Archive News: Thanksgiving Wishes and Blessings From The Agent

So, as I’m sure many of you may have guessed, I’ll be off with family tomorrow for Thanksgiving meaning that I won’t have new material for you this week. That said, I do want to share some brief thoughts with you before I head out.

Thanksgiving is notorious among families as the day when, while trying to enjoy our day, someone will often pipe up with some sort of opinion or religious/political view that starts a HUGE argument that puts everyone off the meal. And given the tumultuous and nerve-racking events of the past year, especially in the past few weeks, that tradition not only seems much more likely to happen but seems likely to be more heated than usual. And that’s an even bigger problem for those who already don’t feel welcome in their own families (seriously, who’s the genetic defective that thought it would be a good idea to place Election Day so close to a day of family gatherings ?).

I feel that’s part of the reason the recent ‘Friendsgiving’ trend has gotten so big; I already know a lot of people who are much closer to their friends than their blood relations. Hell, even I refer to one of my best friends as ‘my little sister.’

But, in regards to the topic of uncomfortable conversations at dinner this year, I want to urge you to not diffuse or distract from those dialogs. Instead, encourage civil discussion on the topic. Encourage free-thinking from all parties involved (that means you as well) and try to clear the air. Turn the heated debate into a friendly problem-solving session.

And just to be clear, I’m not saying you should LOOK to start something. But, if something comes up, be the one to defend yourself IN A CIVIL MANNER and try to make peace while working out your differences.

Say what you will about this year, but everything that has happened so far has made for fertile grounds for a new golden age of pride, discourse, and activism. In other words, this could be a world where people like me who thrive on civil debate and discussion can be at our best. Go out, be proud, say your peace with grace, and stuff your face in joy and self-respect.

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Return of the Crappy Carols: Three More Terrible Christmas Songs

Last year, I gave you a short list of songs attached to the Christmas season that are guaranteed to kill my holiday spirit. However, if you thought that was all I had, prepare yourselves for another unfortunate lump of coal in your stocking. I have three more tinsel covered turds to ruin the mood.

Honestly, I’m not trying to ruin the holiday for anyone. But, if I can reach at least one musician and convince them to not pump out dreck like this, than that makes Christmas that much more merry for all of us. That said, let’s begin.

The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late) – Alvin and The Chipmunks

Good lord, I hate The Chipmunks. I hated them before it was cool to hate them. Hell, I hated them before it was cool to LIKE them.

It’s not hard to understand why I despise them so deeply. With their halfhearted covers of classic pop tunes sped up to a dog whistle-like tone, they’re the unholy union of Kids Bop and Auto Tune that physically hurts me to listen to. And when I say “physically hurts me”, I mean no exaggeration, stomach-souring, eye-twitching, muscle-spasm-inducing pain.

All of these problems are on display in this song. In fact, this one is made all the worse by being an original song as opposed to a cover; showing how terrible the writing is without the guidance of another.

What’s more, it has nothing meaningful to give us. It’s just three ‘kids’ talking about the toys that they want for Christmas with no regard for the joy of giving. Is my life really enriched by a song promoting the already over-hyped commercialism of the holiday? No, of course not.

It’s not the most offensive song – Christmas or otherwise – but it IS one of the few that drive me to such irrational rage that it makes me want to beat some unfortunate soul to death with some other unfortunate soul’s body.

Fairytale Of New York – The Pogues Featuring Kirsty MacColl

This is supposed to be charming?

I really don’t get how this one ever got popular. It’s not happy, it has nothing to do with the values that we attach to Christmas, and it seems to go out of it’s way to be as mean spirited as possible.

This is one of those songs that could never be made today, but the fact that it was made with Christmas in mind while telling its bitter story and using its more ‘colorful’ language is absolutely mind-boggling to me regardless of the time in which it was made.

I really don’t think I need to justify my hate very much here, so I’m not going to comment on it any further. I would say that all you need to do is hear the song for yourself to understand, but that would require you to actually listen to it and I’m not that cruel.

The Christmas Shoes – NewSong

Okay, before we get too deep into this, I want to make it clear that this isn’t about “the Christ in Christmas.” I could sit here and rattle off how practically everything about this holiday was taken from some other celebration and that it has no place in modern Christianity, but pretending that means anything in this context a load of crap and we all know it. The fact is that everyone, regardless of faith, has the right to celebrate whenever, however, and for whatever reason they please as long as it’s not disruptive to the lives of others.

Are we clear?… Good, because this is the worst piece of music to crawl out of the gutters of the Contemporary Christian genre.

I guess this is just one of those songs that you need to say your prayers every night to appreciate, but it just sits wrong with me. I have to imagine that, if I were a devout Christian, I would be highly offended by the idea that The Great I Am would be so cold as to commit the premeditated and painfully slow murder of my mother and tell me to make my last act of love making sure she’s wearing a sweet new pair of Chuck Taylors when she gets to the pearly gates so he can use me to teach some wrinkled, rusted, rural country scrooge the true meaning of Christmas.

It wants so badly to be an uplifting message about love, kindness, and charity, but it just comes off as needlessly dark and depressing. And on a day that should be happy (and is often already depressing enough with the difficulties of shopping), I just don’t want it around me.

