The holidays...goddammit

Okay. Just so we’re all clear, this is the only time I’m going to grumble about this, and only because it’s been building up for a long time and I don’t have anywhere else to go with it.

I hate this time of the year and have for a long time. I’ve tried to figure out what made this time so uniquely aggravating. I realized that while there were a number of factors, pretty much all of them either got fixed or really aren’t a big deal anymore.

In-your-face religious fanaticism: I’m well aware that major religions, in particular the most powerful branches of Christianity, have been some of the most harmful, poisonous influences in the goddam history of the human race (just the fact that it’s protected frickin’ child molesters for decades, nearly all of whom are never going to see a day in court, is an abomination). The thing is, while this was beyond awful while I was in school, as an adult I barely even notice it. It helps that the right side of history won some critical battles and we no longer have things like nativity scenes in freaking City Hall or mandatory prayer in public schools. I don’t have a problem with a homeowner putting a baby Jesus in her front yard or the mall having Silent Night or Hark The Herald Angels Sing in the rotation (heck, they need something to replace Baby It’s Cold Outside. :D).

Endless terrible songs: This was a problem when everywhere I shopped and every TV channel played this crap nonstop. Now that I have a lot more shopping options (Sam’s Club doesn’t even have a PA system) and DVR pretty much everything, it’s a lot easier to avoid. Pretty much just the malls where it gets unbearable.

That forced merriment thing: Yeah, this was gross. Not really seeing it too much anymore, though. At least if I am unhappy, it’s treated as unfortunate and not an insult.

So what’s the problem? It’s so overwhelmingly, suffocatingly, cloyingly…mainstream.

That’s really all there is to it. The music is treacly and worthless, the biggest bible-thumper gives a big, loud prayer and I can’t do a damn thing about it, everything on TV is either boring or obnoxious…and there is not the slightest alternative, anywhere, ever. Heck, the two alt-rock stations I listen to pretty much tell the whole story; the only thing any of them did…at all…was something called “Melekalikirocka”. I vaguely remember one song that mentioned the word Christmas at all. For years I lamented that there were no alternative Christmas songs, until I realized: it’s an oxymoron. Christmas is all about conformity to a safe, vanilla, bland, arrow-straight manstream. Alternative has no place here.

Nowhere is this more obvious than in the greetings. Good lord, what a monumental clusterfrag that became, eh? It’s reached the point where I’m actively afraid to use any greeting whatsoever. But a lot of people do, and that bugs me. Not what they choose to say (they can say “frivolous winter solstice” for all I fricking care), but that they’re compelled to say anything at all…and to everyone they meet. Is there any other event, situation, or tradition outside of the military where so many people feel obligated to continually acknowledge it to absolutely everyone? Compliance! Obey the mainstream!

And even that pales in comparison to the ungodly insanely loud aerials that go off completely at random. But wait, you say, didn’t the state of Hawaii ban fireworks? Sure did, and as a result, instead of two solid goddam months of dozens of eardrum-shattering fireworks going off at random every goddam night, we get 1-5 kinda eardrum-shattering fireworks going off at random nights! No offense, lawmakers, but when I fired off that intensely passionate plea to end the madness back in 2010 (which to date is the only time in my life I’ve written to my State government), I was hoping for something a tad better than this. At any rate, I’m astonished by the culture of obnoxiousness that’s allowed this to happen. Believe it or not, there was a time when fireworks at home of any kind were limited to two nights a year, and there were NONE of those heart attack-inducing aerials. People understood when tradition permitted making tons of noise and what the limits were. Now every November-December is like living in a tense war zone where the next gunshot can ring out at any time. And the worse part is that nobody seems to have the slightest idea how to fix this. We live in an era where literally everyone has a camera and a video of a random drunken frat stunt can find its way to a million homes in ten minutes, and were powerless to identify or stop these cretins. I’m in a line of work which regularly deals with the dregs of society, so I know very well the vile practice of protecting the scum of the earth (which is why that Catholic pedophile priest story didn’t surprise me too much), and it’s dismaying that nobody seems to give a crap and I’m going to have to deal with this godawful noise every year.

I’m convinced that this crap is never going to change, so again, this is a one-and-done. Thank you, everyone, for your patience. Insert greeting of your choice here.

Meh, living in heathen Australia, I haven’t actually encountered any religiosity at all this year.

Nor have I visited any malls that played carols or hymns. The closest I came to that was an acapella busking trio outside the fruit shop last week. They were decent. I chucked them a $2 coin.

We ate some fud for Xmas lunch, then everyone left. Boxing day was more fud.

My biggest gripe is that my office closes for two weeks over Xmas/New Year and I don’t get paid for not working.

But as to the rest of it? Meh. Have a beer and eat a sausage. MERRY FUCKING CHRISTMAS…and a happy new year too. :smiley:

You coulda just said “bah humbug”. Sorry about the fireworks. I hate them too.

There’s no there there, when it comes to “the holidays.” It’s almost entirely a empty conceit–the vast majority of society pretending that they’re celebrating something, even though the tokens of their actions belie that there is little or no substance to it. For the most part, they aren’t celebrating anything.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against celebrating per se, and in particular I find that gathering with friends and family is the one, single good part about the whole thing. What I can’t stand is the vapid pretension that it consists of anything beyond that, when really all the other stuff is just a fabricated notion of “cheer,” which is primarily just imagery and goading designed and driven by commerce making a buck. This is probably most epitomized by the commercials that appear during this time of year on TV, (especially the car commercials), which predicate the purchase of their product upon a facade of completely manufactured meaning.

It’s a pervasive, cultural hyperventilation that we’re forced into purely because the economy depends upon it.

What exactly are you celebrating when you do these things at this time of year? People will say, “We’re celebrating the season.” And what is “the season”? People will say, “It’s the things we do at this time of year.” It’s a vacuous tautology.

It wouldn’t be so bad if people just admitted this, but instead, they pretend that is it’s all based on something meaningful.

And all those vile Hallmark Christmas movies. Ugh.

Hmm, even as an avowed atheist, I still enjoy the holiday. I enjoyed seeing the relatives and friends, cooking for them and having them cook for me, giving and receiving gifts, and the time off work. I know you don’t object to these in general, but if the Christians can co-opt the Pagan’s solstice holiday to have party and try a little harder to be decent to one another once a year, I don’t see why we atheists can’t do the same. It’s vacuous, but it is convenient to co-opt the dominant paradigm. :D*

But I have to agree that outside of Vince Guaraldi, the good music pickings are pretty slim. I have probably 20-30 Christmas records I inherited from my parents, and I have to search pretty hard for a recording I don’t listen to out of novelty or nostalgia.

Umm, but I’m part of the problem when it comes to the fireworks. I’m still looking at the remains of burn on my hand that I inflicted on myself with several bottle rockets when severely chemically enhanced earlier this month. Didn’t notice it until I couldn’t escape the smell of sulfur later, and I’m not sure that it ever hurt. In the spirit of “everyone thinks they’re a moderate, because they all know someone crazier than themselves”, I have never contributed to the annual celebratory drizzle of lead I expect to happen tonight. Even someone like me, in the above state recognizes those folks as supreme dumbfucks.

*If I was able to start it from scratch, I’d probably rather have it in April, anyway. If the silly Christians didn’t have to piggyback their celebration of their savior’s birth on an astronomical event, the holiday would be more convenient for atheists. We would probably combine it with spring break. The music probably wouldn’t be any better.

.I’m not atheist or religious. But I do like shopping for my kids and their kids with a purpose. An, excuse if you will. I could really just shop anytime throughout the year for them. It’s fun looking for THE right gift, at Christmas time. My only problem with this is my DIL. She is just so damned bossy about what her girls are allowed to have. Within reason, I understand this approach. She makes these big convoluted lists with people assigned to certain presents. I don’t quite work that way. I toss it straight in the trash. And give them savings bonds and a small toy. Her fault they don’t get as much and my grandsons. She best not complain, to me. I concentrate on planning activities with the girls. Starting ever year with getting a pumpkin at Halloween. The grandsons live a bit away so I can’t spend a great deal of rltime like with them.

Living in heathen Canada, neither have I.

Pftt, it’s the twenty first freaking century, everything is in flux, as you may have noticed. Any pressure you feel is self imposed largely. If you don’t like this or that feature of the season, we live in a time when it’s never been easier to avoid. You won’t be publicly shunned by your community. No one will whisper and point.

If some parts of the celebrations resonate for you, (out of nostalgia or simple pattern doesn’t matter), then do what you feel. If parts leave you cold or annoy, opt out. Want newly shaped traditions? Finding the formulaic unsatisfying? Go ahead! Nothing is stopping you. The flip side of less true obligation, to do it this way only, is you need to apply your creativity to find what will feel good for you. Pick and choose, and personally shape, your observances more carefully. That way you will be forced to recognize that you aren’t acting out of societal expectation, but entirely by your own whim.

(I’m with you on the fireworks thing, that’s pretty damned annoying and uncivilized, but it sounds like a law enforcement issue, maybe write some letters, apply some pressure, mobilize the like minded etc. You could make a difference, it’ll feel better than just bemoaning the state of things, I should think.)

You have to decide, is this about not wanting to be mainstream?, because that’s on you, to make your own choices otherwise if you so wish. Or about bemoaning the shallowness of all things mainstream. A remarkably unchallenging target, but a source of neverending material.

OK – but just to be clear, I was not referring to the religiosity–I deliberately set that aside, as an entirely separate issue. I was specifically referring to the other notions, especially those purveyed through imagery in the (largely commercial) media, which usually avoids the religious references, in order to capture the widest market–imagery that is designed to make you behave differently–but not for any real reason–and which people mechanically buy into, acting as though it derived from some deeper meaning than that.

I mean, do you actually celebrate the solstice? Does the beginning of the annual lengthening of daylight mean something to you? If so, then great–I’m all with you here, because that’s actually something that matters to me personally. I doubt that many non-religious people actually care about that, though.

I’m with you 100% on Guaraldi. There’s some other good music (which I hear only when we’re in Colombia at this time, such as Gran Combo’s Nuestra Musica), but the rest is just crap.

Everything about Christmas is so mediocre. Crappy gifts, tacky decorations, lame music and let’s kill a tree, put it in our house covered in plastic and then throw it away. It’s all so lowest common denominator.

I abandoned religion a long time ago, but the smell of pine in the house and the pretty lights still enchant me. As for celebrating the winter solstice, hell yes. No longer skeered about the sun not reappearing, but I have a touch of S.A.D. and miss the light and the energy that comes with it. Living above the Arctic circle would be a hell on Earth for me in winter. I’d probably explode in summer though.:slight_smile:

Ah crap: I’d forgotten about the idiots and their fireworks happening tonight, and the bigger idiots who continue to fire them off at 0300 for the next few days. Even worse is that the weather is supposed to be fair over the next few days, which will only encourage the morons. :mad:

We’re staying at our cabin in the mountains this week, which means that it won’t be fireworks, but rednecks firing their guns in the air all night.

Eh, I don’t necessarily see a little vacuousness as being terribly harmful if it’s having a net positive effect on you. I could see fireworks being really aggravating and I could definitely do without hearing White Christmas again, but having a convenient time to spend extended periods with people who are important to you is a plus in my book. I do make seeing my family mutliple times per year a priority, though it’s a little more socially accepted to take long periods off around the holidays, which means I get to enjoy the chaos of a house full of adults I don’t get to see often enough and kids who love to play together for longer than usual. And I love that I can make something magical for my nephews now that my own kids are old enough not to believe in Santa.

What really gets my goat personally is New Year’s Eve and the onslaught of ensuing resolutions. If something is really that important to you - weight loss, finances, family, etc. - why wait to do something about it? Is it the idea that you’ll have such a terrible hangover from New Year’s that you’ll never want to fuck up like that again? Because putting things off, even just for a bit, tends to turn into putting things off for a week, then a month, then a year until you’ve arrived at New Year’s Eve once more and made the same resolution you did last year. That seems stupid to me.

As a Christian, the commercialization of Christmas disgusts me. No religious holiday during this time of year is as severely capitalized as Christmas. I no longer decorate or listen to much Christmas music. I give and receive minimal gifts. I have the true spirit of Christmas in my heart and that is sufficient enough for me.

How many other religious holidays are there this time of year?

Nah, I don’t celebrate the solstice. As I said before, it’d be more convenient to have the holiday in April, and it wouldn’t affect the meaning of it to me. The Christians weren’t really celebrating the solstice, they were just co-opting an existing holiday. In the same spirit, I’m all for a holiday that didn’t have any other point than to try to get folks to be a little nicer to each other for a little while. I don’t see any reason to break from the grand tradition of co-opting existing holidays. It’d be nicer if the commercial aspect was less prominent than the charitable aspect, but at least it’s there.

Meaning? we bring the meaning to any particular day we celebrate. I don’t think there’s anything intrinsic to tonight either, but it’s nice to mark a complete year.

Nice! Since my Spanish sucks, it’s difficult for me to find stuff I like. Thanks for the link!

I got a bullet hole in my roof that way. New years eve. Newer housing development adjacent to wooded area where a few older existing houses were in what was then “the country”.

Was inside and heard the normal barrage of fireworks that sounded like the fall of Saigon. Heard a loud but slightly muffled “crack” sound…kinda’ felt it too. I figured a spent rocket hit the house. Found no evidence the next day searching the yard and roof ( from the ground ). Didn’t realize what happened till several months later when I had a roof leak. Wet spot on the wall originating where the wall meets the ceiling next to the fireplace chimney. My own searching and corrective action for likely sources of it ( sealing gutters, eaves, chimney flashing ) didn’t solve the problem. I called a roofer. After clomp-clomping around he called down to me “Do you realize you have a bullet hole in your roof?”. He pulled up a shingle to reveal a neat round hole at least 1/2 inch in diameter. ( Shotgun “slug”? ) My wry but truthful answer was “Guess not!”. We went up into my attic and found the wood splintered where it came in, but could find no further evidence of it, nor any other penetration. Problem repaired, but…

I got to thinking: What if it were the 4th of July…had I been on the back patio cooking out…and the slug landed a mere 20 feet away from the roof spot in its trajectory? Lights out for me would be my guess.

Hanukkah, Omisoka, etc. Also some Pagan holidays, but I doubt there are very many folks around here who celebrate them. There are some Islamic holidays in November as well (when the madness of Christmas is already in full swing… groan).