Bah Bah Black Sheep

Monday 15 December 2014

Creative commons pic by AdamKR

Ponder this:  Santa sees you when you're sleeping, and he knows when you're awake.  Ergo, Santa knew that that little kid was watching him kiss her mummy.  That child woke from her slumber, heard something going on, and snuck down those stairs for a peek.  HE KNEW!  Santa knew, but he went right ahead pashing her mum.  And if that's not creepy, then I don't know what is.

Seriously, though, there's about 16,000 reasons ahead of that one why I loathe Christmas.  It's not even the Jesusy bits either.  I'm quite partial to his far-seeing, regardless of whether he lived or not.  Some of my loathing is probably partially due to the fact that his birthday wouldn't even have been on 25 December anyway, that this whole thing we do was a convenient way for a creepy church to do away with all that nasty pagan earthy womany dirty solstice stuff and slap a bit of Jesus in there to whiten it all up.

Christmas is empty, meaningless and void.  As far as a ritual goes, it's cobbled-together shite, an excuse to load up consuming extra stuff for no real reason whatsoever, unless you are a Christian.  I guess when you look at where our culture is at in the decay/renewal stakes, Christmas is actually the perfect end-of-year ritual for a collective space that has also become empty, meaningless and void.

Creative commons pic by Andrew
I imagine some people would be protesting now reading this.  What a depressing cow.  And If I was able to peer closer, I would think it would be a reasonable bet that many of the ones protesting loudest would have young children in tow.  It must be a lovely thing, to be sure, the pleasure of giving your child gifts, of seeing their pleasure in return.  How good that would make you feel.   Especially after being marketed to for months about how wonderful you're going to feel giving your kids all those presents.

If I could wave a wand, I would replace Christmas, sometime soon, logically, the same way it is logical to stop using coal as an energy source when a sun beats above our heads.  Because it's quite obviously reached its use-by date.  But Christmas is not going to stop anytime soon, and parents are forced to keep the tired old show running (especially because for many them it probably doesn't feel tired and old at all) because there is nothing like Christmas to guilt a parent into feeling they have to give their kid way more than is good for them.  That's actually why these brave souls have cancelled gift-giving this year.  I take my hat off to them.

I don't have children, so I'm happy to continue to be the grinch who wants to kill Christmas.  Now, the traditional retort of bah humbug may also come from those who ride the swell of the season without paying it too much mind.  It's just Christmas, you know, and just like the weather's hot and the beach is beckoning we have tinsel and trees and Santa and stuff.  That's what we do. What's the ish?

That kind of swell-riding is, well, swell if you can go there.  Not everything needs deep massive analysis and inspecting about where it all fits together - or should - in the system so that stuff works properly and we get to live beautiful.  Unless you're me.  And so therefore I struggle to go there, to empty ritual, because it actually hurts me.  This may sound weird to some people but that's just how I roll.

But hey, I understand why hating Christmas categorises me as a scrooge.  And I understand the need for traditions in the face of so much uncertainty.  But Christmas hurts me in the same way that watching the economic bit at the end of the news hurts me, with its relentless focus on economic growth without ever once mentioning that it is impossible for such a thing to keep happening in our current economic system without continuing to kill the earth's resources and make climate change worse.

When you find yourself living in a bizarre and dysfunctional paradigm, empty rituals can be as creepy as Santa copping a feel of Mum under the mistletoe.  I've thought a lot about this sort of thing in the last 15 years of enforced solitude through chronic illness.  Meaningful rituals are absolutely necessary for a culture to keep itself glued together.  I guess that's why I'm not so sure Jesus wouldn't have sympathy to my desire to ditch the whole Christmas thing.  He seemed to have some kind of an understanding of the importance of wine needing new wineskins.  Empty, dead, floppy rituals may possibly be intellectually dangerous to people requiring empowerment, people who have been so heavily and heartily Bernaysed.

I love my family, but my partner and I are resigning from Christmas this year and going away, to a mudbrick house halfway betwen Daylesford and Castlemaine.  My illness has flared horribly this year, my anxiety is extreme, and I don't know from one hour to the next how I will be feeling.  Apart from the fact that I just simply physically don't know if I can do it this year, the fact that the meaning behind the get-together is something so empty with such high expectations, makes me feel worse.  The fact that in the end it's just a get-together meal with my family is something that I struggle to get to from the layers that surround it.

Can't we get together in March instead?

Can you imagine a collective ritual whose individual elements fit together to make some kind of story, one which has resonance and relevance to our daily lives?  One that makes us feel or think differently, that opens us all up a little so that the shame of being called consumers all year by lying politicians can seep out and be replaced by something a little more edifying and heartening and empowering?  A ritual that's sort of something like a big roleplaying game that you can walk into and play each year.  A ritual that means something, that helps us feel part of something bigger than ourselves that is beautiful, not destructive?

I don't quite know what that is.  But it'd be a ritual worth doing, I reckon.


  1. I think maybe you need to look into the OBOD druid festivals. We have eight a year. Each with their own historical and/or seasonal meaning, each modified by practitioners to suit local conditions. the theory is we need more time sot celebrate together in ways that connect us to the land and to community and to our ancestors. Since christmas just about all our society has, i join into the spirit of the thing by making or finding presents i think my loved ones will get a lot out of. (And I do this very early to avoid the madness and to give me time to pick the right things and enjoy the process.) I see it as a time to come together with family who are often too busy the rest of the year to do this. I do try though to avoid the shops entirely for a week or so in advance of the day. :)

    I'm sorry your anxiety is bad right now. Mine blew up after an antibiotic from my dentist back in Early November and I'm still just getting a handle back on it. It sucks more than just about anything else my poor body does!

    Have a lovely and peaceful time in your cottage with your beloved!

    1. Poo, my comment didn't stick the first time.

      I might have to look a little into these festivals. It sounds lovely enough to bypass my resistance to organised things.

      That is very wise of you to get organised with gifts early and avoid stress. Is everyone getting a cope of your book?

    2. No, I needed to get another proof to check my changes. I really wanted to just go for it and make it available for Christmas, but once it is set up to print it won't be changed so best to take my time and get it right. Anyway, not sure my family would appreciate receiving it, though some probably would. :)

      My dear departed mum in law was a great one for finding presents all year round and storing them away with great glee so I think I got that habit off her. She loved Christmas and I loved her and enjoyed seeing her pleasure, so I think that helps a lot with my current attitude to that holiday.

      The OBOD festivals might or might not be organised depending on where you live. Here we just do our own thing at home. Not many Druids in my neck of the woods. :)

    3. Inspired by your comment I went to their page and began listening to a pretty cool podcast, one section of which is a very cool talk about spiritual alchemy. Right up my alley. Very drawn to the idea of dipping my feet further, although group meetings of any type always carry a tinge of claustrophobia. Just an oddity, maybe I could get past that.

      I think if you gave your book to everybody at Xmas ... Maybe better its not ready in time just to avoid that temptation he he.

      You have a well-adjusted attitude to Xmas. I often tolerate it better but not this year. I hope you have a great time.

    4. LOL, yes, a bit tacky to just get out a box full of my own books and start wrapping. :D I did give it to my sister-in-law as a late gift. The second proof is gorgeous so it's all go now!

      Oh yes the Druidcast podcasts are fantastic. some really interesting speakers on there even if you aren't a Druid. :) that alchemy talk was fascinating! Any of the ones by Prof Ronald Hutton will be amazing too, and I love to listen to Philip Carr-Gomm too, whatever the topic

      Plenty of Druids are solitaries. I am. There aren't many of them in Perth and too widely spread to do much, plus there is my health. Bleagh. As you know, very limiting at times for us both! Still, I study with them and am up to Ovate level and love the studies and both my tutors so far have been marvelous. I came to Druidry by way of Damh the Bard's music, and he is host of that podcast. Hubby had books on Druidry but they were all pretty old and dry compared to the living thing, so until I found Damh I never really realised what it could be like.

      Our Chrissie was nice, just a smallish family dinner Christmas Eve then quiet on the day. I hope you had a lovely time away!

    5. We did have a nice time away, very relaxing.

      I look forward to going back and listening to more podcasts.I know a few others who came to listen via Damh the Bard's music too

  2. Ps. I'm Keechy, Had a name change on blogger. :D

    1. I just clicked after all this time, or else remembered after forgetting, how we managed to come across each other :-)

    2. Yes that was a bit of luck. :)

  3. ps "...a creepy church to do away with all that nasty pagan earthy womany dirty solstice stuff and slap a bit of Jesus in there to whiten it all up."


  4. I understand your perspective and respect that you are honest about your feelings. It's brave to be so clear about what Christmas means (or doesn't mean) to you.

    I'd have to say, though, that my personal experience is different. Even with or without religious elements, even with or without gifts, for me it's about making extra effort to spend time with people I care about, to maintain some old traditions and create some new ones. Our gift giving is VERY simple -- the holiday is so much more about time spent together, cookie baking, Christmas light viewing, movie watching, cider drinking, candle smelling. Is the origin of the tradition empty? Yes, for most people. Should it be? I don't know. But, it's created a greater climate -- at least for some people -- of making a special space each year to be intentional about loving others. I HATE the consumerism, the "hustle and bustle" that is so fondly sung of this time of year. But I love the lights, I love the food, I love the time with family and friends.

    But, I also think the difference in the seasons may make a huge difference. Here, we are wintering-in, battening down the hatches, lighting the fires and the candles. I don't know that I'd feel the same if Christmas was in the middle of summer. I try to imagine how different that would be.

    1. Agh, see, this is what a normal person does at Christmas. I hope you have an enjoyable time and enjoy your break :-)

    2. I don't know that it's less "normal" to feel the way you do. I just find my experience to be different than yours. I do notice that I feel very differently since deconverting. It's so much more about the winter solstice and the changing of the seasons, in an astronomical way, not in a metaphysical way, although there was a time when druidry definitely drew me, too. So I get that, as well.

      I mean, the trees! See, this is the time of year for trees around here...those that are naked waiting for the spring, and those that are evergreen and are watching over all the others. Somehow, that is huge to me. I'm weird that way.

    3. Ooh, lovely! Naked trees are just so amazingly beautiful and evocative. Trees are awesome. Just awesomely awesome. Enjoy them.

      Well, I guess it feels abnormal to REACT the way I do by running away. But I'm actually not well enough to deal with it this year, so I'm kind of okay about running away when I'm not feeling horrendously guilty

    4. Run runaway (earworm for you - or maybe not in Australia) if that's what suits you best. It's a good thing to be true to yourself. No guilt or apologies. I've had to take responsibility for my OWN Christmas experience the last few years. Trying to play a game that one doesn't have any heart to is choosing not to love oneself. And cognitive dissonance sucks.

    5. Thank you so much for this <3

      Run Runaway, I cant remember the words except for something about a chameleon lying there in the sun. That one?

    6. Yes, that one. But it's ironically appropriate..."see the chameleon, lying there in the sun, all things to everyone, run runaway". Which, is cognitive dissonance, in essence.

  5. Good for you, little black sheep :)

    After many, many years of spending my (few) hard earned dollars on shite for family members we hardly ever saw, only to be trashed or thrown into a cupboard a few days later, I decided on a change of tack.

    I visited local over burdened animal shelters before Christmas and gave them much needed - and appreciated - donations.
    I would then slip the various donation receipts into cards - to be given to family members on Christmas day when we gathered at the grandparents, saying that their “gift dollars” were spent on those who were truly in need, and that we hoped they understood and appreciated the gesture.

    Needless to say, this didn’t go down well… AT ALL.
    I “broke the rules”. Bad me :)
    But, what do you get people who are spoiled with material possessions and want for absolutely nothing?

    Why should one day cause such stress and dissension among so many?
    No. ONE day doesn’t. People, and the pressure they seem to agree to put themselves under, cause the dissension. Sigh.

    Now we live on the other side of the country. I can “spare” relatives such future embarrassment I guess.

    Nowadays, our Christmas - just with the three of us, and our old boy Jack, is cosy and simple. A couple of simple, small meaningful gifts under a small rustic tree, a simple picnic lunch in a quiet country park and later, watching movies with a kahlua/baileys in hand. Sweet.

    So Sue, relish your wonderful escape to beautiful Daylesford. Eat what you want, drink and be cheerful, and tell the world and its societal expectations to go fuck itself.
    Life is way too short as it is…

    Baa xx

    1. Hello Ms V!!! :)

      I love your idea of giving gifts where they are needed. How sad that the recipients didn't know what they were getting :(

      I have been backing out of Xmas for years. The whole gift thing went by the wayside some time ago, but before it did a few family members all bought each other a goat, or a sheep, or something else from the World Vision catalogue and it was just so lovely.

      Your grandparents loss.

      I guess some people love big days, don't they? Others don't much. I'm in the second group.

      Your Christmas day sounds just lovely. Enjoy xo

  6. You might be surprised (given my tendency to slap a bit of Jesus into my life) but I agree. While it is my bag to celebrate the birth and life of Jesus, and also to mark the seasons and the rich darkness of winter, not to mention seeing family (in moderate doses, mutual I'm sure) I dislike the onslaught of "Christmas" and All The Rules so I'm envious of you escaping. I hope you had a chance to breathe and rest and feel hopeful.


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