' We, on the other hand, actually get to watch the movie, and share in the lushness of Dickens' conception, the hammy charm of Alistair Sim, and the marvelous spectacle of a man brought back to his lost humanity.

They get, because they chose it, a Day of Wrath, leaving Christmas to us. Thanks, morons!

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