Saturday, November 19, 2011

Stadium of Shite

Shit, from the Old English scitan.  Sometimes in parts of northern England is Shite (pronounced to rhyme with "light") and one wonders if that pronunciation is perhaps a language fossil from a much earlier  time.  It is one of the earthier Anglo-Saxon words in our current lexicon, and perhaps the most socially acceptable.  In fact you could probably get away with it before the nine o'clock BBC watershed, unlike fuck and definitely unlike cunt, which is apparently the last taboo word. 

I mention it because today, November 19th is the Halifax Parade of Lights, the de facto Christmas season opener.  Whenever I hear the expression Parade of Light my brain often transforms it into Parade of Shite, perhaps because of Sunderland FCs home-ground the Stadium of Light which rival Newcastle fans (think Montreal Canadiens - Toronto Maple Leafs for the level of intensity) immediately christened the Stadium of Shite.  Rather like Atlantic Tit-Chiming it's an expression which rather rolls off the tongue and for better or worse almost always comes unbidden to mind.  

Unbidden but perhaps an appropriate mental Spoonerism.  It's November 19th!  Barely mid-November and we're doing Christmas already?  What gives?  At least in the States the Christmas season cannot start until after Thanksgiving (which is next Thursday) and this puts a natural check into the start of proceedings.  Here, with Canadian Thanksgiving so early, there is no such hurdle.  Rememberance Day perhaps; no evergreen before poppies seems reasonable and whilst some stores didn't respect this unwritten rule (or guideline); our local Sobeys has been the full Christmas nightmare for a fortnight now, private houses did.  Now the wreaths have been laid?  Well on the Sunday afterwards (November 13th for the record) I saw at least two houses decked out to the nines, including one with the full-on candy-canes-in-the-front-card-lit-up-bushes-and-trees.

Yup, I don't like Christmas.  OK, to clarify; it's not the holiday as such as the falsity, the anti-genuine, the supposititiousness behind it.  For one day a year, or so it seems, we are told, instructed, expected to, have a good time.  If your family is even slightly dysfunctional (I'm not talking Simpsons here, I'm talking your regular run-of-the-mill dysfunctional family) then you are expected, forced, told (whatever) to do this with people you may not even talk to for the other 364 days of the year.  Yet for one day you have to be all hale-fellow-well-met and transform the usual family bickering into a picture-perfect Normal Rockwell Time cover.  The irony of course being such an image likely never existed anyway, yet here we are trying desperately to recreate something that wasn't there in the first place!

Of course, to get over some of the guilt you may feel over such heretical anti-Christmas feelings, well you can spend your way out of guilt.  An idea so old that even the Catholic church doesn't ask you to do that any more; just you try asking Father Ignatius after midnight mass for an indulgence.  I'm sorry my child, we haven't done that since Martin Luther!  Here was a guy who the Roman Catholic church loved so much they excommunicated him on the basis of his writings but they still said hey, putting a stop to the whole buying your way out of purgatory, not a bad idea that! 

It reminds me a bit of being told to go out and enjoy myself in the snow.  The logic being it's snowing, snow is nice, nice is fun, so if you go out in the snow then you will automatically have fun.  Of course the truth of the matter is you climb into umpteen layers of fleece and go outside and hey presto, I'm cold and wet.  Now what?  Are we having fun yet?  Like Christmas, well I'm here, I've spent tons of money but I'm still not happy.  What did I do wrong?  Nothing.  You can't force anyone to have fun, whether it's snowing or Christmas.  I'll have fun when I'm doing things I enjoy with people I like.  So guess what?  By that definition I can have Christmas nearly every day!  I might not get any free stuff, but I'm smiling and laughing (odd behaviour for a misanthrope I know, but it does happen) with people I genuinely care about.  You can't force such a thing.

So please don't try.  I'll respect your enthusiasm for this holiday, if you'll respect my lack of enthusiasm for same.


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