Roxanne Tellier – Zombie Christmas

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It’s lurching toward you … the days are ticking by, and you are simultaneously anticipating and dreading the upcoming holiday season. You’re looking forward to seeing friends and family, but wonder how you’ll juggle all you will have to do to get ready for the big day.

The pressure is on to try and create a meaningful experience that will leave everyone, including yourself, with lasting memories of “goodwill towards men,” exemplified by overeating and overspending, but you are already envisioning being exhausted, and what the credit card balances are going to look like in January.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Zombie Christmas.

The modern day Christmas can be traced back through the centuries to pre-Christian times, way back to the Bronze Age and the days of Stonehenge. The winter solstice, the shortest day and the longest night of the year, falls on December 21 or 22, and has always been the most popular time to celebrate the need for less agricultural work, and the expectation of warmer weather to come. The Romans celebrated Saturnalia with the giving of gifts and revelry. stonehenge

Early communities knew that the deep winter months could potentially be a time of famine. The midwinter celebrations often coincided with the slaughter of cattle so that they would not have to be fed, so fresh meat was plentiful.  And the fermented beverages of wine and beer, having been made earlier in the year, would finally be ready for drinking.

saturnalia

santa1By the early-to-mid 4th century, the Christian Church had placed Christmas on December 25. But it wasn’t until the 1920’s, when Coca Cola began leveraging images of Santa Claus in their advertising, that the current consumer frenzy really began.

By the time the baby boomers came along, the commercialization of Christmas was in full swing. Now, the Christmas season is so big that it plays a key role in the economies of many nations, and the earnings from the day after Thanksgiving (Black Friday,) through to Christmas Eve determine the fate of the retail industry.

With all the build-up, fanfare and expectations of the holiday, it’s surprising how few Christmas’ really stick in my mind. I have vague memories of decorating trees, badly wrapping presents, and getting together with family, but overall, it’s a blur.

SophisticatI remember the year that I realized that Christmas presents were to be both given and received. That was a shocker. My mum gave me a whopping $10.00 to spend on the family, and I trotted down to the Army and Navy Store in downtown Edmonton. I bought gifts for everyone on the list; GrandMere and GrandPere, my aunt Noella, my sister and my parents, and still had change jingling in my pocket on the way home. I was proudest of the perfume I’d bought for my mother … Max Factor’s finest, Sophisticat.

portable turntablesOne snowy Christmas Eve in Montreal when I was about 12, my sleep was disturbed around midnight by the sound of music – well, the Man of La Mancha soundtrack, to be precise. I thought I must be dreaming, and went back to sleep. My mother was wrapping our presents, and mine that year was a small record player that I’d been coveting for ages. She couldn’t resist playing one of her own records as she put the finishing touches on the next day’s festivities.

Then there was the year I was 14, and had my first official boyfriend join us for Christmas. I gave him a wristwatch, and he gave me the brand new Rolling Stones album, “Their Satanic Majesties Request,” which I neither wanted nor had expressed any interest in receiving. Still – a present from a boyfriend! I thanked him profusely, and dutifully listened to the record over and over, even though what I’d really wanted was The MonkeesPisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones Ltd” album.  I should have realized right then that my future first husband and I had some basic incompatibilities.

JNS.MallSanta2The best Christmas’ are the ones that center on the very young, or the very old. It’s impossible not to smile at the look of awe on a child’s face as he or she approaches Santa’s throne, grubby list in a damp clenched hand, gathering up the courage to sit on the venerable icon’s knee and whisper their most secret wish. Still believing in Jolly Ol’ Saint Nick, still believing that anything is possible. That innocence is gone so soon.

Somewhere along the way, most of us go from true believers to frantic shoppers, desperate to find that perfect gift for that perfect someone, forgetting what the holiday season should really mean. We become Christmas Zombies, lurching through the malls, snatching up the toys and goodies strewn before us, all part of the multi-billion dollar industry that corporations count on to fatten their bottom line.

As the Grinch realized when he tried to steal Christmas from the Whos of  Whoville, It came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes, or bags! And he puzzled and puzzed, till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! “Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas… perhaps… means a little bit more.”

It’s all about the festive spirit, whether you call that festivity Christmas or Hanukah, the winter solstice or Saturnalia, Festivus or Kwanza. It’s about the smell of holiday baking, the taste of shortbread and the doctored eggnog, the cold raw scent of a Douglas pine, the twinkling porch lights that glow beneath a soft layer of fresh snow, the sound of carols and the snow crunching under your boots. Spending time with family and friends, making happy memories, not of senseless consumerism, but of a feast for the senses.

It doesn’t have to be a Zombie Christmas.

Speaking of Whos and WhoVilles, here’s your Doctor Who Christmas bonus video:

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Roxanne’s column appears here every Sunday 

Contact us at dbawis@rogers.com

DBAWIS ButtonRoxanne Tellier has been singing since she was 10 months old … no, really. Not like she’s telling anyone else how to live their lives, because she’s not judgmental, and most 10 month olds need a little more time to figure out how to hold a microphone. She has also been a vocalist with many acts, including Tangents, Lady, Performer, Mambo Jimi, and Delta Tango. In 2013 she co-hosted Bob Segarini’s podcast, The Bobcast, and, along with Bobert, will continue to seek out and destroy the people who cancelled ‘Bunheads’.

The Bobcast

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