Merry . . . Everything

I really like Christmas. Who doesn’t? I’m just so relieved the war on this holiday is over! Whew. I’ve been saying “Merry Christmas” with abandon all these years, never realizing that there was a sinister, pervasive movement afoot. I sent out Christmas cards, put up my creche and topped my ‘baby Jesus birthday cake” with a candle angel. All that time, as I blithely went “over the river and through the woods”, I never realized there was a lurking, sinister plot to steal Christmas. Okay, even in the best of times, I never saw a partridge in a pear tree, but still, who would steal CHRISTMAS?

(caution: Holiday rant ahead)

If miles and miles of crazy, blinking house lights and stores decked with holly since the day after Halloween are any indication, secular Christmas needs no comeback or defending.  It gets bigger and more lucrative every year. But if the spiritual aspect of Christmas is in danger of disappearing, the answer won’t be found in any political mandate or decree. The spirit of Christmas springs from the soul of each person.

Or not.

I guess I thought ‘Happy Holidays’ was kind of shorthand for good wishes in the Christmas season. Or maybe, just maybe, merely a sign of respect to all; a greeting to those who are and are not Christians, purely in the spirit of the season. Aside from a constitutional separation of church and state, greeting people where they are, spiritual or not, just seems like the right thing to do.

The celebration of Christmas has changed over time but the change is more about how we ourselves have evolved than a result of any conspiracy. Back in the 17th century, the Puritans didn’t think celebrations of Christmas were at all cool or maybe they were a little too cool for their version of the bible. Isn’t it ironic that the only time Christmas was actually banned in America was by — Christians?

The French Revolutionist renamed Christmas ‘Dog Day’ and rebranded holiday goodies as liberty cakes. So much for Jolly Ol’ St. Nick. During the 30’s and 40’s, in a country across the pond, extreme political ideologies were integrated into religious celebrations. (Psst: Anti-semitism can’t co-exist with Christmas because the very person we celebrate was, duh – Jewish.) Russia’s October Revolution knocked out public religious displays so it was a total TKO for Santa. Castro banned Christmas altogether to keep people’s mind on the sugar harvest. Sweet. Traditional holiday celebrations became a bah humbug act of political dissent. If there was an authentic war on Christmas, it exists in those most afraid of the other, you know, like those unwelcome travelers 2000 years ago who spent the night in a stable. Continue reading

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It’s About To Get Ugly.

I won’t tell. Go ahead, drag that sequined, blinking light sweater out of hiding for its annual holiday spin. What else can make you feel so happily over-dressed for success but something so tinselly tacky?  Office party or off-center homey soiree, there’s something de rigueur about donning your gaudiest apparel for the sheer fun of it.

The ugly Christmas sweater has become a tradition and traditions like this call out everyone’s most competitive, over-the-top spirit — or temporary insanity. A graphic design unicorn, who dresses more like boring Bonwit (knock-offs) than bohemian, I can probably rock a cool sweater design, but the time required would really bug everyone I know. As most artists who take hours and weeks deciding the subtle nuances of each color, by the time I’d create a suitably crazy Christmas sweater, the holidays would be over.

Already midpoint in your own holiday timeline, I’m sure if a sweater masterpiece isn’t on your current your to-do list, that ship has sailed. You could pretend you didn’t know you had to come dressed as Santa’s workshop, but then your critique of everyone else’s attire wouldn’t hold water. Then again, when you spend so much time creating something, you’d like to at least be able to re-gift it, but there are probably few takers.

When did this Christmas craziness first begin? Most would agree that the birthplace of this offbeat tradition is the Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver, British Columbia in 2002. Before that, garish holiday sweaters were slightly embarrassing, but through the years, Christmas sweaters, from oddly beautiful to downright weird became trendy. Later, college students, loving the irony of their parents’ 80’s fashions, upped the satire factor with vintage wearable Christmas duds. Who knew that your maiden aunt’s itchy holiday sweater, bedazzled with twinkling trees would actually become — vogue. (If you can live with the guilt that the aunt once wore that sweater proudly without a trace of irony, then wear that glitzy fashion statement with all bodaciousness.)

Combining Halloween with Holy Jingle Bells, Christmas sweaters help us let loose in our own unique holiday style. Unfortunately, that sometimes hideously glamorous apparel has become big business, as companies across the nation get their ugly on for Christmas season dollars. Some ritzy retail holiday knits are so expensive you need a commitment to lifetime annual sweater parties to justify owning one. Mass-marketed pseudo homespun treasures echo have become a lucrative ‘thing’. There’s the vest adorned with a fuzzy, stuffed reindeer head, even an entire kitschy holiday suit (yes, they really did that). Continue reading