Living Below Your Means
Think you have it bad @ Christmas?

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By whitemiata
December 24, 2001

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Think again.

No seriously I'm not trying to minimize your discomfort at this time of the year when you may feel excluded, might feel 90% of the country is a bunch of hypocrites etc. etc.

But check this out...

I'm Catholic. Born in Italy, dual citizenship (mom's American, dad's Italian). Brought up in Italy for most of my life (moved to the 'States when I was 21). Celebrated a holiday called "Natale" every year.

"Natale" falls on the 25th of December and it's a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Well... from early age my mom taught me that the English word for "Natale" is "Christmas."

So when I moved here I figured I must be one of the people who celebrate Christmas! Who Hoo! Horray! I'm in the Majority! Yippeee! Well... it didn't take long before I started thinking that something was wrong...

For one, as hard as I could look... I could see no Nativity scenes anywhere. Not a one. Ok, so every once in a while the local PBS station would mention that there was a Nativity Scene somewhere 20 miles from me. But the regular news stations seemed to be very interested in "Christmas Lights."

Every night they would showcase a home, and a homeowner who had, according to them "captured the spirit of Christmas" by layering 370,000 light bulbs over their home, including moving reindeer, gnomes, candy canes, stars, angels and who knows what else? Uh... sounds like the "Power Company" holiday to me. But anyways...

The lights, mind you, were very attractive. A strong contrast with the humbleness of Christ's birth, in a manger in the cold, but hey they looked nice. And to be honest... even in Italy I thought it was weird that people would go to mass at Midnight dressed to the nines... you'd think they'd dress humbly... hypocrisy knows no nationality, of course.

The lights were just the beginning. Then came the gifts.

Now, we have gifts at "Natale" too... the fat drunk in red has gained popularity in Italy in recent times, and the decorated trees have been a staple for about a century. But the gifts were clearly something to keep the kids interested. You can't expect a 4-5 year old to truly understand the spirit of Christmas, so it's understandable that to instill the feeling of joy and happiness you use gifts... plus I guess there was some connection with the gifts the wise men brought the baby Jesus (incidentally in Italian they're called "Re Magi" ... which translates as Magi Kings... no mention of them being wise or not over there <grin>... and considering that they got lost and wouldn't have made it if it weren't for the star... I really question all this wisdom <grin> (just kidding, don't get offended, please).

Now, that's not to say that adults didn't exchange gifts. A gift one to each other, something practical... usually a piece of clothing, something simple, no expectations... I mean, heck they're adults... they're supposed to understand the meaning of "Natale", right?

Well... maybe I met the wrong crowd here, but Christmas doesn't seem to match my holiday that much. Everyone wants to buy me stuff. Everyone wants me to buy them stuff.

The stuff is expensive, expensive looking, useless for the most part, or electronic gadgetry I could do without. Oh yeah, and there are expectations too. The girlfriend... she'd love jewelry, she'll probably get jewelry she specifically said that birthdays are for practical stuff, but Christmas gifts, those are supposed to be superfluous, fluffy, luxurious. Everything she's mentioned that she'd like matches one of the 7 deadly sins, for crying out loud...

So my conclusion is that I shouldn't be celebrating Christmas. I don't believe in consumerism. I'm not sure I'm ready to embrace a holiday that seems to celebrate stock symbols, retail and fluff, more than it does the birth of someone.

So starting this year I have removed everything in my home that says "Merry Christmas" and made my own stuff that says "Buon Natale"

The girlfriend won't be disappointed, 'cause that would make for a horrible holiday whatever you call it. But I'm with you. I feel alone, but worse, I feel like they've stolen my holiday and made it their own. And my alone is more like the feeling you have when you're in a room of people you should feel comfortable with but don't, rather than the feeling of alone you have when you're in your own home.

I'm not sure what it feels like to be a Jew or a Muslim or a pagan at Christmas, but I do know what it feels like to be told you celebrate "Christmas" when you identify with none of the values the holiday seems to promote.

Happy Holidays,

and Buon Natale (to those who celebrate that)

Alessandro Di Sciascio

P.S. This is why I like it when people call it "X-Mas" that's what I call the holiday that celebrates Best Buy, Sears, the Power Company, Greed and the other values of the season. Let the sales begin!


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