Thursday, December 17, 2009

So this is Christmas?

I love Christmas. I really do. My love for it has nothing to do with a belief in virgin birth or any other supernatural happenings. I think it stems mostly from the nostalgia of truly happen times when I was younger during the Christmas season. I also love the promotion of things like love, and unselfishness, and giving, and peace (though why it is we have to have a holiday to promote these things rather than holding them as values year round is deeply troubling). I think it's a genuine love and one I'm mostly not embarrassed to say I have, despite my agnosticism and my issues with consumerism (see T's post below).

But I must admit, I think some of those butterflies I get in my stomach during the holidays are the creation of the profit-industry. I do like going into stores and feeling the hustle and bustle of shopping. I love getting things and I love seeing people get happy when I give them things. I can't separate my feelings about Christmas from the multitude of sentimental movies and songs out there in the world.

There are, obviously, things I hate about Christmas consumer culture: I hate that most people around the world are getting nothing while a few of us are getting loads of stuff we don't need. I hate when my loved ones spend more than they can afford to make me happy. But knowing these things doesn't stop me from also finding pleasure in the whole thing. A lot of pleasure.

I happen to love loving Christmas. But what do we do when the things we love are so deeply tainted by capital and inequality? I'm not just talking about the little things, like giving to charity or making homemade gifts (both strategies I really love), because those don't erase the major inequalities still at play. They also don't help us resist the devaluing of those basic Christmas values for the other 11 months of the year. They do nothing to challenge the structural basis of inequality and the need for charity in the first place. They continue to place ideas like equality and responsibility and sharing at the level of willing individuals, rather than at the social.

I don't want to be a Scrooge. I love Christmas. But, sometimes, when I step back and look at the whole fiasco from a little broader perspective, and wonder why it is I love certain things so much about it, I can't help but to sigh, "hum bug."

1 comment:

Jenny said...

I understand: I like christmas too a lot,but yeah, there's always a twinge of guilt about being so naive about everything in the world. Also, nice to see you like Paul Krugman, I've come to agree with him on economoics this year too. Even if his capitalist devotedness can be boneheaded at times: