Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmasy Pet Peeves- 7 QuickTakes

It's hard being a priest's wife. Apparently, I either shouldn't exist or I should be a smiling, perfectly holy, human-shaped piece of wall paper with no opinions (according to multiple commenters that I haven't published because of profanity). So, in a little fit of rebellion, my quick takes this Friday will embrace my inner pessimistic curmudgeon; I'll be back to trying to be charitable in my next post:

My Top 7 Christmasy Pet Peeves

1. Mrs. Santa exists. No, she doesn't. Saint Nicholas of Myra (the origin of Santa Claus) was a great Eastern Catholic (!) bishop; bishops are celibate. Hence Virginia, there is no Mrs. Claus. Well- perhaps she is his sister or cousin?

2. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer exists. No, he doesn't (hear that? That's the sound of people un-following this blog). I love the stop-motion animated Rudolph and the companion Rudolph's Shiny New Year. We have the DVDs and watch them every year. But my kids know- Rudolph isn't in the original poem "A Visit from Saint Nicholas" by Clement C. Moore, the 'canon' poem for the West's image of Saint Nicholas/Santa Claus. 

3. We should be super-moms. Advent is an austere season of quiet preparation and fasting (for Eastern Catholics) with an automatic switch to festive Christmas celebrations until the Transfiguration. Perhaps the Perfect Catholic Mom(TM) can make all Christmas preparations while the kids are sleeping so that Advent does not bleed into Christmas for them, but that isn't me. We bake a bit during Advent and yes, have Christmas concerts during this time. This is the world we live in. We do make a strong effort to keep celebrating after December 25th, however. 

My Advent/St. Phillip's Fast is this: fasting (an Eastern Catholic thing) from meat except Sundays and doing the Jesse tree with the kids in the evening. The nativity set is out without Baby Jesus and the Magi. We are slowly bringing things out, Christmas music, videos and books. That's it. It is a process. My older sister doesn't do a Jesse tree- too stressful. Their Advent tradition is to eat dinner by the light of the Advent wreath and sing:

We're waiting for Jesus like Mary- We're waiting for Jesus the Lord
Come down Lord Jesus! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
The whole world is waiting for love; the whole world is waiting for love!

Isn't that beautiful, simple and doable?! Advent is set apart as a time of preparation, but  this tradition isn't too much- We can learn a lot from that.

4. Shopping at malls is top priority; it's our patriotic duty to stimulate the economy.  The latest plastic must-have toys and electronic gadgets (they're all getting kindles, iphones and flip cameras right?) are the way that your kids know that you love them. Well... I need to prop up banks and charge things that I can't pay off so they can charge me fees? No- I'll live within my means, thank you.  Sometimes I suspect that the scowling faces I see at the stores during this time aren't based on getting a bad parking space or needing more sleep during this busy time- I think many people are worried about paying basic bills but are still charging stuff to placate family and friends.

5. or.... everything has to be homemade, organic, free range and free trade- Around here, we are trying to get more homemade and more free trade but we don't turn up our noses at plastic toys (anyway, Lego and Playmobil are plastic) . Boy is getting some 'vintage' Fisher Price Little People (wooden and plastic) that I got off of Ebay. In terms of getting more homemade with our gift choices, I'm already making plans for next year. Slow and steady wins the race to a peaceful, handmade Christmas!

6. China- We need your cheap goods! The U.S. needs you to buy more of our debt! Who cares if you have no employer oversight or environmental regulations! It is great that you are the only country that manufactures Christmas lights- now we don't need to comparison shop! It's great that even the candy canes at the local shop are made in China- I wouldn't want to have to budget to be to afford candy from See's. And I really, really NEED an inflatable fruitcake! Charge it, please!

7. Today is the 6th day of Christmas! It's all over on Christmas day, December 25th! Then, pack up the ornaments and throw out the tree. December 26th is for going to the mall and returning any gift that wasn't just perfect. Sorry to burst your bubble- this isn't true. The 12 days of Christmas start on December 25th...the second day of Christmas isn't for shopping. Go to church again (anyway- it's a Sunday this year) and then spend the day again with family and friends. No pressure- eat leftovers, but keep the Christmas music on at least until Epiphany/Theophany. Technically, the Christmas season is as long as the Advent season. Let's party (with reverence, of course)!

Is this scandalous- especially being anti-Mrs. Claus & Rudolph? 
...Merry Advent, anyway!


  1. You make me smile everytime. And think. Which is equally if not more important!

  2. Well said!!

    I have issues with Rudolph too. I like the 'traditional' version of Santa and his team.

    We don't fast, but I try to make Advent different from Christmas.

    I think Mrs. Claus came about because we all know a good man needs a good woman behind him. We keep it all running smoothly :)

  3. Haha it's okay, I'm anti-Santa.
    And I love playmobil :)

  4. It really is sad how hard people are trying to convert the wonderful celebration of Our Lord's Incarnation into Atheist Gift Exchange Day.

  5. #7 - to me, nothing is sadder than seeing Christams trees ready for the trash on the 26th. And, Christmas Eve we will have packed to the rafters Masses and Sunday will be lighter than usual (I work in Church) because folks will have already come once that week.
    In general, whenever people say they expect perfection, I reminid them who was and what happened to the last perfect person.

  6. "What happened to the last perfect person."

    I love it. I might have to remember that one. --Diane

  7. I love these "scandalous" takes!

  8. Thanks for the sane insight into an insane world. It's really food for thought and very freeing to have it said. Yes, I now know that St. Nicholas is a Byzantine gift to us. Thanks.
    I'm stealing Deanna's "perfect person" line.
    Happy Advent.

  9. I have been enjoying your blog so much lately- I am glad you-- 1. exist :) and 2. are real and not "perfectly holy", it is nice to know it is okay to be normal and human even if your husband is a priest.

  10. AMEN on #7!

    Our tree goes up about 22 Dec (so it's not a mad rush to decorate on the 24th) and stays proudly up until well after Epiphany.

    It isn't so bad now, but when the children were little and bringing friends in, we heard a lot of "What, your tree isn't up yet?" in December and a lot of "What, your tree's STILL up?!" from 1 January on.

    Lots of opportunity to explain about the Twelve Days of Christmas, I guess. (We're Latin Rite Catholics).

    And yes, the discarded trees on 26 December are a saddening sight.

  11. kari- how nice of you to say so! :)

    I'm trying to get be holier- but aren't we all?

  12. Our RCIA director gave everyone little rosaries that were...yep...made in China. My boyfriend drily announced in the car: "this partial indulgence brought to you by starving Chinese children."
    I'm keeping it and praying on it anyway - with intentions for our Chinese brothers and sisters. And in a very literal sense, MY Chinese brothers and sisters families.

  13. Kassie- That's such a good idea- to turn it into a prayer- and then...privately go to the RCIA director and tell her what you know about abuses in China and then volunteer to teach how to make rosaries (yup- more work for you) Your rosaries are so beautiful!

  14. This is how I have always tryed to show my four daughters when they were growing up:The tree stands for the eternal life Christ gives us.The lights we put up on the house are to show christ is the light of the world.The feasting and family get-togethers celebrate God coming to this earth to give us eternal life,(his birth ect..)if we believe the bible is true and give ourselves to Christ.The giving of gifts celebrates Gods gifts to us or also giving our gift to the Baby Christ.Santa and the raindeer are all just harmless traditions I let my littles play.It never hurt my andmy families understanding of what Our christmas is all about.

  15. I've no idea what country you're in but it sounds pretty complicated being seen as a religious.... adjunct? Not sure what word to use!

    Our post today is at Happy Wordless Wednesday!

  16. totally agreed on all of this.


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