Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Reflections on, The Holidays

Hey-Hey, Loyal Readers!

Sorry it's been so long since I've posted.  Here are my prerequisite weak-ass excuses:
  1. I just spent nine days in a place where consistent internet reliability is still in the theoretical stages.
  2. I'm spending all my free time editing a six-hundred and sixty-five page book which is the equivalent of working on a term paper THAT NEVER GOES AWAY.
  3. 'Tis the season for sloth.
  4. Between reading Ken Follett's Pillars of the Earth and J.W. Rinzler's amazing The Making of The Empire Strikes Back I've been as distracted as a kid with O.C.D. at Comic-Con.
  5. Nothing of any real pressing import has inspired me to write.
But write I must and write I shall.  I just wanted to take a moment to observe what it was like to spend a brief amount of time back home in Newfoundland for Christma..., er, The Holidays.

According to a census in 2001 the population in Newfoundland and Labrador was 508,875.  Of that population, 187,445 call themselves Catholic and 303,200 were listed as Protestant.   That means that under 2% of the population is of a different faith.  Now, granted, this was ten years ago, but trust me when I tell you that Newfoundland still isn't what I'd describe as a religious melting pot.

Frankly, it's fascinating to spend ten days in a place who's provincial home-grown television station NTV unabashedly wishes all of it's viewers a "Merry Christmas!".  Or the local weekly TV guide The Newfoundland Herald innocently features a nativity scene on the cover.  Everywhere I went people were throwing around the sentiment of "Merry Christmas!" with such gratuitous, gleeful, reckless abandon I felt like I was ten years old again.

Lemme tell ya, folks, these people certainly don't need any tired, cliched signs on the side of a church to be reminded that "Jebus is the Reason for the Aforementioned Season".  They have four-hundred and ninety thousand other residents to do it for them!  

For someone who's worked in anally-retentive/overtly-politically-correct environments for the past fifteen years this was a bit of a system shock.  After all I've witnessed a company's solicitation policies invoked when someone tried to give a co-worker a Christmas card.  I've witnesses the equivalent of a U.N. debate when it was proposed that the name of the annual "Christmas Party" be changed to the blandly non-committal "Winter Gala".  When someone asked if they could "wish their customers 'Merry Christmas'?" the powers-that-be answered "Well, if in doubt go with a nice, generic, non-threatening 'Happy Holidays'!" then I always erred on the side of caution and never said it at all. 

Thanks to a long line of work-related authority figures I came to view those two words as the sentimental equivalent of touching a hot burner on a stove.  

But this really didn't upset me very much.  In a way, I think their concern is justified.  Trust me, I'm not a very religious person (read: at all) and I despise thoughts of exclusion.  I hated it when my Muslim pal Sohail in Grade Four had to put his head down or leave the room when we said the Lord's prayer in school.  I would also cringe when I overheard ignorant yahoos wish their contact at "Meyer & Rabinowitz Law Firm" a Merry Christmas. 

But there's something so charmingly innocent about spending time in Newfoundland during this time of year.  It's like being in an episode of Mad Men with less misogyny and a bit more drinking.

Look, I know our world is more multicultural then ever, and frankly, I wouldn't have it any other way.  I like variety in my fellow global co-inhabitants.  Different people and their beliefs makes living on this particular planet all the more interesting.

But the innocent child in me still wants permission to gleefully and giddily wish people an uninhibited "Merry Christmas".  I don't want to feel as if I've just gotten away with something on those rare occasion when I say it or experience pangs of regret for uttering a sentiment that is, in this day and age, seems almost anarchically naive and exclusive. 

Those days may be gone which makes me a little sad.  And also strangely relieved...

EPIC: The debate rages!

It's okay!  Isn't it?

FAIL:  Completely unrelated, but I can't believe how natural this kid is able to act after smoking his Dad in the head with a DVD:

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