I’m not one for Christmas, or Chanukah, or winter seasonal holidays in general. I’m not religious, but it seems to me that whatever the meaning people purport to be celebrating is generally not actually celebrated. I don’t think it’s outlandish to suggest that the real meaning of the seasonal holiday is brought to you by Amazon. The Tammany Hall political Maxim “Vote early, vote often”, with slight modification has become the underlying Christmas Carol of the modern era. Buy early, buy often! I don’t like the Christmas lie that some overweight voyeur with magical powers is compiling lists of toys for his workers to make year-round. I can’t imagine these lists arriving until late October at the earliest, are the workers just guessing what to make for the first nine months of the year? It doesn’t make any sense. This lie covers up the actual cost of gifts as well as the hidden environmental costs. The packaging, the shipping, the products, the production, all this leaves a carbon footprint that will not go away during any of our lifetimes, but it’s okay because there’s something magical about lying to ourselves regarding how self-interested humans actually are. Let’s cut down more trees and use more electricity as we raise our middle finger to the planet each and every December. I’m not one for Christmas, or Chanukah, or winter seasonal holidays in general.
Okay my rant is over. My goal here is not to shit on the holiday season, that is just a fortuitous bonus. My goal is to write about an alternative to the current holiday trend. I like to think of this as a Christmas Remix! Let’s reshuffle the deck and see if we can come up with something better.
So, what are we keeping? Not much. Let’s keep the time off of work and school, let’s keep spending time with family and friends. Mariah Carey can stay, maybe something by Bing Crosby, and a few other classics, but new lyrics for sure. That’s it, that’s all we’re keeping.
St. Nick – gone. Tree lights – gone. Bublé – gone. Fruit cake – gone. Stocking – Hmm? Stockings are under consideration.
I have the perfect replacement for Saint Nicholas, someone who I think can appease both the secular and the non-secular alike. Have you ever heard of Saint Bernard of Montjoux?
The guy is the patron saint of rock climbing. Dating back to ancient times there has been a path across the Pennine Alps leading from the Aosta Valley to Switzerland. The path is eight thousand feet above sea level and covered in seven to eight feet of snow at all times with occasional drifts that measure over forty feet. The pass is incredibly dangerous and was regularly used by French and German pilgrims trying to make their way to Rome. Often the journey wound end in death due to exposure or getting wiped out by an avalanche. In 1050 Bernie founded a monastery and hostel to serve and protect travelers in need of escaping the deadly conditions of the voyage at the most susceptible and exposed point. A few years later he opened a second refuge in the same area at about seven thousand feet above sea level.
The monks who accommodated these hostels along what are now known as St. Bernard’s Pass and Little St. Bernard’s Pass dedicated themselves to searching for and rescuing lost travelers or providing a proper burial for the climbers who lost their lives along the way. For those who found themselves in the service of St. Bernard and his associates they were treated as royal guests independent of their beliefs. The Canons of the hostels trained and bred large herding dogs to assist in the search and rescue of lost travelers, these dogs would come to be known as St. Bernards.
“You will find something more in woods than in books. Trees and stones will teach you that which you can never learn from masters.” – St. Bernard
I can absolutely get behind this guy for the Christmas remix.
The claymation stories with St. Bernards saving mountain climbers in the alps could easily replace Rudolph and friends. If you want to keep Yukon Cornelius, Hermy the Misfit, and Bumble as a compromise, then let’s do it. I’m reasonable, and most requests are well-intended.
Chopping down Christmas trees has to go. I offer in place of that antiquated oxygen killer the prospect of planting new trees annually. You can visit your section of a “family forest” each year as you go to plant a new tree. You want to throw some biodegradable garland on the branches? Have at it. I’m sure the birds would love adding some new flare to their nests.
Gift giving/receiving will be hard for most people to do away with, so let’s figure out a compromise. Ebooks, handmade items, and even secondhand toys would all be acceptable in the remix. If you are going to buy new, stick with eco-friendly companies, or donate an equal amount to offset the unseen costs of single use materials. But ultimately giving your time would be my highest recommendation. Homeless shelters, soup kitchens, animal shelters, food banks, these are the places where giving goes beyond just buying gifts for people who already have everything. You don’t need to be a Saint from the Aosta Valley to save people, you don’t need to be an imaginary rosy cheeked asshole in a red suit to make an impact on someone else’s life.
In the remix there should be intention in the notion of giving which coalesces with the custodianship endowed upon us all!
- Anything you’d like to see added or subtracted from the holidays? Feel free to chime in!
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