Thursday, December 22, 2005

Happy Stuffmas*

* derived from the American "stuff" meaning, well, "stuff" and the Spanish "mas" meaning "more" ... or, to quote Animal [from the Muppet Show] MORE MORE MORE MORE MORE (which then sends my mind to the Simpsons: "Gee, I wanna go to Mount Splashmore. Take me take me take me take me now. NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW!" [although the clip has a different melody than the one my brother and I always sing] {and googling to find the jingle brings up a nice article on the effectiveness of The Nag Factor, which seems fitting for Christmas, sadly enough!})

Interesting thoughts I've had with all this talk of how wishing people Happy Holidays is such a horrible heathenistic thing to do. For one thing .... would it be better if I wished them a miserable holiday? I mean really, how is this any worse than "Have a nice day"? I'm sending them good wishes for the period of time in our society that involves a little extra time off work which, by definition, is a holiday. Think of all the Europeans, "going on holiday" somewhere. It's like "Have a good vacation." Does this mean I'm going to [the bad place] because I told my students to "Have a good break" as they headed out of the classroom last Friday? In my mind, it's the holiday season, which, even if you take the "strictly" Christian perspective (which, incidentally enough, tends to omit Advent), still includes the great-and-wonderful New Year's Eve (which, if Christians really stuck to their liturgy, they would have banged their pots and pans and Syned their Auld Langs a month ago, before Advent).

My bigger point of wondering, though, comes from who's making these arguments. These wouldn't, by chance, be the same people who get so up at arms about how commercialized Christmas is getting, would they? I certainly hope not. After all, how exactly would that work? "Stop taking advantage of the Baby Jesus' birthday by pressuring people to buy more and more unnecessary bits of junk. But, if you must pressure them into spending their money so frivously, by all means, make sure they know that it's all about Jesus!" So, you shouldn't take Christ out of Christmas by turning it into a money-making scheme, but you shouldn't take Christ out of the money-making scheme by saying it's a holiday sale instead of a Christmas sale?

Seriously, in all honesty, you cannot tell me that the fact of a few stores saying "Season's Greetings" is the singular cause of our nation's turning away from all that is good and moral.

We get so upset over losing the sanctity of the season, and yet we must be doing something to allow Sara at to never seem to run out of possibilities for her Cavalcade of Bad Nativities, Angels We Have Heard Are High, The Passion of the Tchotchke, or, probably most tragically, the Stations of the Kitsch (which opens up with a beautiful commorative dinner plate of Jesus presiding over the trial of OJ Simpson .... and we're worried about a little "Happy Holidays" diluting our religious convictions?!?!?)

And, as I type this, I get a sense of the absurdity of the fights that are erupting over how you can and cannot send wishes of well-being and peace to one another. How messed up is that?!?!? It's almost like my two nieces who got into this whole argument one night before dinner over who got to say grace: "I wanted to pray first!" Talk about losing sight of the message!

One of the three Christmas CDs that has been very much in the rotation for me these last couple weeks has been David Haas' Star Child. And yes, while I readily acknowledge that people sometimes have strong feelings one way or another towards him [and for those of you who don't have a clue who he is -- he's a big-name Catholic liturgical musician], he's got some very cool stuff on this CD.

One of the many tracks on the CD that gets me is one called Child of Joy and Peace, and it especially struck me today as I was dropping people off and the airport and navigating shopping-mall-parking-lot-overflow traffic jams. Liner notes are, of course, not here with me, and lyrics are non-existant (I thought that everything was supposed to be on the internet!), so this is the best my transcribing skills could produce. You can hear the second verse here; take that melody and instrumentation and mentally translate it over to the lyrics of the last verse -- see if you get goosebumps too.

Child of joy and peace
Born to every race
By your star the wise will know you
East and west their homage show you
Look into your face
Child of joy and peace

Born among the poor
On a stable floor
Cold and raw, you know our hunger
Weep our tears and cry our anger
Yet, you tell us more
Born among the poor

Every child needs bread
Till the world is fed
You give bread, your hands unable
All to gather round your table
Christmas must be shared
Every child needs bread

Son of poverty
Shame us till we see
Self-consumed, how we deny you
By our greed we crucify you
On a Christmas tree
Son of poverty

Come on now, folks. Really, is the phrase "Merry Christmas" truly the biggest issue facing our celebration of this, yes, holiday?


Blogger AveMaria1 said...

Cool. I think I have a new big sis.
My phone died on us last night...sorry. MERRY CHRISTMAS!

12/23/2005 9:24 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

Merry Christmas, Steph! I haven't had much time to comment over here but not because I haven't been stopping by to check you out (checking out what you have to say, yes, that's what I meant).

If you have any time at all in whatever time you might have over your lifetime, please send me any second dish recipes. It's my new year's resolution to have two other fabulous dishes that I can cook. The quest is on.

Stay safe and tell the Dude of Bigness I said 'howdy'...


12/23/2005 11:04 AM  
Blogger AveMaria1 said...

It's funny you mention this. When I was at Border's with my roomie, Jimbo, we said Merry Christmas to the cashier and her response was, "Here, we say, HAPPY HOLIDAYS". Jimbo's reply (and I love him because he is so blunt) was: "Jesus is the reason for the season". With that, we walked out. ;)

If someone said Happy Kwanzaa to me, I'd wish them a Happy Kwanzaa right back. No biggie...

What's the world coming to? We're all entitled to our own beliefs! We should respect others as well, it is the morally correct thing to do.

12/23/2005 11:24 AM  
Blogger seeking_something said...

I get your point. It's about moderation, really; to not get hung up on one thing. Those up in arms about "Happy Holidays" are saying to be on guard against these seemingly harmless little things. It used to NOT be a big deal, until they made it a POINT to NOT say "Merry Christmas." As soon as we are denied something, we have to stop and think "Why? Is it right? Is it Just? Does it matter?" Gotta watch the little things too. White lies are still lies. Taking pens and notepads from the office is still stealing. (But should we should especially not let the big things get away.)

But yes, the focus should always be Christ, and "in all things, charity."

Merry Christmas to all!

12/23/2005 11:30 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

I truly wish you a "Merry CHRISTmas!"

12/23/2005 7:20 PM  
Blogger HeyJules said...

I'm with you, Steph.

We love to look at details instead of the big picture, don't we?

Happy Holidays or Season's Greetings?
Christmas EVE service or Christmas DAY service?

People can be so silly about what they care about. We're supposed to be caring about EACH OTHER, period.

Say what you want. Worship this year on the day that you want. In two more days, none of this will matter - except that all that wasted energy could have gone towards something so much more important...

12/23/2005 9:03 PM  
Blogger seeking_something said...

We need both, Mary and Martha. Some folks take care of the details so that others wouldn't have to.

12/24/2005 4:14 AM  
Blogger Girl said...

Oh, thank you, for this. My mind just couldn't wrap around the turns and twists of saying just what you have said.

If people were educated on all of the religions, instead of squelching Christmas to be more appropriate to other faiths, than maybe the move to be PC wouldn't be so backwards. --see, you still say it better than me.--

But what really gets me is people fighting 'the fight' against the loss of Christmas, who don't even really understand the reason for the season in the first place.

I blogged about this already, but in the Boston Globe, some lady was quoted saying "I thought it was a celebration of the season, and not Christ." when she was arguing against the school system's need to change elf hats from red and green to red and white.

Oh heyjules points out, it won't matter in a few days, anyway.

12/24/2005 10:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"And, as I type this, I get a sense of the absurdity of the fights that are erupting over how you can and cannot send wishes of well-being and peace to one another. How messed up is that?!?!? It's almost like my two nieces who got into this whole argument one night before dinner over who got to say grace: "I wanted to pray first!" Talk about losing sight of the message!"

Thanks so much. I was starting to think I was the only one who noticed this. Talk about 1) fighting over the most trivial things and 2)missing the point. I really think that the media people are just trying to keep us preocupied by arguing over meaningless things so we don't have to worry/think/react about what's really going on in the world.
-Amanda Marr

12/24/2005 11:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's a saying about this sort of thing. "Penny wise and Pound Foolish." Happy Holidays!:)

12/24/2005 11:16 PM  
Anonymous A said...

I totally agree with your take on this issue. And by the way, Merry Christmas to you! Steph, I'm glad I found your blog, and I look forward to following your journey in the coming year. May it be a great one.
Peace to you

12/25/2005 5:52 AM  

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