Yes, it’s time for my annual Christmas rant. I don’t have much new to say, though I have tried to think of new ways to say it.
Serious question before this post goes downhill like a mountain goat in an avalanche: Is there a country or culture outside the West where people commemorate the birth of a major religious figure by spending galactic amounts of money they don’t have buying gifts for people who don’t want them (or at least don’t really need them), especially where the major religious figure himself probably wouldn’t approve if he had any say in the matter?
Hell, why limit it to the commemoration of births? Let’s include death, marriage, getting laid for the first time, performing a big miracle, or any other key event in the life of a god, demi-god, child of god, messiah, prophet, saint, wise man, or fool who occupies an important place in a religious faith.
Here in the U.S. I’ve got a bird’s eye view of the Christmas pocket-emptying, but I have no idea whether anything like this happens outside the part of the world in which Christianity is the dominant creed. I could do some research myself, but who has time for research when you need to be thinking about what needless presents to buy and for whom?
I’m guessing the answer is No. Not because cultures and countries outside the West are any smarter than we are, but because they’re not as rich or as fully engulfed by capitalism as we are. It’s tougher to induce people to blow money in the name of religion when they’re kinda short on discretionary income.
But I could be wrong. I mean, it’s not like even most Americans are swimming in extra cash with no idea what to do with it. But we have credit cards! And for those whose cards are maxed out, there’s always shoplifting and burglary! Plus, we have a ginormous groaning smorgasbord of shit we can buy!
And holy fuckin bejeezus, we Americans may be fuck-ups at lots of things, but we sure as shit know how to spend. The National Retail Federation estimates that holiday sales for November and December will increase 4.1% over 2011 to $586.1 billion. The same survey reports that the average American family planned to spend $749.51 on gifts this year. An annual Gallup survey pegs the average number at $770. That’s the average, mind you. Thirty percent of those surveyed will spend $1,000 or more.
But hey, that’s just the beginning. Let’s not forget the Christmas trees, the cards, the flowers, the food, and the fuckin’ eye-sores known as Christmas decorations. Here are the averages for all these items as reported in a December 2009 compilation of data:
|Cards and postage||
|Food and candy||
Again, these are only averages. Some spend more and some spend less, but shelling out about $1,000 bucks per family is a pretty stout testament to baby Jesus.
Actually, that’s a joke. No one forks over their hard-earned dough for all this shit because they really think baby Jesus (or adult Jesus or Jesus sitting at the right hand of the Father) wants them to. I don’t claim to be a biblical scholar (who has the time to study the Bible when you need to be thinking about what needless presents to buy and for whom?), but I’m pretty sure there was nothing in the Sermon on the Mount about the gift-givers and decorators entering the kingdom of heaven or inheriting the earth.
Entering hell is a more accurate summary of our commercially engorged holiday season. Apart from the pain of people going into hock in an unnecessary effort to make their loved ones and friends happy, in the U.S. crimes such as theft rise in number as a result of people’s increased financial needs during the holidays, and crimes such as assault and domestic violence tend to increase because of the added stresses of the season. Not to mention the upswing in DUI’s.
Christmas time is also the most likely time of the year to experience depression, and the suicide rate is higher during December than in any other month. And seriously, what in the fucking fuck is up with that? We have a holiday that’s a public health hazard as well as a trigger for crime sprees and a massive increase in consumer indebtedness? Those usually aren’t the kind of events worth celebrating, and the irony is that it’s a celebration that causes them.
And to compound the irony, December 25 really has nothing to do with the actual birthday of Jesus anyway. The church only settled on a December 25 Christmas in the fourth century, and most scholars have concluded that the early church picked the date in order to coincide with pre-existing pagan winter festivals as a marketing ploy to encourage the spread of Christianity.
I’d like to find the fuckers who started this gift-giving Christmas tradition and crotch-kick the shitfire out of them. How did this whole nauseating mess start in the first place?
