Tag Archives: holiday


Recently, I got yet another email from Adbusters in my inbox. Normally this is merely inconvenient, since I’ve unsubscribed from them at least three times, and delete it. But something about the subject line pulled me in and I opened it to see this:

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I’m livid. A major aim of Adbusters is to educate Americans about when they’re being manipulated by advertising — so important that busting the Ad industry is right in their name. It’s a great goal, and Adbusters does many other great things: they organized Buy Nothing Day, and promote Buy Nothing Christmas.

But here’s the thing: you don’t get to boycott Christmas, and then use the same holiday to fund-raise for yourself.

You don’t get to condemn Santa and then use him to pull in cash (and I’m not even a fan of Santa).

You don’t get to convince me to not spend money, and then ask me for money.

You don’t get to tell me to not spend money specifically on gifts that my family wants, and then ask me to spend money to give them a gift of your product (let’s not pretend that this magazine is anything other than product sold for profit, no different from the book my father-in-law wants or the Cosmo magazine my sister reads).

You don’t get to wish me a “corpo-free holiday” at the end of the email from “everyone at Adbusters”– itself a corporation! Does size alone determine whether a corporation is worthy of my dollars (indeed, worthy of existence) or not? What is the tipping point? Is it measured in dollars or employees? WorldVision is huge and does lots of good; Adbusters maybe tiny, but without integrity.

There is so much bullshit here. Buy Nothing for Christmas, sure, but certainly don’t buy into a manipulative a deceitful Adbusters. At least be honest about what you’re doing, corpo–it’s what you want from Kraft and Phillip Morris.

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on advent, anticipation, and active hope

This year, the first Christmas party to which I was invited will be taking place on December 1st. I informed my husband, enraged. “There was a time when Christian meant anticipation! What happened to living in the already and the not-yet? What happened to the patience of hope?”

He thought I was being unfair. “It’s the culture, love,” he said in his best soothing voice. But I will not be soothed. I go off on how it used to be that Christmas day began the twelve days of festivities, that no parties occurred before Christmas because it was a season of anticipation. Now, if I want to anticipate, I need to begin around Halloween. No wonder the stores put out their stockings when Fall has barely begun.

He attempts to use reason, “It’s not a good reason to want to go back to a tradition just because it’s what we used to do.” Which is true, of course, but not my argument at all. “I’m going to decline on theological grounds.”

Israel knew how to wait. They waited, expectantly, for the New Jerusalem. Even with the knowledge that they may not live to see its coming, they lived in hopeful anticipation.

In advent, I remember that Mary knew about anticipation. I would think every mother does. From the realization of the first missed menstruation until the child is in arms, a mother lives in anticipation of that tiny breath. It’s not a passive waiting, she actively works towards it, feels her body change, increases her food intake. She prepares not only in her body, but also her home, child-proofing and readying. She prepares psychologically. At the birth of her child, she will become a mother, and spend the rest of her life learning to be what she already is, a mother.

So what does it mean to anticipate the birth of a boy who became the man who taught us to pray “Thy Kingdom come”? I would suggest it means living in anticipation, active and excited anticipation, working towards new life and new creation with a patient hope. Perhaps advent teaches us to be patient for 30 days, so that we may be patient for another 30 days, 30 years, 30 generations as we actively work to bring the Kingdom into existence.

Or we could have a Christmas party to start off December. That sounds just as good, right?

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sexist gifts

I’ve been compiling my Christmas list for gifts to craft or buy for loved ones in my life. I flip through gift guides looking for inspiration and ideas, seeing if anything triggers thoughts of someone I know. Most gift guides are sorted by gender, which is not entirely useful. Women’s guides are full of jewelry, clothing, kitchen gadgets, art/craft supplies, and what my aunt calls “smelly stuff”–soaps, lotions and perfumes. Which is mostly fine, except for many men who are cooks, artists, and fashion-forward dressers. I’ll admit to being inspired by women’s gift guides for male friends. More than once.

Gift guides for men, truthfully, are downright insulting. “Smelly stuff” is only acceptable if it’s bacon-scented or beer-infused soap. There is only one kitchen gadget: bottle openers. On walls, on keychains, on sandals. Apparently men must have a half dozen ways to open a beer at any given time. The lack of food prep gifts would make you think that perhaps men weren’t interested in food, but there are plenty of edible options: most of it bacon-flavored, chocolate-covered, beer-infused, or some combination thereof. There are also a lot of games: lego sets, videogames, “silly putty or other slimy substance“, and nostalgic toys from childhood.

Is this an accurate image of men in our culture? This is the portrayal of children. They must be coerced to use soap, they only want to eat fatty or sugary foods, they’re excited about the same games and toys you would give prepubescent boys. (Did you click on the link to bacon-scented soap? From a company called “Perpetual Kid”. All I did was google “bacon soap”, and it came up first.)

The only difference? If you’re romantically involved with him, you’re encouraged to give him massage oil (presumably for you to use on him) and lingerie (for him to use on you).

This isn’t the men I know. And these aren’t the gifts I give. But when blog after blog, magazine upon magazine, gift guides from so many sources echo the same sentiments, I can only assume that this is, at least to some extent, a reality in many gift-exchanges across USAmerica.

I want to urge: don’t believe the media. We often have conversations around unrealistic images of women’s bodies and how those should not be the expectations. How dare we ask that men view us more fully than our media caricatures, when we perpetuate the caricatures of them? Let’s talk about the portrayal of men as stupid, sloppy, and childish, and work to restore their dignity. Which makes a thoughtful Christmas gift carry within it a deeper, better gift: respect.

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