*I originally posted this on December 19, 2006. Apparently I’m still a grinch today!
(A note for 2008: Read Barry Webster’s erotic short story “Jingle Balls” in the anthology Lust for Life: Tales of Sex and Love, edited by Claude Lalumière and Elise Moser, if you want a genuinely disturbing take on a Santa Claus fetish.)
Christmas is unbearably cheesy. And so very, very unsexy.
This is going to sound like a rant, but I swear it’s not – more like a genuine expression of complete cultural confusion and resulting disgust.
OK, I’m sure I’m going to offend dozens of people here, but really… Christmas is the central holiday for a religion that the vast majority of people, even the ones who are nominally Christian, don’t actually practice, or to which they pay lip service all year long. That right there is enough to put me off the tinsel and caroling – I really just can’t get into the idea of enthusiastically celebrating the high day of a religion I don’t believe in along with a bunch of other people who don’t either but who are willing to make like they do to keep up appearances. I don’t go to church and I don’t worship a guy on a cross, so why would I do this part? But more importantly, why would they?
The whole thing seems so irrelevant to religion. Or from another perspective, the mass insistence on a Christian celebration obliterates, or renders “other,” the option of anyone not being Christian (or playing at it the way many do). At least a third of my friends are Jewish, and at least another third Buddhist, Pagan, or otherwise non-Christian in their religious beliefs – yet they’re still expected to sit on Santa’s lap at the company Christmas party. Can anyone say “ethnocentric”?
Cue the consumerism, and all of a sudden the whole thing seems utterly drenched in hypocrisy. Why should I go off and spend hundreds of dollars on mass-produced merchandise in order to pay tribute to a god I don’t believe in, by means of lavishing overpriced gifts on people for a day that’s not necessarily personally meaningful to them either? It’s such a mockery.
When it comes to gifts, since unfortunately it comes down to a choice between hurting people’s feelings and sticking to my principles (and how ridiculous is that?), for the last six or seven years, I’ve chosen to hand-make a small item for each of my family members instead of buying things. At least then I can enjoy the creative process of crafting without busting the bank, something I rarely get time to do, and I can put some genuine thought into pleasing them rather than one-upping the next family member in how much money I spent on something. It’s the best way I can come up with to opt out of the cycle without coming off as a complete asshole.
Now, the part I can get into is spending time with friends and family members that I don’t get to see at other times, whether due to distance or time – the actual “holidays” part of the Holidays works for me. But I think we would all deserve an end-of-year break even if Christmas itself didn’t exist. I still find it irritating that we need to justify the human need for rest and quality family/friend time by cloaking it in pseudo-religious belief or red, white and green wrapping paper, but I can feel good about attending the parties and potlucks if I remind myself that Christmas has become a cultural celebration rather than a religious one, and just take the excuse to enjoy the fine company of people I love. This way I can at least somewhat partake in the cultural aspect of the season rather than subscribing to the reasons behind it, though I certainly won’t be the girl at the party wearing the antlers or the jingle-bell earrings.
But when it comes to sex… oy. When I look at the utter excess all around me in terms of decoration and music and so forth, the whole season’s just one massive turn-off. I’ve declared my apartment a Christmas-free zone for a full decade now – I’m attacked by Christmas every time I leave my house, so I need some breathing space when I’m on my own or with a partner.
I can’t stand it when kinky or otherwise sexual people try, somehow, to make the Holidays an occasion to sexualize the kitsch, or kitsch up their sexual practices. Kinky stocking-stuffer wish lists (a paddle with a candy cane on it! nipple clamps painted red and green!), cookie recipes posted on BDSM discussion lists, skimpy Santa outfits at the sex shop – oh god, it’s enough to make me barf up my fruitcake. Even the frickin’ WetSpots, whom I dearly love, have gone Christmas on our asses. Couldn’t they have done a fisting song that doesn’t have anything to do with holiday cheer?
Do we alternative folk – or anyone else for that matter – really have to make our sexual proclivities one more arena into which Rudolph can stick his shiny red nose? If I want to fuck someone senseless or beat them bloody, the last fucking thing I want is to do it to the sound of O Cum All Ye Faithful or have them wear a candy-cane-print corset.
Of course, as always, people are free to do as they please – there are already tons of kinks out there that don’t turn my crank, and their existence doesn’t offend me. Show me someone with a genuine Santa/wrapping paper/red-and-green fetish – a year-round one that’s deep-seated in their psyche and really gets their rocks off! – and I’ll show you a kink I can respect.
But it grosses me right out when I see alternative subcultures buy right into the commercial monolith that is the pseudo-religious consumer-frenzy celebration of Christmas. I have a hard time chalking that up to the standard “your kink is not my kink but your kink is OK.” It feels a lot more like “your kink sold out and you expect me to think it’s cute.”
I mean, is nothing sacred?