Some scholars trace the tradition to the Roman festival of Saturnalia (one of those pagan celebrations with which the early church conflated the Nativity celebration). But I don’t blame the Romans. They just got shit-fced, and every now and then the women would tear the men apart, but every awesome party gets a little out of hand, right?
No, I blame the fuckin’ Three Wise Men. I suspect they were agents of the National Retail Federation sent back in time to plant the seeds of today’s holiday conflagration. If I could go back in time, I’d make them eat all that gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Douchebags.
You know what most people planned to buy as gifts for others this Christmas? Clothing. Do you know what most people want to receive as gifts? Gift certificates and cash. So I guess there’s some symmetry with the Nativity after all: I’m sure Jesus didn’t want what the Wise Men brought him either.
Let me be clear: I like any excuse for a party, at least when I get to choose who I party with and I don’t have to buy them presents. And I do admit that some Christmas get-togethers are fun. I will also admit that I like to give gifts at times and places of my own choosing, and to people of my own choosing. I also like looking at pretty lights, as long as I don’t have to put them up or take them down.
But I don’t need Christmas in order to do any of those things, and neither does anyone else. And although Jesus had some good things to say about the way people should treat each other, those messages have been thoroughly drowned out by the cacophony of other messages (mainly commercial) that batter our tender ears this time of year. If the dude had been born in the modern era, there’s a damned good chance he never would have come back out of the desert after his 40 days of wandering.
So yes, Fuck Christmas. Because we sure can’t kill it.
Gift-buying isn’t a major element around here during major Hindu festivals. But, people do seem to splurge for themselves, and on the festivities.
What do people buy for themselves? Is it something traditional, or just any old thing they’ve been wanting?
Gold jewelery is always a hot item. But, there are usually sales everywhere. So, other stuff gets hoarded too.
It’s basically Black Friday scaled down.
I generally detest “religious” holidays. Thanksgiving and Christmas are the worst primarily because they are the most overtly Christian. However, my old black pagan heart can’t help but enjoy some kind of revelry toward the end of the year and that means booze and food because fuck shelling out cash for people who aren’t going to appreciate it anyway. So I make myself and my family something tasty to eat, raise a few glasses for the death of the old, and generally keep my own company. It’s hard for me to be a kvrmvdgeon now with two small boys but I’m trying to impress upon them the important things: family, fun and food. And if they’re good, no floggings from the Krampus.
A man after me own heart. I’m all for the 4-F approach to Christmas: family, friends, fun, and food. Those are the best gifts anyway.
You may notice that I left out the “friends” part. That was intentional.
I thought so. I was just adapting it for myself. 🙂
I don’t want you coming over to my house and traumatizing the children with your headlessness.
Don’t be rude. He wants YOU to come over.
Family and food are my two favorite things. And there’s nothing like a child’s smile when they open a new gift. Plus winter! So this is my favorite time of year. 😀
Off to Christmas dinner number one out of 3 or 4!
Xmas for me consists of over-indulging my little boy and dog, and spending the week playing. And stuffing my face with crushing snacks and fatty metal. I like those parts, despite my agreement with the spot-on analysis/rant. If that makes me a hypocrite, then I guess I’ve officially become a Chris… Whoops sorry, nothing nothing!
Previously I never really had any problems with this time of year. However this year something has gone “shnick” inside me and pretty much everything related to this overindulgence mess of a “holiday” rubs me the wrong way. Treating it as a reason to get your family together for a communal dinner is fine and dandy but the rest of it can burn in a fire.
And Jesus said, “Lo, thou canst not celebrate my life without buying lots of shit. Also, if somebody does something thou dost not like, thou must judge the shit out of them and persecute them as thou seest fit. Because I didn’t mean any if that crap about loving others and judge not. I was just fucking with you. Now go get your hate on AND your spend on. So sayeth me, bitches.”
I just hate happy people. All sorts of stupid smiles and laughter. Makes me sick.
That’s why I hated your Anaal Nathrakh video. How dare you allow it to make you happy?!
