O’Reilly


bad_santa

There is a war for Christmas. No, not WTF but a War For Christmas. It is being threatened each and every single day. Year after year. And it is getting worse. Much worse. It is time to take Christmas back. It’s time to join the War For Christmas.

No, I am not talking about Bill O’Effing-Reilly. This is NOT a call to join Bill and his War On Christmas. Sorry Bill, you’re a stupid prick and saying anything positive about anything remotely associated with you will never happen on this blog. This is a war against your war. You like War On Terror? I like War For Peace. Yours was a War In Error. So this is my war. My war against your pathetic (again) misinformed half-arsed stupidity-induced right-wing-nut fake-Christian war. This is my War For Christmas. I want it back. And you have no choice. I was right back when we fought over the War On Terror and I am right again this time. So suck it up baby.

I like Christmas. I don’t like Xmas. Looks crap and sounds crap. Even though it comes from the Greek way of spelling Christ – Χριστός. It’s all Greek to me. I like good old Christmas.

Christmas – Christ’s mass… Not about presents and crap. It’s about mass. Getting together. Sharing a bond. Being the family we are meant to be. It’s about Christ. And it is about celebrating our Pagan heritage.

Huh?

Come on, Christmas isn’t even His birthday. In fact, we don’t really know when He was really born.

Maybe you should learn to celebrate Him and what He stands for every day. Make every day a day of Christ. Hum… That will mean loving instead of hating. Tolerance instead of war. No thank you. That will not do. It’s just too damn difficult hey? Let’s pick a date and act like we believe for a day.

So why pick the 25th?

Convenience…

Typical of some Christians, they were just too lazy to find the actual facts and just started invading. They liberated the Pagans from their little holiday. A crusade to bring Christ to all Pagans. Almost like when we try to take oil bring democracy to everyone today.

But let’s quickly step back to Bill’s Big Bitch – his (fake) War On Christmas…

The “controversy” is about people bitching about others (read governments, media, retailers, advertising and “other people like liberal-socialist-radicals”) not acknowledging the Christmas holiday. They bitch because people call it the Holiday Season or Festive Season instead of Christmas. It somehow takes away from Christian holiday… It’s mostly an American thing. Thank God for America yet again fighting on the side of the right and righteous. (Rolling my eyes…) Oh, a few people in Canada and the UK also bitches but that is more because they are Bill’s Bitches.

Sometimes they even bitch because people buy so much crap during this “holiday season”. The economy trumping Christianity’s religious celebration. But that is really fake. In so many ways.

On a minor religious point… Why the heck do you want to celebrate the birth of Jesus in the first place? I just don’t get that. You celebrate the fact that God had to send His own Son down because you messed up so badly and sinned so much that He had to offer His own Son up just to save your sorry arse? Yeah… be real proud people. You should feel ashamed by the fact that He had to do this in the first place. He went to the cross because you messed up big time. No – BIG TIME. Rather celebrate when He had to leave because that was the single act that saved your sorry soul.

Anyway… This isn’t meant to be a sermon. (But did you hear my voice booming from the pulpit? And the choir singing in the background? Damn, I heard my voice vibrate like those Southern Ministers! Hallelujah! Now cough up and fill those collection boxes. I need a guitar for Christmas…)

Look, I don’t give a damn whether calling it Christmas offends a non-Christian. I’m not too PC in that way. Grow up and grow a pair. Bloody hell, so many of our week days are named after Pagan gods and celebrations. Tolerances means letting people celebrate their religious holidays. I like it. More presents and more food to eat. And, most importantly, more days to party with my mates who are Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist (and all other variations.) Party, party, party! Ha! The reason why I don’t like atheists is because they don’t have special party days. I’m easy that way – Call a party and I’m there. It’s called a free lunch. Who said we don’t have any?

Okay… Back to my rant.

It is a historical fact (ooh, I like facts…) that many of the “symbols” of  Christmas were taken from non-Christian traditions that pre-date the birth of Jesus – whenever that might have been. Decorating trees? Who did that? The wise men? And who kissed who under the mistletoe back in the manger? What? Were the shepherds gay? Holly wreaths? Was that one of the presents? And was it so cold they had to chuck a few more yule logs on the fire? Bet you that didn’t work too well. Christmas only recently “found” these WMD’s – Wreaths, Mistletoe & Decorations.

