Yuletide Rant (Just A Tiny One)

Well, that's over. And it was splendid, really. But I can see why the Brits have Boxing Day, a day to recover one's wits; a day to lie belching on the couch whilst watching James Bond and eating left-over Roast Beast and Who-Hash.
Christmas at Rosa's was led up to by a frenzy of home-crafting, everything from felted soap to CD mixes & a Christmas poetry anthology. I still can't tell if the soap is crafty & interesting, or crafty and pathetic, the sort of thing you bring home from summer camp, along with the lanyards, God's Eyes, and macrame owls. It was certainly fun to make, if nothing else, although I felt a little bad foisting off my homemade wares on friends and family. I realized this year just how deeply ingrained it is to want to buy something from a store for people I love on Christmas. In the brilliant essay, 'Xmas and Christmas: A Lost Chapter of Herodotus', C.S. Lewis describes the difference between the cultural holiday called 'Christmas' and the holy day celebrated simultaneously of the same name. I recommend this essay; read it here on: 'the weight of glory', an interesting looking blog around which I'll have a poke later...
Keep Christ in Christmas! A.K.A. Keep Saint in Saint Valentine's Day!
This idea of two different holidays happening on the same day is useful to me, especially when I hear people get all up in arms over keeping 'Christ in Christmas', protesting left and right over the expression, 'Happy Holidays' replacing 'Merry Christmas' in the marketplace. I think these people are confusing their holidays. One is the cultural Christmas, which has to do with feasting, family, gift-giving, and loving our fellow man (for this one time a year), aka 'the holiday spirit'. None of these things are bad, in fact, they're good, and they all have an overlap with the other Christmas, the one that is a religious feast day, celebrating the birth of Christ. But there is nothing intrinsically 'holy' about the first holiday, except as far as all acts of goodwill and charity reflect the One in Whom all goodwill and charity have their origin. And you can easily celebrate both, taking the good things from the former and applying them to the latter. But to be railing against those blasphemers at Stuff Mart for saying Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas is just a little misguided. I'd like to see that same energy go towards campaigning against slave trafficking, global poverty and eugenics. I am glad to separate the two holidays, I say let the Saturnalians have their day, and I'll have mine.
(But in case anyone wants to felt their own soap, I've included a link here.)


Mum said...

Ok, so actually I am totally mystified by the felted soap? Even though you explained it to me, I still have no idea how you got that bar of soap inside the little wool bag. Anyway.......I like it and plan to use it down to the last nubbin. Love the resourcefulness and your wonderful "thingness".

rosa said...

three words:

Lucy said...

Now I've got distracted . . . soap in a little woollen bag? What for?

. . . ! . . . Soap aside . . . I'm not sure what I think about separating the two ideas.

At first, it made sense. Then I realised I can't get warmed up about a Christmas that isn't about Christmas. It would be like saying - let's have a festive Tuesday. Everyone might be pleased to have a day off work - but what would they be celebrating? How could you celebrate nothing?

None the less, I do think it's good to take the posessive sting out of the festival and this approach helps do that.

Hope you are all well and that 2009 will be brilliant - it will certainly be different!


Anonymous said...

Okay first of all: the soap is hilarious and worth it's existence just for that reason alone.

Second: For me it's not necessary to separate the two, just acknowledge the different elements. The community/warmth&light in winter/gifts/evergreen/etc is the part of Christmas that is accessible to everyone and, as Rosa says, not bad. It may even be intrinsically holy since the act of loving others (even once a year) is akin to loving God ("...and the second is like the first..."). The pagans may have had the season first, but knowing Christ fulfills the needs of a spiritual midwinter the way cookies and evergreens and candles fulfill the earthly one. God writes a metaphor into the bones of the earth then fulfills the literal and the figurative aspect of it.

Geez, that was so long I should have put it on my own blog!


rosa said...

Thanks, Eleven. I like that bit about God writing metaphors into the bones of the earth.

And Lucy, I was thinking of separating the two holidays in order to keep sane about the holiday that's most important to me, the birth of Christ one. Otherwise I get all bent out of shape-"Why buy all these horrible pieces of cheap plastic crappy toys made by slave labour in order to celebrate the Incarnation of God?" But when I think, "oh, right. That's the other Christmas, that's their problem." Then it's not so bad. And with the soap, it's more like the soap is wearing a skin of felt. The wool adheres (felts) itself to the soap, with all those little interlocking fibers. When the soap is all used up, it ends up being a little bag. I think most people use it as a shower wall scrubber.
G really likes ours. I've heard of them being sold for up to ten dollars, which I think is a little silly.

Anonymous said...

I've heard a fairly believable argument that quantities of cheap-plastic-slave-labor-toys devalue even the secular holiday. I guess it's hard to derive meaning out of crap even without Jesus.

Mr. Eleven is suggesting that maybe there are really 3 holidays. The universal midwinteriness, the christian holy feast day, and the commercial exploiting of both for profit, which everybody complains about even while going along with it (...even my dog's gone commercial! Aargh!- Charlie Brown).

My dad has a whole theory about the concessions we make to our culture... but that's another story...

alerts said...
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Read Your Way Through the Garden: Choice Tomes From Garden Literature

  • A Book of Salvias by Betsy Clebsch
  • Botany for Gardeners by Brian Capon
  • Making Bentwood Trellises by Jim Long
  • RHS Encyclopedia of Plants & Flowers
  • Rose Primer: An Organic Approach to Rose Selection & Care by Orin Martin
  • Start With the Soil by Grace Gershuny
  • Sunset Western Garden Book
  • Sunset Western Landscaping Book
  • The Book of Garden Secrets by Patent & Bilderback
  • The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Botany
  • the Gardener's Table: A Guide to Natural Vegetable Growing and Cooking by Richard Merrill & Joe Ortiz
  • The Gardener's Year by Karel Capek
  • The Hutchinson Dictionary of Plant Names: Common & Botanical
  • We Made A Garden by Margaret Fish

lotsa latin: rosa's botanical & etymological ruminations

  • vespertinus: flowers in the evening
  • vernalis:spring
  • veni vidi nates calcalvi: we came, we saw, we kicked butt. This was printed on a T shirt I bought at Abbot's Thrift many years ago. It encircled the NEA symbol. I wish I knew why.
  • superciliaris: shaped like an eyebrow ex: sturnella superciliaris, the White-browed Blackbird
  • rosa-sinensis: species of Hibiscus: Hibiscus rosa-sinensis. Lit. Rosa of China, so named by British plant hunters.
  • placentiformis: shaped like a cake ex: discocactus placentiformis
  • nudiflorus: flowers before leaves show ex: flowering quince, magnolia
  • nivalis: growing in or near snow ex: galanthus nivalis (common snowdrop)
  • muralis: growing on walls
  • mirabilis: marvellous, wonderful
  • formosa: beautiful ex: dicentra formosa, a.k.a.western bleeding heart/dutchman's breeches/lady in a bath
  • carpe vitam: get a life
  • Carolus Linnaeus: Latinized name of Carl von Linne (1707-1778), Swedish naturalist considered the father of plant taxonomy. Whatta guy.