Archive News: Thanksgiving Break

Mellow greetings, Field Operatives!

As you may have guessed from the title, I’m taking a week off from writing for Thanksgiving. It’s rare that I get to spend time with my family now that I live so far from them, so I wanted to take what little time I had this week and spend it with some of the people I love.

Naturally, I’ll be back before too long and writing again. See you all soon!

The Agent’s Search for Christmas

Time for heartfelt holiday special… in blog form!
Source: TimeandDate.com

As surprising as I’m sure this will be to some of you, I’m not much of a “Christmas person.” I remember that I used to be, but I’m just not sure what happened to turn me into the Scrooge I am today.

I don’t even really hate the holiday; I guess you could say I’m just disappointed with it. It used to mean so much to me, but know I seem to have lost that child-like glee with it and desperately want to recapture it.

So, if you’re like me and want to re-find what Christmas means to you, I encourage you to follow me as I look at all aspects of the holiday season to see (from my perspective at least) what works, what doesn’t, and how to enjoy ourselves again.

The History

It’s missing a few thousand years, sir.
Source: Balsam Hill

The muddy waters of the story of Christmas have always been a sad point of contention with me.

The fact that Christmas’ origins are such a jambalaya of stories and traditions sort of takes the meaning out of the holiday for me. Each seems to contradict whatever meaning I find.

Logic prevents me from celebrating a Christian Christmas because I know evidence shows that Jesus wasn’t even born in December and that most of the celebration was taken from the ancient roman holiday of Saturnalia. I lack the cultural context to truly appreciate holidays like Hanukkah, Ramadan, or Kwanza. I can’t even embrace the children’s stories we told because I’ve never believed the story of Santa Claus – even when I was young enough to (feel free to judge me accordingly).

As such, I think the answer here is to make a new story – to find a new personal definition for what Christmas is to me. In other words, you define the holiday; the holiday does not define you.

The Gifts

“But I need more stuff!”
Source: Partridge and Pear

This is going to sound absolutely insane, but I hate making out my Christmas wish list.

Seriously; I hate asking people for things or receiving gifts that I feel like I never earned. It makes me feel like I’m mooching off of people when those gifts could be going to someone who probably worked much harder than me and could really use them. Don’t get me wrong, I do appreciate the thought and sentiment. It just makes me feel weird – especially if I know they spent a ridiculous amount of time, effort, and/or money to get it to me.

I also don’t like the idea of setting aside a specific day to do something nice for someone. It’s one of those things that you should be doing every day to make the world a better place. Reserving one day for an act of kindness seems to diminish that notion.

If you want to do something nice for me on a holiday, just take me out to dinner so we can share our mutual love and we can both enjoy ourselves. In fact, don’t even wait for a holiday; just call me and we’ll set up something.

The Music

Now THIS would get me in the holiday spirit.
Source: The L Magazine

This is the pettiest gripe I have ever had about any long-standing tradition. My heart just sinks every time I hear Christmas music play on the radio.

I think it’s because I’ve heard them all before. Think of how many people have covered the songs of past Christmases. 45 different versions of Silent Night is just plain silly. I want to hear what Christmas means to YOU – not what it meant to someone else through the filter of your voice.

Also, what new music (new referring to songs written within the last 40 years, that is) that comes out strikes an ill cord with me. There’s a reason why Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer is often considered among the worst Christmas songs ever made is all I’m saying.

However, there are exceptions. Anyone who follows me on Facebook or Twitter will know that I’ve found some impressive examples of good Christmas music that does just enough different to be interesting without being obnoxious. The gold is there; you just have to pan for a long time to find it.

The “Togetherness”

Judging from the way they’re smiling, I’m 98% percent sure someone spiked the egg nog.
Source: PersonaBubble

Now, don’t get me wrong; I love spending time with friends and the family. After months spent on campus away from everyone, I look forward to it. I just don’t like the idea of dedicating a high holy day to doing it.

Unity,as with the aforementioned charity of gift-giving is one of those things that we should be working on maintaining at all times and, for me at least, setting aside any holiday for it (Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc.) takes away from that by reinforcing the idea that THIS is the day for togetherness. Forcing something like unity defeats it’s purpose; you can’t show how much you care if your being forced to care.

If I could, I’d forgo all of my work, studies, and personal goals just to spend the rest of my life with the people that mean the most to me – not just the days that have been prescribed by history and tradition that we’ve been force-fed since birth. That would be a life well spent by my standards.

Has The Agent Found Christmas?

Actually, in an odd way, I think I have. It was just hard to notice it because I’ve been trying to celebrate it everyday.

The values that Christmas preaches – love, togetherness, charity, and goodwill – are all virtues that we should be practicing everyday. I’ve just realized that I don’t need a special day to reinforce those notions. I was never the Scrooge that I thought I was. I just want to find a better way to celebrate the best qualities of this joyous day.

I’m still going to celebrate this year (any excuse to spend time with the folks and have fun, am I right), but at least now I have a better understanding of my relation to the holiday and hopefully all of you who joined me can say the same.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going go celebrate my new found sense of self by playing in the snow.