Friday, December 24, 2004

Pride and Fear on Christmas Eve

So this afternoon my mother asked me to go out and pick up a couple items at Extra Foods, because she and my dad were busy still preparing things for tonight, when our family celebration begins. We needed more egg nog (because I had drunk up the rest after lunch with some Baccardi, but it was after noon so it was ok to start), a can of plum tomatoes, and 2L of mineral water. So I ventured out into the snowblinding streets to collect the items and bring them back. Unfortunately the few minutes I had to spend at Extra Foods was really depressing. Instead of the classical Christmas choral music that was playing at our house, I was forced to endure the tinned sound of obnoxious pop holiday crooning. Strike one. Secondly, the mindless suburbanites were out and about collecting their last minute items that are integral to their Christmas celebrations. Important things like 8 2L Pepsis, nachos and tacky magazines and tabloids. The sight of these people horribly frightened me. I never ever want to become some tacky suburbanite, taking my only joy in a cheap domestic beer and football on a Sunday afternoon, or valuing my worth entirely on how nice my car is compared with my neighbors while I raise spoiled selfish brats who are likely smoking meth in Ernest Lindner park. It was a horrifying mix of fear of what one can become, and pride in one's own way of life. I quickly bought the items and hurried home to my family.

As much as I sometimes complain about my family, I really do love them and enjoy the traditions that we have built up. Our keeping of Christmas is a mix of things, my Swedish and German heritage, our love of literature and film, our religious experience, etc. Tonight we begin by going to a Christmas Eve service, then we come home to a Scandinavian-flavoured meal involving flatbread, potatoes, pickled herring, and such, similar to the ones my grandmother in Edmonton would make for the family there before Christmas Eve services. You have to remember that me and Anton love movies, so we've incorporated the viewing of film into our Christmas traditions. After the meal, and a few cups of coffee, we retire to the family room to watch the 1951 version of A Christmas Carol starring the incomparable Alastair Sim. To me, he is the quintessential Scrooge. After that, we generally open one of our gifts, in keeping with my dad's Swedish roots, and then retire to bed "while visions of sugar plums dance in our heads." Well, actually, not really. I'm not even sure what a "sugar plum" is, but either way, it's a good night and one that I look forward to all year. It gives me pride in my family, and pride in who I am, and despite my rantings earlier, I really think Christmas does give me a feeling of what humanity is capable of at least once a year.

8 Comments:

At 5:29 PM, Blogger Ewan said...

Hey, don't forget that even the most cultured of us still love a good beer and some football. But i get your point.

Have a great Christmas, bud.

 
At 6:00 PM, Blogger Anders said...

Yeah, I know. I love beer and hockey. But when that's the highlight of your life...that's what bothers me.

 
At 9:04 PM, Blogger cait said...

To the best of my knowledge, sugar plums are exactly what they sound like they are: sugared plums.

Thoreau once said that the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation--however, I think your take is one that is unfortunately common among the intellectual elite; today, my parents were among the people running about madly for last minute Xmas items (in fact, I'm fairly sure they bought Pepsi). Would you have judged them as harshly? Assumed I was doing meth in the park? At Joel's we talked about how though we categorize and stereotype the people we see, they are all individuals with their own hopes and fears, and their own capacity for feeling and suffering. Yes, perhaps they are the bourgeoisie, but you know what? So are we. We just happen to read Mary Barton and the beat poets and think it somehow makes us better.

 
At 9:07 PM, Blogger cait said...

Sorry; that was very un-Xmas-y. Merry Xmas. God bless. Let's just all be kind to each other in the New Year.

 
At 5:45 PM, Blogger Anders said...

What I said was harsh. Admitted. But my words were less a judgement of them, and more a fear of what I could very easily become, and something that I don't want to.

That Thoreau quote was exactly what I had in mind. And it frightens me to think I could be one of them.

 
At 3:28 PM, Blogger cait said...

At the risk of sounding inflammatory and depressing, I think we already are those people. Look at our materialism; your obsession with getting an Ipod, my obsession with buying as many CDs as possible and getting a six-string bass. What is that if not materialism? Perhaps we think it is less shallow than being excited about a car, but we are all tacky suburbanites to a certain extent. We talk late into the night about the world's ills, but what in the end do we actually do? We drive home in our gas-powered cars to our respective houses in Saskatoon's suburbia with full fridges (okay, mine is full of mustard and rotten carrots, but nonetheless it is full) and warm rooms and real beds and high powered computers. I'm not saying that we are destined to be shallow Yuppies our whole lives, but I do believe that we have to admit that we are those people before we can do anything about becoming something else.

 
At 6:45 PM, Blogger Anders said...

Actually, I kinda always wanted to be a wealthy Yuppie. And live downtown in New York. And drive a BMW. I just don't like tacky suburbanites.

And I know that is a horribly shallow thing to say.

 
At 4:07 AM, Blogger cait said...

Like, that is your deepest desire or a pipe dream? (and why NY? I've seen so many films set in NY that I think it would disappoint me no matter what)

 

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