spideyj: (6yoNani)
So, I've never really celebrated Christmas with my family. We used to occasionally go visit relatives and do the gift thing with them and look at Christmas lights, but that was an occasional thing and we stopped doing that when I was seven or eight years old, I think. I always felt a bit put out in school when asked by our teacher to write letters to Santa or compose a wish list, because they really didn't seem to understand that someone might not celebrate it. When I got older, peers accused me of being 'un-American' for not celebrating.

I say 'not celebrating' but that's not exactly accurate. My family's idea of celebrating is to enjoy the day off from work and school, stay home and enjoy each other's company, say some prayers and maybe read a little bit about Christ from the Bible (yes, Baha'is do occasionally read the Bible, though it's not major scripture for us - we have our own). One of my favorite Christmases was in Botswana, when we got together with some other Baha'i friends for dinner, prayers and reading. It felt very spiritual and intimate, and I really liked that feeling. It was a bit easier there, since they don't commercialize the holiday nearly as much, and giving gifts isn't usually part of how they celebrate. And there were lots of people who didn't celebrate Christmas at all - a lot of my friends were Hindu or Moslem, so Christmas really wasn't a big deal. No one thought it was weird that I didn't celebrate it, because to them it would be obvious that only Christians celebrate Christmas.

Since then, I've only celebrated Christmas with boyfriends, so I have this strange sort of romantic association with the holiday. One of my boyfriends in high school took me with him to buy a tree, then we spent the afternoon smooching and decorating the tree. His mom worked at a Hallmark store, so she had lots of ornaments and Christmas stuff around the house, but she was so sweet and cheerful, you couldn't help but get into the holiday spirit with her around. Her son was similar.

Last year, Brian and I had a lot of conflict over Christmas. Partly it was because there was a lot of stress floating around at his house - worries about money, worries about the coming year (they were starting to anticipate the sale of the house and the move), worries about his stepfather's increasing mental instability, etc. I don't know how many times I heard his mom screaming about how they weren't going to celebrate this year because they just couldn't get into the spirit of it (accompanied by lots of swearing, btw). The actual Christmas, the first I spent with his extended family, was quite nice however, and was a big deal as far as introducing me to the family. His mom kept telling people I was her future daughter-in-law, which was pretty exciting. But I still felt a bit resentful - why should I have to participate in Christmas nonsense, especially since I was dating a non-Christian? It just annoyed me, and we had lots of horrible arguments about it. I really stressed Brian out about it, I'm ashamed to say. (Interestingly, I have similar feelings about weddings - my ex wanted a big traditional Catholic ceremony, the whole nine yards, and I was totally DREADING it. Thank goodness he ditched me, and fortunately Brian has no intention of forcing that upon me. I would throw a fit, since I decided that there was a limit to how much I could compromise, especially when I realized how relieved I was to get out of it.)

This year I've mostly been cheerful about the Christmas thing, trying to enjoy the horrible sappy Christmas music and take the nasty traffic and insane shoppers in stride. I've felt fairly detached about it, and I guess part of it is that I've been distracted by other things and part of it is that I feel more confident that Brian will accept my participation in whatever form is comfortable for me. Being away from his stressed out family has helped, too. I still have resentful moments, however, and I find myself wondering why I'm doing this - shopping for presents, rushing around for this or that holiday event, etc. Today was the worst of it; not terribly surprising, since I spent most of the day doing holiday shopping in the craziness. *sigh*

So if you see me being a little grumpy, please remember that this isn't really my holiday. I'm doing my best to participate with my friends and loved ones in a way that will please them without compromising too much of my own values, but I still feel a bit oppressed by it, at times. I do wish that people here had a perspective more like that of people in Botswana, but I guess we don't have enough religious diversity here to support that.

White Day!

Mar. 14th, 2004 08:08 pm
spideyj: (Default)
I suddenly realized that today is White Day (aka Howaito day). White Day is a holiday celebrated in Japan on March 14, exactly one month after Valentine's Day. On Valentine's Day in Japan, the girls give chocolate to the boys, so White Day is the boys' opportunity to return the favor, by giving gifts and candy to the girls. Something about the reciprocity of this appeals to me. I think part of the reason I've always resented Valentine's Day as practiced here in the US is because most of the expectations are placed on the men - they're supposed to buy flowers and chocolates and gifts, and take their girlfriends or wives out to someplace romantic for dinner or for the weekend or something like that. I want to be romantic, too! I'm the kind of person that likes to shower her beloved with gifts and affection, and I'm not comfortable when it's a one-way thing where I'm passively receiving the tokens of adulation from my admirer.

I also like that it's considered extra romantic for the girls to make the chocolates themselves, usually in heart shaped molds and then decorated with some sort of romantic phrase of some sort (usually in English). This appeals to me because I like to cook, and in my homebody Cancerian* heart, cooking for the ones I love is the height of happiness. Of course, there are disturbing implications to it as well, related to sexual inequality, something I feel strongly about (natch!). But I can be okay with being feminine and subservient once in a while for romantic purposes, I suppose.

From what I've heard, though, Valentine's Day and White Day aren't exactly equal. The girls have to give chocolates to all the boys they know, not just the one they really like. It's called giri-choco (obligation chocolate), and it's a token given to everyone so that nobody feels left out. On White Day, the boys don't generally give gifts to everyone, I don't think, but the guys with girlfriends are in trouble, as it's definitely an opportunity for the girls to ask for expensive gifts like perfume and jewelry.

I think I'll plan on instituting White Day here, but since the guys have already claimed Valentine's Day as their day to be romantic, I'll claim White Day for us girls. (If you're in a same-sex relationship, I suppose you'll just have to agree on who gets which one.) I haven't decided what sorts of romantic gifts should be traditional for the American White Day, but I'm thinking about it. Any suggestions?

*Note: I don't really believe in astrology that much, but this is one aspect of the typical Cancerian personality that really applies to me.

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