Showing posts with label i hate christmas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label i hate christmas. Show all posts


i hate christmas 2017: the return of a wmtc tradition and then some

Last year, I took a break from my annual "i hate christmas" post. I don't remember the circumstances, but it was probably related to getting ready for our trip to Egypt. We lost Tala a few days later, but for better or worse, we were ignorant of that until the day before.

This year I revive the fine wmtc tradition and then some.

I did a stupid thing and it caused me to remember just how much I hate Christmas, like a sharp slap in the face: I went to the mall.

Yes, after all my years of not stepping foot in any store for any nonessential shopping during the holiday madness, I found myself in a gigantic mall, three days before Christmas, in the afternoon. My hair salon happens to be in the mall. I normally go there first thing in the morning and am well clear by the time it is the slightest bit busy. But I waited too long to make an appointment, and I can't wait until January... and thus I ended up in a mall, the Friday before a Monday Christmas, at 4:00 in the afternoon.

I took a cab to avoid the frustration of trying to find parking. So all I did was walk from the entrance to hair salon, sit through the crowded, noisy, Christmasy hair experience, then walk from the salon to the exit. That was enough. The mobs of people, walking apparently in slow motion, laden with packages, gawking at every window. Large groups of teens and 20-somethings, dressed like store-window mannequins, clearly there to be seen. (This is a thing!) Screaming children and exhausted parents of every description. Happy couples looking like they are out for a stroll. In the mall! Recreational shopping.

In our incredibly multicultural environment, I have to wonder how many of these families celebrate only the North American consumerist version of this winter holiday, and have no religious connection to it at all.

I personally will spend a lovely December 25 and 26 with my favourite people (one human, one canine), food, drink, movies, books, puzzles, and maybe a trip to the dog park. But damn, it is out there, and it is scary!

I'm not even going to explain why I hate Christmas so much. Writing this post, I คาสิโนออนไลน์ แจกเครดิตฟรี 2019took a trip down memory lane. It's all there, and it's more relevant than ever.


in which i continue to hate christmas even though i can't be bothered right now

Right now I'm so busy, between work and union, that I barely have time to hate Christmas.

As I've found in recent years, a combination of circumstances - getting out of the office worker environment, streaming-only TV and movies (ad-free!), discovering the authentic meaning many of my colleagues find in the holiday - has taken the edge off my irritation.

I still hate that Christmas is a national holiday in countries that supposedly separate Church and State. As our world becomes increasingly multicultural, the Christmas and Easter holidays make less sense all the time.

I still hate the hyper-consumerism. The music. The assumptions about our choices. The ads. The crowds. The Santas. Now that I think about it... I still hate all of it. I just think about it a lot less.

Our library, both customers and staff, is incredibly multicultural and inclusive. Yet, out come the Christmas decorations, the cards, the chocolates, the shopping lists, the Christmas storytimes. I find it incredibly inappropriate for a public library. Yet it is ubiquitous.

Also at the library, I've met several colleagues who openly identify themselves as atheists, something I've never encountered in any other work environment. I really like and respect their openness, their assertion of their minority beliefs into the mainstream.

Yesterday one of those atheist colleagues wished me a "happy two days off". Now that's something I don't hate!

[Also: we've had some excellent discussions about this on this blog. The Ghost of Wmtc Past invites you to read posts and comments herehere and especially here.]


in which my annual noncelebration of christmas causes my jewish cultural roots to reappear, a tiny bit

Two years ago, wmtc's annual "i hate christmas" post declared: "i hate christmas is slightly less hateful this year".

Working in the library, as opposed to an office environment, I found getting through the holiday season much less trying.

No more co-workers - at their computers, able to talk while they work - going on (and on and on and on...) about what they are buying for whom, reciting their shopping lists, a mind-numbing litany of consumption. My co-workers now are too busy, and several magnitudes less self-absorbed, to inflict that on anyone.

And it wasn't just the absence of a negative. Colleagues described holiday celebrations that had nothing to do with shopping. Traditions that are meaningful and truly joyous: what a concept!

This year several of my library colleagues, unbeknownst to them, gave me another reason to hate Christmas less: they wished me a Happy Hanukkah. And something strange happened: I felt my Jewishness a bit more.

When one co-worker first inquired about my Hanukkah (in the context of an unrelated email discussion), I said I didn't know when it started, and made a joke about being a "bad Jew". Super-sensitive soul that she is, she apologized and hoped she wished me no offense. Far from it! In fact, I was touched and impressed that she remembered that (a) I don't celebrate Christmas, and (b) I am Jewish. (I told her this, of course.)

Then another, then several, colleagues wished me a Happy Hanukkah. Some of those celebrate Christmas, others do not. I was really touched that they would remember. It's not like I talk about being Jewish, or even take time off for the High Holidays in the fall. One colleague asked me about Hanukkah, what it means, what the traditions are, just as I have done with others about Diwali and Eid.

And you know what? I played along. I accepted their Hanukkah wishes with thanks. I talked about the holiday. And... I felt Jewish.

I gave up celebrating Jewish holidays a long time ago, finding it incompatible with my atheism. Said atheism is hardcore, and in no danger of dissolution. But now I wonder if, like many secular Jews, I might enjoy some of it again.

So this year, do I hate Christmas? Let's see. Streaming-only TV and movies means no constant barrage of advertising. Library workplace means not forced listening to My Story of Pointless Consumption, plus unexpected exposure to genuine holiday cheer and goodwill. It's led to a slight re-emergence of my cultural roots. Plus I get two days off with pay. (When you're freelancing, no one pays you for holidays.)

Everything on this list still applies. But it's all a lot easier to bear.


i hate christmas 2013: christmas in the public library

My annual I Hate Christmas post is a mixed bag this year.

Last year, I found Christmas less awful than usual, thanks to the absence of both commercial TV and my law-firm job. Those changes are permanent (at least I hope they are!), so I may never need to hide from Christmas quite as much, ever again.

On the other hand, Christmas at the public library is a grand opportunity for alienation. The decorations, the displays of children's Christmas books, the Christmas-themed storytimes... and everyone thinks it's all hunky-dory, as long as we stick to Santa and ignore Jesus. No crosses and no creche, but Santa's sleigh and Christmas music are everywhere.

How do our many Muslim and Hindi customers feel? Do they know they're not the only ones on the outside, looking in?

A colleague recently related how a customer asked if the library could do a Ramadan-themed storytime. My colleague was all in a huff. How inappropriate! Don't they know religion belongs at home? We are a public institution, we have separation of church and state! I said I wished that were true, and pointed out (or tried to) that the library does celebrate the holidays of one religion. She said she agrees that in our Christmas storytimes, we shouldn't use a lot of songs that mention Jesus. She said this without irony.

It seems that in this predominantly Christian country, the public consciousness makes a distinction between the religious Christmas and what is seen as a secular Christmas. Santa, elves, candy, and gifts are in; Jesus, Magi, and virgin births are out. But when you're not Christian, it's a false distinction. Christmas is a Christian holiday. And it doesn't matter that the form of the celebration has pagan roots. We're not celebrating solstice.

To my few colleagues (thankfully, not the majority) who are self-absorbed enough to recite the boring details on their shopping lists, I nod vaguely and make little pretence of caring. Perhaps they notice my blank expression, or how I'm not contributing to the "conversation" (really a monologue), and they ask if I'm celebrating Chanukah. One, Chanukah was in November this year, and two, Chanukah is a minor holiday. It's not "the Jewish Christmas", any more than Christmas is the Christian Yom Kippur.

In my vision of the public library, we'd celebrate winter and spring, not Christmas and Easter. We would acknowledge the most important dates of every major religion - Ramadan and Eid, Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah, Diwali, Solstice, Visakha Puja, Gantan-sai, and more - with displays and good cheer, just as we acknowledge Halloween and Thanksgiving. But we'd leave Christmas at home with Christians, where it belongs.


i hate christmas is slightly hateful this year

I've noticed a distinct reduction in my annual irritation and disgust at the holiday madness this year.* An unexpected convergence of events has brought on a pleasant state of near-apathy.

First, no TV. Watching shows on Netflix or by download is blissfully free of advertising. No salespeople dressed up as Santa Claus, no "gift ideas" for useless crap future landfill.

Next, I haven't stepped foot in a mall. Not that I ever do much mall shopping, but my hair salon is in a mall, and sometimes some obligatory gift or errand forces me into the insanity. Not this year.

Most importantly, I'm not working as legal support staff anymore. This means no more listening to co-workers recite lists of what they are buying for whom. I don't know why people do this (they can't possibly think anyone else cares?), but for me it was the low-point of the office work environment. And it's gone!

Something also happened on the positive side of the equation. At our staff holiday lunch, people were talking about their Christmas traditions - Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day, which family they see on which day. Many have traditions connected to their ethnic heritage, like Eastern Orthodox Christmas on January 7, or seafood dinners on Christmas Eve, as many families of Italian descent do. One person was attending a sing-a-long Messiah, someone else was preparing for an extended-family tree-trimming party.

This was the first time in many years I was exposed to a Christmas that wasn't only about consumption, unhappy obligation, and stress. It was comforting to know that people have Christmas traditions that they truly love and value, beyond spending money.

I still dislike and resent that a religious holiday is a national holiday, and we're all expected to participate. I am still disgusted by the massive increase in advertising and consumerism in our world already supersaturated with consumerism.

But hiding in my little Christmas-free cocoon is a little easier this year.

* There are some very interesting discussions in those threads.


annual i hate christmas post: top ten things i hate about christmas

It's a wmtc tradition: my annual I Hate Christmas post. This year, it's a continuation of what we started here. Feel free to post your list, too, of any length. Hate only, please. If you love Christmas, go off and enjoy it.

10. "Merry Christmas"

9. "It's A Wonderful Life"

8. Ads where people are dressed up as Santa Claus

7. Inane advertising for inane "gift ideas", i.e. products that no one needs and will likely never use

6. Ignorant people bemoaning the loss of traditional Christmas, not realizing that most of these traditions are pagan

5. All talk about whether there will or won't be "a white Christmas"

4. Being forced to listen to my co-workers recite what they are buying for each person on their list

3. People asking me, "Are you ready for Christmas?"

2. Christmas muzak - everyfuckingwhere.

1. The fact that a religious holiday has become a universal holiday that we're all supposed to care about.


how do i hate christmas, let me count the ways

It appears that the tone of this post may be more angry and emotional than I intended. I wish everyone who celebrates Christmas a joyous day. I'm not ranting or raving, merely expressing my thoughts on this holiday's unique place in our world.

* * * *

I hate seeing consumer capitalism on overdrive.

I hate that a Christian holiday is a national holiday in nation where Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Sikhs, atheists, Shintos and pagans - and whoever else - are supposed to be equally welcome.

I hate being told that Christmas is no longer a Christian holiday, that it's now a secular holiday. I don't know if that's wishful thinking or amnesia or maybe guilt, but as far as I'm concerned, it's bullshit.

I hate the assumption I need to substitute some other holiday or tradition for this holiday that I don't celebrate. I know people mean well, but asking me what I celebrate instead of Christmas makes as much sense as asking my Christian neighbours what they do instead of Rosh Ha'shana.

I hate being asked "Did you have a nice Christmas?". And when I answer, "I don't celebrate Christmas, but I had a nice winter break, thanks," I hate being told, "I don't mean the holiday, I just meant the whole winter holiday season." If you meant how was my winter break, why didn't you say so?

I hate hearing about other people's Christmas shopping.

I hate being asked if I've finished my Christmas shopping.

I hate hearing Christmas muzak.

I hate people remembering food banks and other charities once a year.

During the last US presidential election, many of my Canadian friends were sick of hearing about the campaign for so long, disgusted by the volume and the omnipresence. That's how I feel about Christmas. It wouldn't be so bad if you could just tone it down. Just go have your holiday. Stop expecting everyone else to care.

I know there's no war on Christmas, only the rantings of aggrieved entitlement, people so accustomed to wielding all the power and holding all the cards that the slightest murmur of the minority viewpoint causes them to claim endangered species status. If there were a war on Christmas, I'd think about signing up.

To everyone who is celebrating today, have a happy day. Could you be a little quieter next year?


i hate christmas 2010

"The Profit," by Mr. Fish, used with his kind permission.

Friend of wmtc Joe Grav sent me the official Fuck Christmas rant, taunting me with the notion that my annual "i hate christmas" post cannot compete. He's right, of course, so I won't even try.*

Instead, enjoy this excellent video, finally available online for Canadians.

I'm actually expecting a brilliant December 25 and 26 this year, involving humour from The Larry Sanders Show, food from President's Choice, beverages from grapes, and company from my favourite person. Plus - an extreme rarity in our home - paid time off. And if that particular magic can only be conjured through an ahistorical mashup of ancient pagan rites and hollow Christianity and out-of-control capitalism, then so be it.

* Although I still need the mall for one thank-you gift. I reserve the right to rant if necessary.


christmastime for the jews, and other hilarity

This is the third holiday season I've wanted to post the same great video, but can't because of Canadian copyright restrictions. "Christmastime for the Jews" was one of Robert Smigel's brilliant cartoons for SNL, featuring a perfect Phil Spector-style Darlene Love singing over the animation.

We have it on a Smigel DVD which we watched yesterday - completely coincidentally to Christmas. US readers and Canadians with fake IP addresses can watch it here. Canadians without a workaround have to settle for audio here; there's a still from the video here.

However... searching for the video, we learned that TV Funhouse - the Comedy Central show, not the SNL shorts - is finally out on DVD! Yay! This is a must-buy for us. The short-lived, little-seen, late-night comedy was our secret obsession in the winter of 2000. It's a totally irreverent, hilarious cartoon spoof, in the style of those low-budget Hanna-Barbera cartoons from the 1970s and 80s. You might be able to see some clips here, and the trailer for the DVD is here. But I can't find audio of the theme song!
Everyone stay up and play
For the last cartoon show of the day
TV Funhouse comin' through
With animals that pee and poo
Ani-pals adventuring
Out in space or playin' with string
You did your homework, thereby earning
One last show before you turn in
Last chance to be entertained
Sleep is good but TV helps your brain
TV Funhouse!

Since I can't post the Smigel videos, I'll go with something more serious: "The Profit," by Dwayne Booth, better known as the cartoonist Mr. Fish.


it's not a wonderful movie

Here we are on December 24, and I haven't written the annual wmtc I Hate Christmas post!

I haven't found the season too oppressive this year, mainly because I'm so happy to be on my winter break from school, and have had very little contact with the so-called holiday spirit. I did have to hear the dreaded seasonal muzak while doing some errands, but mostly I've been in my own lovely Christmas-free bubble.

It helps that I don't turn on the TV. Back in the days before we could watch whatever we wanted whenever we wanted, my least favourite part of the Christmas season was the endless repetition of my least favourite movie in the world, "It's A Wonderful Life".

My loathing for this movie is partly fed by my extreme dislike of Jimmy Stewart. I grew up watching old movies, and I've had a nearly visceral disgust for Stewart probably since age 8 or 9. He's been in some excellent films, but for me any movie is marred by his ridiculous voice and pitiful, one-note acting.

But my hatred of "It's A Wonderful Life" goes way beyond Jimmy Stewart's irritating drawl. It's supposed to be the classic "one man can make a difference" movie, illustrating that we touch people lives in ways we will never know. If the world is a better place because of our presence, then everything we do does matter. Nice message, right? Sounds like something I should get behind.

But why does George Bailey want to end his life? Why is he so despondent, and what if an angel hadn't visited him? Because they usually don't, you know. When people tumble into the abyss of despair, seldom does an angel appear to pull them out. When dreams die, as George Bailey's dreams did, either we painfully construct new dreams, or live without dreams, or give up. When life sucks, some outsider telling us that really our lives are just peachy and wonderful does not usually brighten our day.

Beyond the saccharine and the treacle, the plot has holes wide enough to drive a Hummer through. Come on, am I the only person who thought Pottersville - the alternate-reality town that would have existed if Bailey had never been born - was a cooler, more fun place than Bedford Falls? No! Turns out I was not. Wendell Jamieson, who wrote this essay, loves the movie, but insists it's a different movie than most people know.
"It's a Wonderful Life" is a terrifying, asphyxiating story about growing up and relinquishing your dreams, of seeing your father driven to the grave before his time, of living among bitter, small-minded people. It is a story of being trapped, of compromising, of watching others move ahead and away, of becoming so filled with rage that you verbally abuse your children, their teacher and your oppressively perfect wife. It is also a nightmare account of an endless home renovation.

I haven't seen it on a movie screen since that first time, but on Friday it begins its annual pre-Christmas run at the IFC Cinema in Greenwich Village. I plan to take my 9-year-old son and my father, who has never seen it the whole way through because he thinks it's too corny.

How wrong he is.

I'm no movie critic, and I'll leave to others any erudite evaluation of the film as cinematic art, but to examine it closely is to experience "It's a Wonderful Life" on several different levels.

Many are pulling the movie out of the archives lately because of its prescience on the perils of trusting bankers. I’ve found, after repeated viewings, that the film turns upside down and inside out, and some glaring — and often funny — flaws become apparent. These flaws have somehow deepened my affection for it over the years.

Take the extended sequence in which George Bailey (James Stewart), having repeatedly tried and failed to escape Bedford Falls, N.Y., sees what it would be like had he never been born. The bucolic small town is replaced by a smoky, nightclub-filled, boogie-woogie-driven haven for showgirls and gamblers, who spill raucously out into the crowded sidewalks on Christmas Eve. It's been renamed Pottersville, after the villainous Mr. Potter, Lionel Barrymore's scheming financier.

Here's the thing about Pottersville that struck me when I was 15: It looks like much more fun than stultifying Bedford Falls — the women are hot, the music swings, and the fun times go on all night. If anything, Pottersville captures just the type of excitement George had long been seeking.

And what about that banking issue? When he returns to the "real" Bedford Falls, George is saved by his friends, who open their wallets to cover an $8,000 shortfall at his savings and loan brought about when the evil Mr. Potter snatched a deposit mislaid by George's idiot uncle, Billy (Thomas Mitchell).

But isn't George still liable for the missing funds, even if he has made restitution? I mean, if someone robs a bank, and then gives the money back, that person still robbed the bank, right?

There's only one good thing about "It's A Wonderful Life". Bing Crosby isn't in it. As my grandmother used to say, things can always get worse.


what would you do? (i hate christmas, part 3)

I was very interested in your comments to my post i hate christmas, part 2. Some of them surprised me, but it was interesting to see the range of reaction. Even more surprising, I had an unsatisfactory answer from human resources, which I posted in comments on that post.

Today I exchanged little holiday cards with a few co-workers. A woman I used to work with left a card for me. We were friendly when we worked together, then she had a schedule change, and we haven't seen each other in many months.

The pre-printed part of her card reads:
Celebrate the season...
Worship the Reason...
Experience the joy...

She wrote "Dear Laura" and "Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a blessed 2009" in red - and underlined the words "Worship the Reason", also in red. The R in Reason is upper-case.

And the bottom of the card, in small type, is printed: "Rejoice in the Lord always." Philippians 4:4. She also underlined the quote in red.

She knows I'm Jewish. I don't think she would know I am atheist, I can't imagine we ever talked beliefs, but I'm sure she knows I'm Jewish.

This woman is generally a nice person, a good worker, and pleasant to be around. But I'm absolutely offended by this. Coming as I'm sitting in a cubicle decorated in creches, angels and baby Jesuses, it feels insulting.

I'm sure it wasn't her intention to insult me. But knowing I am Jewish, she is proselytizing. And that is an insult.

What would you do?

I'm not asking for advice. I've already done whatever I'm going to do or not do. But I'm interested to hear what you all would do, if anything, in this situation.

If you're Christian, you have to imagine this from the other perspective. You work in a place where you are the only person who doesn't celebrate the Jewish High Holy Days. At Rosh Hashanah, your Jewish co-workers distribute Shana Tovah cards. Someone, knowing you are Christian, gives you a card. She wishes you a Happy New Year and implies that you should See The Light.

What would you do?


i hate christmas, part two

Further to my earlier post, I came into work this weekend to find the office (where I work on weekends) has been decorated to the nines. Someone had the idea of using cubicle decorations as a way of raising money for a needy family, and who can complain about that. Surely not me.

I don't like the wreaths, I don't like the ribbons, I don't like the snowflakes. Despite the wintery themes, this is still about Christmas. But I can't say anything - especially working part-time.

But when my own cubicle - which I see a mere two days each week, and which I share with two or three other employees - is adorned with pictures of Baby Jesus, Mother Mary, angels and wise men, I have to speak up.

I noticed there is a Hanukah motif in one cubicle, so I tried to pre-empt that weak argument.

My email, below.

[HR people]:

I'm sorry to bother you with this, but I feel compelled to speak up.

At this time of year when most people are celebrating Christmas, it's worth remembering that not everyone does. Holiday decorations are always pleasant, but I think pictures depicting religious scenes are not appropriate for the workplace.

I don't think Christian employees would feel comfortable if Muslim or Jewish employees hung religious pictures or symbols. Likewise, those of us who are not Christian may feel uncomfortable seeing religious pictures in our secular workplace. I do. Hanging Chanukah decorations does not make things "even". I don't think any religious depictions are appropriate.

I wonder if you could ask employees to limit Christmas decorations to the non-religious variety. Naturally I would appreciate it if this note is kept confidential.

Thank you very much for your understanding.

Let's see what happens.


i hate christmas comes early this year

My Christmas filters are not functioning properly. I think the energy I usually expend keeping Christmas out of my life is being diverted by anxiety over the war resisters and the political situation. I feel like an old Star Trek episode: too much power is diverted, the shields won't hold.

I notice that last year, I didn't write "I hate Christmas" until December 20. (If you go back and read that old post, be sure to check out the comments. There are some great links.) This year, I have so much hate for Christmas, my rant starts three weeks early.

I hate the advertising.

I hate the constant exhortations to buy useless things.

I hate the music.

I hate the assumption that I celebrate this Christian holiday.

I hate the assumption, since I don't celebrate Christmas, that I must be celebrating Chanukah, as if Chanukah has fuck-all to do with Christmas.

I hate that this Christian holiday is plastered all over our supposedly secular world. Ramadan isn't pushed in our face this way, nor Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, nor Diwali, nor Yule, nor any important holiday of any other religion. Although I'm sure if any of those holidays somehow morphed into a compulsory spending spree, marketers and advertisers would find a way to exploit it.

I don't hate your Christmas. If Christmas is meaningful to you, I hope you fully enjoy it. But I don't expect other people to celebrate the days that are meaningful in my life, and I hate that people expect this of me.

I would no sooner celebrate the birth of Jesus than I would celebrate the birth of Zeus. (Although Allan and I might celebrate the birth of Dionysus.) But the modern-day version of the birth of Jesus means nothing to me because... I'm not Christian!

Spare me the rationalization about Christmas now being a secular holiday. That offends me even more. Your habits and customs are not the standard, applied to all. That's like assuming everyone is heterosexual, or speaks English - or is "American". Celebrating Christmas may be the norm where you live, and the practice may be overwhelmingly popular, but that doesn't make it secular.

Recently someone told me that if I had kids, I would celebrate Christmas. Wrong! If I had kids, that wouldn't turn me into a Christian, and I wouldn't raise my kids with somebody else's traditions. My kids wouldn't be "deprived" of Christmas. That's like saying lesbians are deprived of having sex with men. Do Canadians feel deprived because they don't celebrate the Fourth of July?

Last year, I wrote, "Despite these feelings, I do participate in some ways," referring to holiday cards (some years), a few obligatory presents, and some end-of-year appreciation tips. I wrote, "I do use this time of year as a time for those kinds of acknowledgements. It's easier than being truly eccentric and doing that in, say, February." This still works for me, more out of convenience than anything else. If there was a more convenient way to do this, at another time of year, I would do it. But year's end, vaguely between Christmas and New Year's, works for me. Naturally we would never buy or make a card with any suggestion of Christmas, and of course no religiosity.

This year I hate Christmas so much, we're not even discussing cards. Also, money is tight, and card-sending really adds up. But it's not just our budget. It's my irritated brain.


i hate christmas

Only five more days.

Only five more days of "Have you finished all your shopping?" and "What are you doing for Christmas?" and listening to the long litany of what my co-workers got for people I don't know and will never meet. Only five more days of this most irritating and pervasive assumption that I celebrate this holiday, because doesn't everybody? Only five more days, and sometimes I think I will explode before I get there.

As with so many things, it's less in Canada than in the US. It's lower-key here, and it starts later. And thank goodness for that, because my tolerance for this Christmas bullshit is decreasing every year. When I was younger I used to like to see the windows on Fifth Avenue (a popular New York tourist attraction) and St. Patrick's Cathedral in its Christmas finery. But after you've done that a half-dozen times or so, the attraction wanes, then disappears.

I'm grateful I've always lived in a place where I can say, "I don't celebrate Christmas," without seeming like a freak. In New York City, now in the GTA, lots of people don't celebrate Christmas. Even so, people may be somewhat startled when you say it. Sometimes they'll stammer, "I just meant the holidays in general". I'll play along to be polite, but you know what? There are no "holidays in general". Christmas is a religious holiday and if you aren't Christian, it has absolutely no meaning. I understand that some non-Christians have adopted Christmas as some type of secular ritual, but I can't understand why. No one has adopted Yom Kippur or Eid or Ramadan - or Easter - that way.

Despite these feelings, I do participate in some ways. If I have your email address, you've probably received a card from us. Some years we've spent quite a lot of time and effort making our own card, and we enjoyed that. We make some donations, we give some end-of-year tips for services, and we buy a few presents, some obligatory, others out of appreciation. I do use this time of year as a time for those kinds of acknowledgements. It's easier than being truly eccentric and doing that in, say, February.

But it's a bare minimum. Mostly I just wish it would all go away, and the sooner, the better.



Happy Christmas to wmtc readers who celebrate it, and an extra happy un-christmas to those who don't.

We both work this extended weekend and next, but with greatly reduced hours. We move next Tuesday, Jan 2, so the extra time off is great timing. And this paid time off - what a concept! It almost makes up for having a day-job. Almost.

Today we're having our newly traditional Mississauga un-christmas: dim sum. Can two years in a row be called a tradition? Why not!

A typical New York City Jewish Christmas means Chinese food and the movies. The whole Jewish population of the city - sizeable, as you know - goes out for Chinese food, and everyone of any background who's had enough of their family goes out to the movies. The city's gazillion Chinese restaurants are packed, along with every movie theatre. On our last Christmas in New York, we pulled out all the stops.

Last year, our first in Canada, we ventured to a dim sum restaurant recommended by then-new reader - and now our friend - M@. We were thrilled to find the place rocking, just like New York. Unlike New York, we were one of the few non-Asian people there.

The Star recently ran a little piece (which I can't find online) highlighting what non-Christians in the GTA do on Christmas Day. There were Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, Buddhists, one Jew - and no atheists. The Jewish woman said she was doing what most of Toronto's Jewish population does - having Chinese food and renting movies. I felt right at home.


where i'm not

The Globe And Mail's travel section today highlights Manhattan. New York can be magical this time of year. I've heard the same about Montreal, and would love to see for myself.

But thoughts of winter in my hometown brought back a very different kind of memory. And I realized...

This is my first Christmas not stuck in Rockefeller Center on the weekends!!! HOORAY.


our "christmas"

We never made it to the movies, but we had a lovely New York day, and today I'm filled with the goodbye-New-York blues more than ever.

First, excellent dim sum at HSF in Chinatown, which was packed with both Chinese families and (apparently) Jewish families. All I can say is thank goodness there's a huge Chinese population in Toronto.

After dim sum, we wandered around the part of Chinatown that used to be Little Italy. Little Italy these days is really just a few restaurants hanging on as the area grows increasingly Asian, mostly (I think) Vietnamese. It's cool to see the transition. I love the shops in Chinatown, the big jars of ginseng and dried fish, the tea shops and bakeries. Though the best Asian food in NYC is now in Queens, the city's original Chinatown is still thriving.

I had heard of a hotel bar and lounge that was supposed to be a knock-out - we love hotel bars - so wandered over to Tribeca to check out the Tribeca Grand Hotel (click on Tribeca, then Church Lounge, I can't link to that). It is simply fabulous. On Christmas day, it was quiet, though not deserted, and very warm and friendly. If you're up for an expensive, delicious drink in a gorgeous setting, you can't do much better than this.

After that, walking around looking for a "bar bar" for a less expensive pint, Allan remembered Chumley's. We hadn't been there in probably 15 years, and Allan somehow remembered where it is! (Which absolutely amazed me, considering our fried brains.) Ah, Chumley's. It hasn't changed at all, complete with the unmarked door and secret back entrance.

If you're visiting my fair city and find yourself in the West Village (which you should), look for this gem at Bedford and Barrow Streets. If it's cold out, a fire will be blazing in the fireplace. You might have to ask a fat, old dog to move so you can sit down.

I love New York and I'm going to miss it. I'm glad it's in my blood. Living here has changed me, forged me, and I'm grateful for it.


a new york jewish christmas

One last traditional New York Jewish Christmas: Chinese food and a movie. I'm really getting the leaving-New-York blues.

Those of you who celebrate this holiday, I hope you have a wonderful day.

Lately I've been seeing desk-pounding pieces by right-wingers up in arms because most people now say "Happy Holidays," to be more inclusive, as opposed to "Merry Christmas," which assumes everyone is Christian. Clearly the end of civilization as we know it. Next thing you know, the women will wear pants and the darkies will go to school with our children!

One guy called it revisionist history. Actually, it's just the opposite. It's progress.