December is no time of year to be something other than Christian. It can be difficult the rest of the year, too, but the constant barrage of marketing, capped by the ever-popular claims of the War On Christmas, get a little wearing. I’m Pagan, myself, so we celebrate our holiday on Friday and it’s only the weirdness of my son’s school district that means we always seem to have him home on “winter break,” which even I still call Christmas vacation.
It may, on the other hand, be even worse when Christmas specials don’t admit they’re Christmas specials. Oh, I don’t mean things like the Rugrats Hanukkah special. That was legitimately Not About Christmas. I mean things where characters are celebrating Generic Winter Holiday that in nearly every particular feels like Christmas, or the ones where their theology seems to be confusing Jesus and Santa, or any other of the variations where they’re pretending our culture isn’t as completely and totally dominated by Christian tradition as it in fact is.
I wonder how much the “Baby It’s Cold Outside” controversy stems from the fact that we do hear that song an awful lot. Until quite recently, radio stations would rather play it than anything with the words “Jesus” or “God” in it. If you spend a lot of time in the mall at Christmas, which for my sins I have done, there are about a half-dozen songs that you will hear over and over and over again, because they’re popular Christmas songs that have nothing religious about them in any way.
The problem is, as an atheist friend observed to me back in 1994, secular Christmas music tends to suck. I would honestly rather listen to “O Come O Come Emmanuel” or “O Holy Night” or “We Three Kings.” For some reason, “The Little Drummer Boy” seems immune to this phenomenon (the Bowie connection?), but I’m glad I’ve never worked in retail over the holiday season. One more chorus of “Frosty the Snowman” would’ve sent me on a rampage.
I must confess I cannot now think of many examples; mostly, this seems to be a phenomenon of the more fantastic of my kid’s shows, where they’re set in fantasy worlds. Peppa Pig, Pocoyo, and Masha all celebrate Christmas. But there’s a Daniel Tiger episode about “Snowflake Day,” notwithstanding a board book celebrating Christmas. Even weirder is that there was actually a He-Man and She-Ra Christmas special, because of the ’80s taught us anything (other than that cocaine is a hell of a drug), it’s that cash grabs know no season. (This arguably makes less sense than the one for comic strip BC.) I tend to tune these examples out, as they are universally terrible.
Okay, one example, of course, wherein not using Christmas genuinely does make sense. After all, what do they know of Christmas on Kashyyyk? Indeed, to reference the BC problem, exactly how long ago is long ago? Had Jesus yet incarnated? These are issues I really don’t think Lucas was considering much at all when he approved The Star Wars Holiday Special, which I value the frail remnants of my mental health too much to have seen. Life Day. Oh, Life Day.
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