The season for a reason… Really…

The reason is to party and to get a guitar… Hum… I mean presents!

Like I said – Jesus wasn’t born on 25 December. Live with it. And I’ll get back to that just now-now. (A South African way of saying just now.)

I do have one major issue with those against calling it Christmas. Some of them also wants to force government to not make it a holiday anymore. Hey buddy… Piss off… Don’t touch the holiday or party. There will be some fisticuffs. African style. Woman! Bring me my spear and shield! Time to circle the ox-wagons. Our party and presents are threatened!

But when did all this crap about the War On Christmas start? The bloody Puritans again!

Yep, good old grumpy Cromwell wanted to remove all the WMD’s. Not a tree in sight. I think it was just because he didn’t get kissed under the mistletoe… And you might notice that the decorations stayed. And so did the presents, thank God. And this is when all this crap about Christmas started…

Old Cromwell and his grumpy elves struggled with getting the Christmas trees burned and the presents given to the church in monetary form. So guess what they did? Man, they were brilliant. They did the classic Trojan trick. They took it over from the inside. They just picked this date to celebrate  the birth of Christ. This was when all the crap started. When Puritans were less than pure with the truth. Because we know Jesus wasn’t born on the 25th. But who cares? It’s not as if the churches haven’t pulled a few tricks for dough before right? And they still keep on doing it today…

But wait – how about those trees hey? You know where this comes from? “For the customs of the peoples are false: a tree from the forest is cut down, and worked with an ax by the hands of an artisan. People deck it with silver and gold they fasten it with hammer and nails so that it cannot move.” Hey? Jeremiah 10:3-4. Damn. I guess that’s why we went with a fake plastic tree. Biblical speaking I am not sinning…

Actually, the early Protestant bitched a lot about Christmas. During the various Protestant reformations (more regular than the a Meryl Streep Oscar nomination), these Paganizing elements were a source of controversy. Some sects, I mean Puritans, rejected Christmas as an entirely Pagan holiday. Others rejected certain aspects of Christmas as Paganizing, but wanted to retain the “essence” of the holiday as a celebration of the Christ’s birth – even though it wasn’t on this day. It was a bit like the war in Iraq – bitching and fighting about something that never really existed.  But the fighting about Christmas has been going on ever since. And Bill has been bitching ever since.

But I want Christmas back. I want to call it Christmas just to piss people like O’Reilly off. But this whole passing of presents and having a party at the end of the year started way back before they made up a date for Jesus to be born. It started with the winter solstice.

You know the winter solstice? It happens “when the Sun’s position in the sky is at its greatest angular distance on the other side of the equatorial plane from the observer”. Actually, I have no clue what that means. And I have read Stephen Hawking a few times…. All I know is that it tends to happens some time between December 20 and December 23 each year in the northern hemisphere. And between June 20 and June 23 in the southern hemisphere. Yeah! Christmas in June in Africa! Take that Bill-O! I get presents twice a year! 

So what about the 25th of December then? Ha! winter solstice was established on the 25th by the Julian Calendar. But quickly banned by the Catholic Church as a Pagan practice. But it was too much of a good thing for them to pass up on a good party I guess. They banned the celebration party of the sun and made one up for the Son. And kept  much of the folklore and traditions of local Pagan festivals. So today, the old festivals such as Jul, Коледа and Karácsony, are still celebrated in many parts of Europe (Pagans, Bill! Pagans!), but the Christian Nativity is now offered as the meaning behind the holiday.

How about that Yule hey? You know that Yule or Yule-tide was a German midwinter festival about a sacrificial feast that was absorbed into Christmas like I do with a meat pie? Or a Yule log…

Actually, it came from a German dude called Odin who used to fly high in the sky on his way to a hunting party. Big beard and everything. He didn’t have any Rudolphs pulling his wagin though. No good for a hunting party. He had an eight-legged horse pulling him across the sky. Oh, and he gave the kids candy if they left some straw, carrots and sugar for his Chernobyl horse. Guess where they used to put it? In their boots next to the fireplace… Now swap that for a pair of old stinky socks hanging in front of the fireplace and you get…

Really, those early Christians were even lazier than the current bunch of Bible-bashers calling themselves the religious wing-nuts.

And how about the fat dude in the red suite?

Father Christmas, the dude I grew up with and who is older than Santa Claus, was first recorded in the 15th century, but was seen as a bit of a party animal who created havoc, got drunk and acted like a stupid wino. Ha! It seems as if some of our family members still celebrate this way – creating havoc, drinking too much and acting like a stupid wino. Some things just never change. The French Père Noëlwas also a bit of a raving and raging drunk; as was the Italian Babbo Natale. But that might just be the Italians being Italian. Wearing funny clothes, getting pissed and making a lot of noise.

The best one comes from La Befana though. She was also a character during Christmas and was the bringer of gifts. Here is the Pagan clincher though. It is said that La Befana set out to bring the baby Jesus gifts, but got lost along the way. I think she was hanging out with old Father Christmas for too long… Too much drinking and partying if you ask me. Now, she brings gifts to all children. I guess she has been trying to suck up for the last 2,000 odd years…

Actually, Father Christmas is so Pagan that even calling him old comes from people bitching about the Church trying to take him away. He is “old” because of the antiquity of the old parties, which its defenders saw as a good old Christian custom that should be kept. So “old Christmas” was given a voice to protest the Church trying to kill him off. And they made him jolly just to piss off the Pope a bit more I guess. The opposite of the stern Pope? A pissed Father Christmas!

But President Bush would be happy to know that the old drunk has different names over in the liberated countries as well. Afghanistan calls him Baba Chaghaloo – my personal favourite because it sounds so funny when you are jolly yourself at Christmas. Baba Chaghaloo sounds like a drink, doesn’t it?

But Iran and Iraq is more in line with America. They both call him Baba Noel. Wonder if they’ve checked for WMD’s there? It might be under the red outfit. Hidden as a false fat stomach. Or under the Christmas tree? Or in that big bag he carries on his back! Quick Bill-O! I found the WMD’s!

I almost forgot another good one. You know that Saint Nicholas was the Christian inspiration for Santa Claus? He is a Greek Christian bishop who lived in the 4th-century. (Actually, the part he comes from is part of Turkey today.) He didn’t drink as much as his other European fictional counterparts, but he gave gifts to the poor. Creepy though as he gave more gifts to young girls… But he had the robe and beard to make him at least look a bit like Santa I guess. Here is the clincher for me. Old Saint Nick is also the patron saint for many diverse groups. Including… Pawnbrokers! For those unwanted presents! (Or thanks to the current economic climate?)

Sadly he is also the patron saint for both dope heads and corrupt bureaucrats. Sorry, I mean of Amsterdam and Moscow…

So now you know a bit more about Christmas. And that is why I want it back!

This is my War For Christmas. More drinking like Father Christmas and acting like a jerk afterwards. More handing out gifts like old Saint Nicholas. More trees from the winter solstice feasts. And more Yule logs from the Germans please. Did I mention the drinking and partying bit already? So it’s drink, trees, mistletoe, drinking, yule logs, trees and more drinking. Just like Father Christmas would like it.

Let’s keep on calling it Christmas. We’ll steal the name just the way they stole the party. But for the real reasons. The original paty time. Drinking and presents and a bit more drinking – and the family hanging out together. That’s authentic. That’s the real deal. 

Piss of Bitching Bill. Your War On Christmas is a joke bigger than you. And Father Christmas is funnier than you. And Odin will whip your backside with his one hand tied to his horse.

I’m taking Christmas back. Now where is my beer and guitar?

Actually, I want Odin back. I want those times back when we can sit around a fire and just be happy with each other. No pressure to shop or entertain or listen to Bill-O. He can have “Merry Christmas”. I just want to use the time to play with the kids in the snow, have some malt wine with my wife, stand around a fire with my friends – share good times and brag about the scars from our bad times. Just us and Odin. Laid back and not worrying about what to buy or what to call it. Call it what you want. Bill-O, you can have it. What you can’t have is the family, the friends, the fun, the love, the peace, the memories or the good times. That is mine. That is ours.