I dunno, I feel like it is just another day. As I have gotten older each year it seems to mean less and less and now has gotten to the point where it really means nothing. I often wonder how people can go and spend money they don’t have and charge gifts and feel like they are doing something “good and giving” in their own minds. To each their own I guess. My wife and I didn’t buy each other anything. I am in a visitation battle with my ex for my sons holidays. I got fucked on that this year (hers is coming) and I watch T. V. and all I see is violence and people treating each other like shit. So all of this is supposed to put me in a Christmas spirit? I don’t think so. My wife and I will be spending part of the day together tomorrow just like we are doing today. This being because of course she has to work both fucking days. My mother has for some reason decided to stop calling or caring about what I do or anything in general. I have not talked to her in over a year. So with all this being said I am thankful to have a beautiful wife and food in my fridge and two cats that love me unconditionally. So fuck Christmas shopping (charging), Fuck Christmas parades,over priced trees and decorations (didn’t even decorate this year) and overpriced food (the gift that keeps on giving year round) and screw all the bullshit and violence going on lately. The country needs to get it’s shit together because in my humble little opinion there isn’t shit to celebrate until we do.
Shit falls down on everyone at one time or another throughout the year. But when it’s happening at this time of year, when we’re bombarded by all the merry-and-jolly-and-ho-ho-ho horseshit, it just seems worse. I think that’s one reason Christmas proves to be such a depressing season for many people (apart from the reasons I gave in the post) — the contrast between the way things are and the way they should be is so stark. It sounds like you’re dealing with a particularly slimy load of shit right now. Keep your chin up man.
You have a beautiful way with words, Islander. Fuck you all.
Thank you dude. And in the spirit of the season, allow me to say Fuck You, too. 🙂
Holidays you know.
Here in NZ, Christmas is summer, which I like because it’s always relatively chilled out – well, in my family, anyway. You have a BBQ at the beach, visit relatives and friends, and everyone brings a plate to share. Some people do go overboard on presents, but I have a relatively small family, and no one decorates their house really. We don’t have thanksgiving, either. I’ve had two white Christmases and that was pretty novel!
Every year my friends and I have a “metal Christmas” party where we all bring a $5 gift and play a game where you steal the gifts off everyone else. This year someone brought an old iPhone and the game got rather brutal. I started with a can of milo and ended up with a teddy bear and some chocolate, and my husband got a water gun that sounds like an elephant farting. We had a super low-key Christmas this year, didn’t even get each other presents, just went to my in-laws for lunch. We’re camping for four days on our land, with 30 friends, and I am catering the whole thing, so that’s kind of taking priority over trees and decorations and shit.
I’ve read about the Metal Christmas tradition at Steff Metal, and it sounds thoroughly awesome. So does the idea of camping for four days with 30 friends. This is how you do it!
My wife and I agreed not to get each other presents this year (she has a 12/12 birthday, so she got something from me recently anyway), but we have given gifts to and received them from other people this year. And we’re planning on a big feedbag with family today. If only we could be BBQing on a beach . . .
And by the way, it’s great to hear from you! Merry Christmas to you and your hubbie.
And Merry Christmas to you too, even if you hate it 🙂 I’ve been WAY out of the loop recently, due to house building pretty much taking over my life, but I still read every day.
Purchased myself a Colt LE6940 M4 rifle for Christmas before they get banned. Now THAT’S the gift that keeps on giving
You are so politically incorrect it makes my teeth hurt.
I highly doubt a ban on semi-automatic weapons will ever actually happen. The vast majority of weapons are semi-automatic, from shotguns, pistols, and little .22 caliber rifles (which is what an M4 is, but with more powder behind it). The news can make all the buzz they want with misleading words like “assault rifle”, but it won’t hold up in the court of law. An assault rifle is defined as a selectable fire weapon, most often fully automatic or burst fire, which the civilian version of the rifle is not. There’s already countless amounts of court precedent upholding this.
So if you’re trying to wave your rebellious balls around like you just outsmarted the system, not gonna work. Been in the Army too long dealing with Pvt Rambos and hillbillies fresh out of OSUT.