Mean Spirits

I'm as susceptible to Christmas blues as anyone. I agree that expectations get out of hand, the stress level can be just stupid, and I often stop and wonder WHY am I doing this again?
And yet, I composed a blog post in my head entitled "Bah Humbitch" upon reading a Leah McLaren column that told everyone not to send her Christmas cards, especially with stupid pictures of their children wearing Santa suits or antlers. And I left my first negative comment at a blog I generally really like today (not a 'you suck and you're stupid and I hate you' comment, just a 'this is a little unfair and I'm a little put out' comment -- I know, it must have really stung, in amongst all the comments telling her how fantastic and wise and one hundred and forty percent correct she is). And for the life of me, I can't really figure out why.
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Okay, maybe I can, in the case of the Leah McLaren piece (it's called 'I'm Not on Your Christmas Card List this Year? Cool', and I've tried to link to it seven fucking times and the the page disappears every time, which makes me even madder). I'm used to Leah McLaren being bitchy and superior -- it's part of her schtick. But somehow, her snarking about how Christmas cards are meaningless because corporations also send them out and they've been replaced by social networking and they're bad for the environment (puh-lease!) made me instantly livid. Because Christmas cards is one part of Christmas that I'm actually quite good at. I don't send them to the people I'm on Facebook with, people who read my daily status updates -- I send them to my old university professor and my relatives in Saskatchewan, people who are interested in our lives and like to see yearly pictures of the children. I write a few paragraphs in each card, a lot of the same stuff but slightly modified for each person. I totally get that most people would find doing this arduous and overwhelming. But I like writing. I like framing our small adventures and domestic blessings. It's enjoyable for me, and by all account, also for the people who receive them.
I like getting Christmas cards too. I like seeing how babies turn into toddlers and then real grown-up people. I keep most of them and look them over the next year when I unpack the decorations. Sometimes I string them with old Christmas pictures on ribbons and hang them around the house.
So why do I give a crap that Leah Mclaren hates Christmas cards? I guess I don't, really. But I reserve my right to proclaim that she's full of shit. Does the fact that I get a Christmas card from my financial advisor and car dealership cheapen the ones I get from my husband's grandmother and my best friend from grade 3? Not in the least, and it's just stupid to say it does, in my opinion.
I don't think I even have the energy to get into the other thing. I get that Jewish people must suffer from Christmas fatigue. I've never been one of those people writing into the paper asserting my right to shout 'Merry Christmas' in everyone's face and deck the world with tinsel and holly. But things like strangers telling your children they'll get presents if they're good and stores telling children to write wish lists and they'll be fulfilled are inappropriate no matter what -- those people and those stores would be offensive at any time of the year. And how much energy can we put into enumerating all the people we might offend before we say or do or decorate or sing anything? Eve brought home a dreidl that she made in class yesterday, and tomorrow they're making gingerbread houses. They collect food for Christmas hampers and toys for Toy Mountain. They know there are kids in their class that don't celebrate Christmas.
I've lost my thread. Maybe it's just one of those things like being able to make fun of your own family but getting pissed off when someone else does. I know there's a lot of crass commercialism and cloying sentimentality associated with Christmas. I work quite hard to avoid bringing that into my home, and to expose my children to the best aspects of the holiday, and I guess it just stings when it feels like some people only acknowledge the negative.
So I will now take a breath and try to dig out my peace on earth and goodwill towards other bloggers. Even the ones who hate Christmas cards and Santa.

Comments

Anonymous said…
I am PHENOMENALLY bad at Christmas cards. I always plan to send them out, and I only remember about 50% of the time. However, I will say that I love to receive them, whoever they're from.

The Christmas commercialism is crazy, no two ways about it. And I can see why it would be particularly annoying if you didn't celebrate the holiday. But I can also see how it's hard to read someone else's gripes about something you love. Because, in spite of the obvious flaws, I love it, too.

Merry Christmas! ;)
Anonymous said…
I didn't take it personally. I think you might have misunderstood my post as anti-Christmas. I think Christmas is a lovely holiday, and I am always honored when believers invite us to join in this most holy of days. But the obsession with Santa is exhausting for non-Christian parents this time of year.
Anonymous said…
I'm going to be one here who says, "YOU are 140% correct!" You take from this wonderful holiday season what means something to you and celebrate it. What's the big deal? So everyone is a little happier around this time. So people exchange gifts. So a man in a jolly red suit brings kids toys. So you get invited to a holiday party. So you get a newsy note, complete with pictures of the kids disguised as a Christmas card. So? What's the big deal? I love this post. Peace on Earth and Goodwill towards You! You rock!
Amber said…
I love getting cards. Perhaps because it is one thing left in the holidays that connects people together. I'd much rather get a card with a personal note in it than a gift for example. Catching up with people, even if only once a year is really special and my favorite part of any holiday. And I couldn't care less if said card was bedazzled in all things Santa. If that is the way the card giver rolls then so be it.
Mary Lynn said…
I'm on the same page as you...I like sending cards and I like receiving them. I generally send to people who don't tend to read my blog or use Facebook much. I actually have a fair number of friends and relatives who are not at all into social media. I include a picture of the kids, too. If they don't want it, they're welcome to pitch it, but should I leave it out when the vast majority of people I know actually DO appreciate it?

As for greetings, part of my problem is that hubby and I are not at all religious. My vision of Christmas is more of a secular celebration of family (that's not my parent's vision of Christmas because they actually are quite religious, but that's mine). I have a terrible habit of coming out with "Merry Christmas" then realizing I'm saying it to a friend who's Jewish and then stuttering through the last half of the phrase so that I surely must sound like I have some odd speech impediment. Since I'm not particularly religious, it would be so much easier if I just learned to say "Happy Holidays." Oh well. Mind you, I'm more than happy to be wished a Happy Chanukah.
Rosemary said…
I also keep my Christmas cards and take a look through the pile year after year. I love the pictures of the kids and looking back at when the they were little. I think about friends that have left us and families that are no longer together. I guess that sounds kind of sad but it's just my way of remembering and reflecting on days gone by. However, I suck at mailing Christmas cards. Sometimes I write a few and then never actually get them mailed. I'll keep working on that though and some day you'll get a package from me with 30 cards with pictures. Of course it will also be a collection of 'Jesus cards' cause we're catholic and those are my favorites. I look for the most religious looking card I can find just to entertain. "Look at this super Jesus card!", I want you to exclaim and laugh.
Julie said…
I don't do Christmas cards. Not because I think they suck or are inapporpriate or are the second coming of the anti-christ. It's because I am cheap and lazy!

I do enjoy getting then though. And miraculously I am still on people's lists even though they don't get any from me.

I also keep them every year. Not for any sentimental value, but I cut them up and use them as name tags for gifts. It's recycling. Did I mention I was cheap?
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