My War For Christmas. It’s not a war to call it Christmas. It’s not a war to celebrate the birth of baby Jesus. It’s not a war for presents. Those are all fake. Stolen from the good times. Stolen to be corrupted by people for their own personal gain. Whether they are trying to sell you the latest Elmo or the newest Jesus.

My War For Christmas. It’s a war for us. It’s a war for ubuntu. It’s a war for peace, love and happiness.

And it is ours. Take it and own it. It’s my present to you. Love and be loved. Reach out and make new friends. Sit back and relax your tired bones. Smile and we will smile with you. Be with each other the way your always hope you could be. This Christmas… Just be what you want to be. Celebrate what you want to celebrate. Just remember to make memories and make peace with yourself and the world around you. Make memories you can believe in. Make you.

Merry Christmas everyone.

africamerrychristmas

______________________________

Note: And this last one is just for Bill-O. One of my favorite Christmas song ever. By The Pogues – Fairytale of New York…

Advertisements

Well, 4th of July just passed. And the celebrations could be seen all around us. Flags flying, parades everywhere and fireworks to scare the cats – and kids. And it made me wonder – what does it mean to be a patriot?

We were sitting outside having a barbeque. American style. Burgers and all. Pretty American on 4th of July. Just us South Africans and an Aussie friend. Anyway… Our backyard neighbors were having their own party. Big family gathering. Even bigger griller. And meat to feed an army. At least a few divisions. And it went on and on. The crowd kept on growing and the noise kept on rising. We didn’t have a problem with it. They were having fun. Good clean fun. (And we loved the fireworks later in the evening – all courtesy of our partying neighbors.) And then we noticed the balloons.

Big balloons. All in the American colors. Red, white and blue. Stars and stripes everywhere. Almost every chair had a few of them tied to the back. Flying in the wind. This new type of flag. My wife and myself looked at each other and laughed. A very typical thing for us – we know each other way too well already! We said it at almost the same time, “I bet you those balloons were made in China!”

She won the right to blog on the “Made in China” joke. I really can’t say no to her. But it made me think of China. Again. And on the meaning of being proud of your country. Being a patriot.

And no. It wasn’t the “Free Tibet” flags that was made in China that made me think of China. It was my recent chats with a few Chinese in China that made me realize they are very proud of their country. Well, most of them anyway. Wherever I went they told me so. How they love their country and how proud they are of how China is developing. And, of course, the Beijing Olympics. For them the Olympics was about the Chinese people and not the Chinese government. A chance for us to meet China and the Chinese people. For them it was about them and their country. And not their government. I know, the Chinese government really secured the Olympics – not the people. But it still made sense. I know how it felt.

I have always loved my country. And my people. But I wasn’t always that proud of my government. The Apartheid government was not a regime to be proud of. Trust me. They weren’t. But I always loved my country. The mountains, the rivers, everything. And I really loved my people. It was an easy call. I loved my country. I loved my people. And I still saw myself as a patriot. I would defend my country and my people. But not my government. They were corrupt. In every sense of the word. If they asked me to go to war I would say no. If they asked me to vote in their rigged elections I wouldn’t. I would not listen to them and I would not support them in anything. But I would defend my country and my people. In my way. By protesting against the Apartheid regime. By speaking out when ever I got the chance. I would defy them. And challenge them. Because I was a patriot.

Over here in America people are asking the patriotism question. Again. And I am not just talking about Obama. Whether him wearing a flag or not makes him more or less patriotic. Like everyone wears that each day. Go do a Google search on the Mac and see how many times he wears one. Being a vet does not give you a free pass. Or at least I don’t think so. But this isn’t about Obama. Maybe only in an indirect way. The questions about him being American and being a patriot triggered some initial thoughts. But it isn’t about him. No, it’s about people who are claiming to be more patriotic than the next.

Supporting the war. That makes you a patriot. Being against gay marriages. That makes you a patriot. Not criticising President Bush. That makes you a patriot. Saying it is okay to hold people without trail and (maybe) torturing them. That makes you a patriot. Being in favour of subsidies for big oil but against universal health care. That makes you a patriot. Being Republican. Being conservative and against liberals. Listening to Rush and Bill. Watching Fox. Pro-flag. Anti-protests. And so on. And so on. It all makes you a patriot.

Or does it?

Were you a patriot if you supported the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII? Or were you a patriot when you tried to speak out against it? Were you a patriot when you supported segregation? Or were you a patriot when you acted against it? Were you a patriot when you lynched blacks and burned crosses and churches all over? Or were you a patriot when you marched against it? Were you a patriot when you supported a war to get rid of weapons of mass destruction? Or were you a patriot when you protested against a war with little evidence to support the claims of the President? Are you a patriot when you support a war no matter what the reasons? Or are you a patriot when you believe you can support the soldiers and still not agree with the war? Are you a patriot when you say other Americans are not American enough because they do not agree with everything you do or say? Or are you a patriot when you say that being an American means celebrating and loving diversity of all kinds – religion, color, languages, political thoughts, food and even stupid bloody movies?

You decide. I am not here to tell you what patriotism means in America. I can only tell you what it means for me as a South African. It means loving my country. Believing in my people. Caring for those around me. Looking after our land and the animals who live there. And speaking out when my government is unjust. Or just plain wrong. They are not my country. They are not my people. They do not stand for what my country stand for. Or at least not what the majority of us want our country to stand for. They are our government. They come and go. The people, the land and the spirit that make us never die. The meaning of being South African never come and go. It is more than the sum of us. It is that intangible meaning of us.

I am a patriotic South African when I disagree with my government when they are wrong. I am a patriot when I speak out against stupid decisions made by my government. I was a patriot when I protested against the government during Apartheid. I am a patriot when I speak out and protest against my government when I believe they are not being true to what we want our country to stand for – freedom, tolerance, equality and celebrating our diversity. And all the other good stuff.

And don’t confuse the patriotism bit with loving it or being proud of it. I love my children. But I am not proud of them when they do something wrong. I still love them. I still care for them. Deeply and without question. No less than before. But I also know I have to remind them of the rules. Our rules. Rules of respect, love and hard work. It does not make me less of a dad just because they need to know when I am disappointed with them. I tell them. But I also tell them I love them no less. I love them. I care for them. But I can’t always be proud of them. But I can be even more proud of them when they make right what they did wrong. That makes me love them even more. When they hold up their hands and say, “Yeah, I was wrong. Sorry dad.”

But driving a car made in Japan? Wearing clothes made in India? Eating food grown in Mexico? Drinking coffee grown in Ethiopia? Buying gas imported from Saudi Arabia? Reading books written by an Englishman? Watching a French movie? Having balloons made in China?

I don’t know. I like it when I see something made in South Africa. But I don’t buy it just because it is made in South Africa. I buy it (or not) because of many reasons – price, quality, taste, smell, functionality etc. Whatever. I buy it when I can. But I won’t buy a SUV just because it was made in South Africa. I’ll buy the less thirsty car made wherever.

A patriot. What is it? You decide. Because you make it. You build your country with every decision you make. The easy decisions and the difficult ones. They all count. There is no end. You build it every day. America is different from what it was a 100 years ago. Every single day you are still working on it. Keeping the good bits alive. And turning it into something new and making it relevant for society today. No end game. It’s not a game. It a journey. With no end destination. And every step counts. Every person count.

Every American count. Every American equals one brick. And you decide how strong you want this structure called America to be. You place your brick. You make it strong or you make it weak. It isn’t easy. And it has never been easy to build this great nation. It wasn’t easy to fight the British for independence. It wasn’t easy to free the slaves. It wasn’t easy to give women voting rights. It wasn’t easy to fight in WWII. It wasn’t easy to end segregation. It wasn’t easy to pull out of Vietnam. But it was the right thing to do.

Are you a patriot? Just wait before you answer. First ask yourself what does it mean to be a patriot? Define it. Look around and ask if this is what your fellow countrymen mean by it? Do you agree with it? What is your America? Happy you got all the info you need? Good. Now answer it. Are you a patriot?

Just don’t forget to look in the mirror when you answer.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to Ma.gnoliaAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine