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Extra: Skipping Christmas

Becca at I’m Lost in Books kindly asks book bloggers to contribute guest posts for her during the month of December. She will be hosting a Holiday Post Extravanganza which started yesterday with a list of 10 Holiday Gift Ideas for Book Lovers.

Being raised Baptist and enrolled in Catholic boys’ school, I knew the Bible like the back of my hand. The story of Jesus’ birth was a staged tradition in school. Despite all the Christian, religious, and biblical inculcation, I was not converted. I resented the notion that a religious faith makes a person. My parents were first generation Chinese raised in Hong Kong just before Mao defeated Chiang Kai Shek and declared the formation of People’s republic of China. They belonged to the generation that believed in being hard-working and making a better life. Religion was the last thing they deemed necessary in improving the quality of life. Religion, or schools sponsored by the missionaries and religious denominations, however, were the answer to children’s welfare, because they were more respectable schools with good discipline record. Christmas was inevitably a tradition observed in school and celebration stayed within its bound. My parents were indifferent about Christmas, although they would take us out to dinner.

Now Christmas is a time to celebrate family (although they live Hong Kong and I don’t always go visit during this peak travel season) friends. It’s a time to get together, enjoy the company, and eat! My favorite is a pot-luck hosted at a friend’s house where everyone contributes to the feast, which is always an international buffet with samosas, sushi, sesame chickens, and tacos on top of the traditional holiday fares. Over the years I have become scandalized at the collective insanity of Black Friday. Usually, it is associated with a hot new toy or electronics everyone wants. People fear the supply will run out, so an atmosphere of panic buying develops. Now it seems there is no “Big New Thing” and yet people are engaging in the same kind of desperate, driven shopping behavior for ordinary products they can buy any day—like attacking a pellet of cheaply made sandwich maker for $2 each.

The leisure brought about by holidays is best spent on reading and browsing bookstore like City Lights. I don’t have any designated Christmas reading, but would read Christmas carol for fun. I usually read what appeals to me in the pile, picking the novels that book bloggers have passionately recommended to me and that I have saved for the long hours of holidays. This year I’m hoping to read Amber Dermont’s The Starboard Sea and M.L. Stedman’s The Light Between Oceans, which I ended up not reading over my birthday weekend. These are the “cream of the crop” books. I won’t go as far as the Kranks in Skipping Christmas, but I won’t go through the frenzy and hassle myself. As for gifts, I have opted out long time ago. I don’t do gifts and advise friends and family to count me out. I could be spared from the whole madness of elbowing through the stores buying and returning things I have no use for. Food I have plenty and am happy to share, I tell my friends.

2 Responses

  1. I believe completely in what you are saying. So refreshing to see more and more people getting away from the total and absolute commercialism of Christmas, adding yet more waste to our planet. I agree completely. We do presents but nothing major, more things like a book certificate or something useful. Sometimes a good second hand book I know they will like. I wish everyone would think outside the madness that is called Christmas. May you have a great 2013 and I’ll look forward to seeing what you’re reading. I am getting such a book list from bloggers for the library.

  2. Thank you Pam. I wish you joy, happiness, and great readings for the holiday season. Like every child, I was once dreaming of the magic of Christmas, of writing to Santa, of romanticizing his arrival with gifts. As I grew older that innocent part of me has petered out. I’m not a Christian—in fact I don’t belong to any religious faith. I believe if you do celebrate Christmas, you at least have to recognize and celebrate its cause, which is Jesus. Since when have we been reduced to this ugly and absurd consumerism that now has kicked off BEFORE Thanksgiving? It’s all buy, buy, buy, and people who surged into the store on Black Friday look like they were out of their mind. I cherish the gatherings with friends and family during holidays, sipping wine, eating food, and enjoying the company. I do not disapprove of small gifts but will by no means participate in this mindless commercialism.

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