Monday, December 25, 2006

Happy Christmas

Mrs. W and I are slow to arise this morning. Yesterday we made a turkey dinner. Thanks to two very expensive organic, free-range turkeys purchased from our butcher shop in the last month, along with a lot of homemade sausage in the 10 months we've lived in Highgate, I'm now on a first-name basis with the butcher. After dinner, we took a long nap, then went to midnight mass, meeting the folks from the Polish-language mass as they came out the door. I believe there were at least a half-dozen priests, many of whom I've never heard say mass, on the altar. The monastery attached to the church has a small community of Passionists living in it. Thus we were rather late to bed, especially since Mrs. W wanted to call her family while extended members were all gathered in one place for Christmas Eve. Today we'll live like ex-pats without family: Go on a Dickens walk with London Walks and have dinner at some place run by a non-Christian.

Now to an issue I've been wanting to bring up for some time: Is Christmas more commercial here? As Rev. Lovejoy might say, "Short answer yes with an if, long answer no with a but." The advertisements seemed to start later and sustained less intensity. The Guardian noted in an editorial "in praise of Thanksgiving," written by somebody who hadn't spent much time in America during November or December, that
Thanksgiving also fulfils an even more valuable function. It acts as a dam that keeps Christmas in its place.
British retail's compulsion to start Christmas in September barely exists in America - because the cultural importance of Thanksgiving confines Christmas mania to a single month.

Now, I will say to American readers, after you stop giggling, newspaper editorialists are allowed to be wrong. So are bloggers, I guess. It may be that since I don't spend any time in a central business district, unlike Mrs. Werbenmanjensen, I seldom set foot in major retailers and therefore was rather sheltered from the decorations and music that can tire the mind by the time Dec. 25 rolls around.

One thing we have noted, and it was Mrs. Werbenmanjensen who brought it up first, is a lot more advertisements urging people to get their hair/shoes/clothes/nails "just right" for their holiday parties. We were invited to only one. Mrs. W's firm is American, and therefore doesn't have a Christmas party (although it throws one hell of a summer party--pagans!), so our company Christmas party was last night's turkey. It looks this morning like nobody tried to photocopy any body parts, so I won't have to discipline any of the workers.

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Blogger Schmutz said...

The Other Person Who Lives Here and I want to wish you and all your readers a Very Merry Christmas.
Re: early Christmas advertising: I noticed Christmas advertising in London when we were there before Halloween. In the US, Halloween has become so big that Christmas seems to be delayed somewhat (with the exception of Hallmark and similar stores). In general, I think it's a good trend.

1:04 PM  
Blogger Middle Kid said...

I went into a store on Saturday (Christmas Eve's Eve) and saw Valentine's Day decorations up already. I think I did see quite a few Christmas decorations up around Halloween. They were kind of in the background, though.

Merry Christmas, everyone!!

3:35 PM  
Blogger oldest kid said...

Here (in the US) there seems to be a lot of concern on the part of some about the "war" on Christmas. I work with someone who gets mad if you say "happy holidays" because she thinks you're dissing Christmas! But, there are others who get offended if you say Merry Christmas to them, as in another person I work with who told someone it would behoove her to remember he was Jewish.

So Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays!

4:14 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Werbenmanjensen said...

I have to say, in this country, they still call them Christmas parties and you get funny looks if you call them holiday parties. At least I did. And people will wish you a happy Christmas and New Year, and I guiltily enjoy it. I was telling Smitty, wouldn't it be nice if we just KNEW what to say to each other at this time of year?

And OK, I think these co-workers of yours need to lighten up. Both of them are totally Scrooging out! Just be happy someone is wishing you well, for crying out loud!

7:01 PM  

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