Why all the anger, brah?

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Mornin’ all.

My cat is running around the house carrying with her a “plastic bag of invisibility.”

Look, cats are weird. We all know that. Mine seems to believe that all plastic bags have mystical powers. She honestly seems to think we can’t see her when she sticks her head under one. If she’s playing the chase game with the kids, she’ll use a bag the same way we used the couch during a rainy day of indoor tag when we were young. Bag is safety. Can’t be tagged “it” when she’s touching the bag.

Sometimes when there’s no one to play with and she’s feeling kitten-y, she’ll take her bag with her from room to room and try and start shit.

I haven’t had enough coffee for shit to be started, and I am the only one awake. Sorry, kitty.

I went shopping yesterday. At a dollar store. The day before Christmas Eve. What an odd experience. I have been to dollar stores often enough that I don’t really know why I would have expected otherwise. A lady had a problem with my hair.

“Huh?”

Yeah, that’s about the only acceptable reaction. She got mad when I didn’t respond how she wanted and went off to the cashier about my hair. *shrug* Dunno.

A dude was trying on socks.

Socks.

Right in the aisle of the dollar store, he took off his own shoe and sock and tried on the dollar socks. I don’t have any idea why someone would do this. First, they’re socks. Who tries on socks? And then there’s the price point. It’s a buck. For a three pack. Was he testing quality? Because if that was his goal, then no matter how well they fit, he was going to be sorely disappointed.

My cashier was a very nice and polite woman with tragically unfortunate make up.

I don’t wear make up. Every time I tried to use it, it stuck to my face, which was entirely unpleasant. I’m told that is the entire point of make up, so I guess we were never really destined to get along. Also, I hate that women are expected to dip themselves in lacquer every day while men get to actually use their own faces.

I’m just saying that I might not have the strongest grasp of beauty product application. However, my cashier used a foundation that was probably five shades too dark for her skin. It was a reverse Geisha look, and it was somehow far creepier. Her hair was on point, though. Wicked fancy style with curls in and updo that looked so out of place on a dollar store cashier that I kind of wanted to high five her for it.

The cashier in the register behind me told Crazy Hair Lady, “Happy Holidays.” That earned a death glare. The woman snatched her bags, threw them in the cart, and sniped, “It’s ‘Merry Christmas’!”

“Uh oh, Bethie. I know that tone of voice…”

That sentiment is also splashed across Ye Olde Booke of Faces today. I’ve got to be honest.

“No. No, you don’t.”

I have seen this over and over and over, and it really pisses me off when people…

“Bethie no! Not today of all days! Don’t try and stir the pot on Christmas Eve!”

…complain about the phrase, “Happy Holidays.”

“…shit. *sigh* I tried to warn you.”

You did, and I’m sure my detractors will take note and not hold you responsible. Now, sit back down. I’m just getting started.

“Happy Holidays.” Why does one little term get people so angry?

In this nation, we tend to have a really difficult time understanding that we are not the absolute. We’re really very bad at looking at our country as part of a bigger picture. I’m not knocking us. I’m actually pretty sure that the folks in every nation feel the same. Hell, we’re probably even hardwired to, when you get right down to it. On a purely scientific level, our ancestors would have had to believe that they were the most important in order to have the drive to keep their cave families alive.

I don’t fault us for it. But now that we have the internet with its instant access to the lives and living rooms of the rest of the world, we’ve got to start opening our eyes. We’re NOT the shit. No single group of people is. Everyone is different and that’s not only okay in societal terms, it’s necessary for the overall health of our species.

So for the good of humanity itself, let’s take a look at some Christmas facts.

The holiday we call “Christmas” here in the United States has, overall, very little to do with Christmas. The first Christmases were deeply religious. We’re not talking like a couple years for the holiday to catch on. We’re talking CENTURIES of strictly religious Christmases. There were no bells and whistles. No wreaths and happy carols. Unfortunately for the monks, no tasty cakes and cookies, and definitely, absolutely, positively no gifts.

From a theological standpoint, Christmas is supposed to be a “celebration”…of the soul. It’s supposed to be a time to reflect on God giving his child to the world for eternal spiritual salvation. In fact, the early centuries of Christmas observations were times for deep praying and fasting, not singing and feasting.

Over the years, the holiday slowly changed. As the Christian crusaders started to spread across the globe, they adapted and, in some cases, flat out adopted local customs into their own religion. Caroling, a tradition that dates back to the Romans who sang at every public event, not just religious ones, was started in the fourth century by monks. They sang dirges. In Latin. The point was to remind people of the somberness of the day.

How fun.

Actually, I bet locals felt about the same for those carolers as we do today. “Oh shit, Igor. It’s those monks singing in a language we don’t understand trying to make us feel guilty for eating our gruel.” “Blow out the candle, Olga, and maybe they’ll go away.”

Boughs of evergreens came into the scene when the Christians spread north. In all fairness, the early Christian crusaders probably realized hanging evergreen boughs in a closed up winter keep was a most excellent idea. They took the stank off the joint. I mean, back in those days, all food scraps were thrown on hay rushes on the floor to be either eaten or ignored by the dogs. And then left to rot. Until SPRING. I’m guessing the early Christian crusaders said, “I believe thy Lord has spoken unto me, and he hath conceded yon evil pagans mighteth be onto something,” as they pinched their noses in their own smelly homes.

The happiness and joy of the holiday didn’t come until people, most famously Saint Nicholas, began to give the child laborers a little extra pick-me-up in homage to the gift God gave to the world. He was actually a real person who stuffed things in stockings for local children to make their lives a little brighter. I mean, the kids still had to get back to scrubbing out chimneys and carrying coal and falling in wells and shit, but at least they got an orange first.

Oddly, ol’ St. Nicky there wasn’t the only one who decided to stuff gifts in footwear. I guess since they didn’t have cardboard or tupperware, options were limited. Still…foot fetish much? Anyway, Scandinavian children used to put offerings in their shoes and leave them outside for Odin’s horse, and Odin would be happy and leave them candy in trade.

Gift-giving itself wasn’t a Christmas tradition, either, until it was borrowed from other religions.

“Uh uh uh. Nope. Sorry, but I’ve got you there, Bethie. The Three Wise Men. BOOM.”

Hang on. Don’t drop that mic just yet.

The wise men gave the gifts TO Jesus, and Jesus only. Not to each other. Not to the animals laying around. They didn’t even bring Mary a little something for her effort of giving birth in a damn barn. Not even a sampler of chocolate or a “World’s Best Mom” balloon or anything. Bad form, Wise Men.

Exchanging gifts between human beings at Christmas is another borrowing from pagans, with strong historical evidence suggesting it’s directly from a tradition for the pagan celebration of Saturnalia. Again, the evergreen boughs totally made sense to the new religious pioneers trying to convert pagans to Christianity, and so did gift-giving when the crusaders thought about it.

Gift-giving between human beings on Earth was a far more demonstrative way of honoring the gift of the man they considered to be their savior. It was a physical way to show their understanding of the holiday, and one even those who had no fucking clue what they were talking about in Latin could understand. “I’m giving you a gift like God gave our people Jesus. I won’t take the gift away. It will always be yours no matter what. God and Jesus? Ditto.”

When you think about it, gift-giving on Christmas became a very effective way for crusaders to show the locals what the holiday was all about in a very succinct nutshell. It was pretty much the best way to explain everything they meant in terms everyone could understand. I mean, sure, they could have impregnated a virgin, but even in those times, that was considered tres declasse.

“BETHIE!!!”

…hm…*strokes beard*…*nods slowly*…Yeah, now I see it. A step too far there. Sorry.

“*haughty sniff* So you’re just against Christmas.”

No! Not at all.

I might not be a religious sort, but I was raised in a Christian household. The holiday season was always filled with magic and happiness, and I love Christmas for those memories and my personal family traditions. I love the lessons taught through giving. I love the idea of salvation, personal or spiritual or other. I love the trees and the lights and the songs and the hope. All of these things are messages that I have decided to borrow from Christians, because I think they DO pertain to my life, and I believe my life is better when I stop and take a few moments in an otherwise dark and dreary season to enjoy and appreciate those messages.

The difference is, when I borrow, I’m not going to forget where those traditions started. I’m just not going to pretend that all the traditional “Christmas” stuff we do wasn’t taken from other religions, and then completely ignore that those other religions exist.

There are over a dozen major religious holidays that followers of other religions celebrate around this time of year.

“Yeah, but those are small religions. There are tons of Christians in the world.”

2.2 billion, actually. 2.2 billion people truly celebrate Christmas, not just posers like me who did it for the modern meaning more than the actual religious observance. That seems like a lot of friggin’ people!

…until you realize that nearly 5 billion people do NOT celebrate Christmas. And though I’ll be the first to admit my relationship with math is almost as non-existent as my relationship with make up, I get that 2.2 is less than half of 5.

If you are one of those people who gets angry at “Happy Holidays,” you’ve got some serious thinking to do now. I’ve told you the facts. You’ve read them. They cannot be unseen or unknown. At this point, it’s up to you. You can now go one of two ways.

You can realize and accept that not only are you a minority, but your Christmas is actually based on a wonderful amalgamation from many different religions, get okay with that, and start wishing them a happy season anyway…

Or you can ignore all the facts, and keep getting angry and “correcting” people who say “Happy Holidays.” The choice is yours, but I have to be honest. If you go with the latter, you’re going to sound like a dick.

Don’t be a dick. It’s almost Christmas.

Thus concludes a long-winded Holiday Musing for Christmas Eve, 2015. To everyone who celebrates Christmas, I hope you have a wonderful holiday tomorrow! For those who celebrate other holidays, I hope you have a wonderful holiday as well! For those who don’t celebrate anything, I hope you realize you’re alive and reading this and that alone is worthy of celebration. And to everyone, Happy Holidays, whatever those may be!

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