21 December 2010


Akim Reinhardt makes no bones about it -- Christmas has become a cancer. In Standing Erect in the Face of Christmas, he provides perspective on Christmas past, a gentler, more subdued season which did not begin until (gasp) December. The steady encroachment of Christmas (the commercial event, not the religious or family celebration) into November, then October, and now even September, is a sad commentary on our ability to turn something beautiful into something shallow and cheap. Le sigh.

The bulk of Reinhardt's commentary focuses on the cheesy music to which we are relentlessly subjected. He provides a list of songs he would like to see banned forever, and a list of songs he wishes were heard more often. His tastes don't match my own, but he does have a point. The music is employed shamelessly as an aural backdrop, designed to encourage people to spend, spend, spend. When you, gentle reader, spend some time with the phrase "the spirit of the season", what images come to mind? Do those images center on family, on quiet time reflecting on life's blessings, on winter's beauty? Or do they center on rabid shopping? Just curious.

For a lighter look at the phenomenon of the Christmas "season", you'll enjoy The True Meaning of Christmas, a wry give-and-take between NYTimes columnists Gail Collins (Catholic) and David Brooks (Jewish). It's good to be reminded that the timing of the holiday, along with the decorated tree and other traditions, were originally stolen from pagan celebrations of the winter solstice. Their wry teasing about tree corpses and moral relativisim is both fun, and food for thought.

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