Sunday, December 25, 2011

Learning to love Krismess

For many years of my life, I've hated Christmas and loved it and never been able to reconcile the conflict. I suspect I began hating it when I was old enough to see a greedy nation's celebration of consumerism built on sweatshops abroad and minimum wage labor at home. Then I hated it because it was presented as incompatible things, a religious holiday about a baby, angels, and a star, and a secular holiday about elves, flying reindeer, and trees with lights.

And yet, I still loved A Miracle on 34th Street and It's A Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol. I loved "Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and "Good King Wenceslas" and "The Little Drummer Boy" and "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen". I loved people having traditional dinners, whether they were meat and potatoes, pizza, Chinese food, or tamales. I loved the excitement of people who were excited by the winter holidays.

So I've wrestled with a way to rationalize my love of the best of what Americans call Christmas. I tried thinking of it as Krismas, and the sprit of giving that I celebrated was Kris Kringle. I tried thinking of it as Christmas, and the spirit of giving that I celebrated was the Rebel Jesus. I tried thinking of it as Mithras' Day and the Feast of Sol Invictus and even my own holiday, World Week, when the spirit of giving was simply the best part of every one of us.

But now I've accepted that the midwinter holiday is just a mess. It's Kris's Mess or Christ's Mess or a neopagan's messy notion of Yule or an American Jew's messy notion of Chrismukkah. It isn't purely anything, and that's appropriate. Humans are a mess, and so are our holidays, and that's glorious.

I love this song because it catches that spirit:



Bonus! Five Christmas songs a Pagan probably shouldn’t like… but feels drawn to thanks to the power of a capella.

And: