Friday, December 20, 2013

Don't Have a Miserable Christmas. Please

It is that time of year which some people - quite a few it seems - don't quite get into the Christmas Spirit. One wishes they could. The Taverner especially. But those people are likely to take the good wishes as 'sanctimonious' and 'troll' me about it ,so I add 'Please' to the title line.

For some others it will be a torrid time. Others, a lonely one. It is a testing time ! A glass of cheer awaits all in this Tavern, and some good advices often can be found between the customers.

The nearest City to the Tavern is Hobart. Apart from the Christmas Carols in the park - hailed as the 'best in Oz' by the locals who will claim anything here as 'best', including Slut-Walks and marches for abortion, gay rights and 'equal marriage' for perverts - the dismalness of our Christmas decorations are a scandal. I know we are 15000 kms from the North Pole but the combined efforts of the Feminists, Socialists and Greens here stymie even a Christmas Tree. No such public display has graced our little town for years.

At least a token affirmation can be found at the Midnight Mass at the Catholic Cathedral which is overflowing every year.

We have some nice people dropping by adding to the conversations and the comments, even being as kind as one can be to the occasional troll who tries to pee on the carpets. After only six months since I took over and installed the Grail in the Crypt, fitted new pumps, opened the restaurant and music room and establishing rooms for our overseas visitors, we have attracted several fine people from the 'Manosphere' and several more from an Obscure source of Nourishment who comment frequently. And one or two trolls. You know the place is on the map when the trolls appear. We pray for them.

What a sanctimonious Taverner !!! Hahahaha. How dare we pray. !

Carolyn and Michael from Mercatornet scattered some useful spirit around the Tavern like fairy dust today. And 'Polly' gave some sweet yet practical talking-to to a frustrated would-be escapee from his mum's idea of Christmas.

As many people understand, the barman says little usually, leaving the customers' conversations, often in full, to raise points and issue. I do add my view from time to time. The views, points and issues raised below are amongst them.

So we will start with 'Polly' the agony aunt. A chap wrote to her.....

"She's a sweet woman, but every time the holidays creep near, she starts in as the Cruise Director of a massive guilt trip. Why don't I (and my partner) stay with them for Christmas? "We have plenty of room! I'd love to see MY ONLY SON this Christmas. We can have Christmas Morning Together!!!" (Not exactly appealing. I'm coming into my late thirties and don't have children of my own.) This is a double squeeze as my birthday falls a mere two days after Our Good Lord Baby Jesus's (with whom she has a very, very close personal relationship).

It's not like I'm leaving her in a lonesome empty nest. Her husband has three grown children, all of whom have families of their own (my how the ChristFolk take that 'fruitful and multiply' line to heart). Most of them live close by, and she's surrounded with scores of kids and grandkids. The dinner is the long table of adults with two card tables full of rugrats, huge turkey with all the trimmings, massive tree, choir music; it's a dozens of prayers and invocations kind of holiday. It's a postcard Christmas, and I'm grateful that she has it. It's what she likes, and what she wants."
Sometimes an agony aunt can be understanding, but her skill lies in 'tough love'. 

What you do at Christmas is definitely your personal choice. I understand why your mom's Norman Rockwell charade feels like a living nightmare for you and your partner. I can also understand not wanting to be pressured about marriage and kids, not wanting to pray and revel in the joy of Jesus's birthday. I get that it's asinine that you and your long-term lady would be consigned to different bedrooms. I understand the guilt and the defensiveness and anger that arise from this yearly showdown. 
And yes, there's something depressing about being asked to assume this compliant, child-like role, to become one of a mob of Christians at a big table, nodding and yes-yesing and passing the gravy with a lot of people you don't care about and can barely even tolerate. 

But if you can ....
simply step back  
....and accept that you're two different people, with different quirks and beliefs and stubborn notions, if you can swallow her ridiculous rules and tolerate her tribe's idiotic lectures without feeling like your psyche is being violated and injured, if you can grasp that she wants a SYMBOLIC CHILD of hers to be there for the whole routine, for every prayer and invocation and celebratory breakfast and chaotic present-unwrapping, to demonstrate that she is loved and appreciated as a mother by at least one of her kids, then you should rise to the occasion and give your mother what she wants. 
You should do it because your mother isn't battling you over your choices, day after day. She's not telling you, day after day, that you're doing it wrong. She wants you to get married and have kids, which makes her exactly like 99% of the mothers out there. Her wanting that doesn't make her particularly awful. If parenting brought her immense happiness, she naturally wants the same thing for you, as repetitive and closed minded as that might be. 

Your mother doesn't fight with you all the time. Her primary battleground is Christmas. She wants this one thing from you. She wants it to an irrational extent. It makes her weepy and enraged. She wants you and your partner there, pretending that you fit right in. She wants you to pretend that you are a good Christian son. She knows that you aren't, but for 48 to 72 hours she wants you to pretend that you are. 
Now, some people will tell you, "It's enough that you go and make an appearance." But that isn't the same thing. She wants you to stay under her roof, for emotional reasons. Do you know how it must feel, to be cooking and cleaning for your husband's kids and grandkids, when only one of your kids will even hang out at all, and he's only around for a few hours before he disappears? I'm not trying to give you shit, I'm just trying to make you see how lonely this holiday spectacular actually feels for her. You say you're grateful that she gets her postcard Christmas. But she doesn't really get that. It's only a postcard Christmas if her own kids are there, trust me.
I know this is about Mums at Christmas but don't forget Dad.

Don't forget that Dad has to live with Battleground Mum all year.
Personally, I think you should give your mother exactly what she wants. Arrive on the night of the 23rd and stay until the evening of the 25th, then flee to a hotel room. I would push to stay in the same room as your partner, but I wouldn't make a stink about it if she refuses.

Nicely said. The 'Sacrifice' is small. The rewards great. But the opportunity for a pleasant and loving time is all too often thwarted by enmities saved up all year.

You can read more of Polly's sound advice at.....

You might even find some references to Fathers.

Even husbands.

Whoops, she did refer to dad, tangentially. You had to look out for it. He was there, out of sight when she said... "She's not telling you, day after day, that you're doing it wrong". Yep. That's his lot !

Now we have  Carolyn and Michael :
 Earlier this week the Huffington Post published a piece entitled "Top 10 Tips for Surviving and Thriving Over the Holidays Without Relatives or a Partner".  
They range from getting together with other waifs and strays or volunteering at a soup kitchen, to spring cleaning your home, having a private movie marathon or going away on vacation. Then there's the ultimate holiday filler - just keep on working, let others take their holidays, earn some money, and if they don't actually want you at work, do something to add to your CV at home!

The message is that it's not such a bad thing to be alone, or relatively so, when most people are enjoying family and fellowship. You can be happy doing your own thing. 
Christmas is prime family time and a Pew survey out yesterday suggests that  
86 percent of Americans intend to get together with family or friends on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, just as 91 percent did in their childhood.  
The same proportion will also give presents and almost as many will put up a Christmas tree. In other words, people are clinging to the tradition of togetherness, even if a Christmas tree is as far as many will get towards embracing the reason for the season. 
So, while it's true that more and more people are living alone - and not just elderly folks - it's a deep human instinct to want to celebrate a high day or holy day with loved ones at least once a year, and we should do our utmost to keep that custom alive. If our family is strong we will be able to invite the socially isolated to join us for the feast.  
Let them feel the love!
They also make some fine recommendations for Christmas Stories.
Christmas stocking: 10 great stories of the season. A selection of tales to inspire, charm and amuse. Michael Cook and Carolyn Moynihan - See more at: 
The Gift of the Magi (1905) O. Henry   
A poor, young, working-class couple who pay eight dollars of their $20-a-week income on rent for a run-down flat want to give each other the best Christmas present their money won’t buy. Each hits on a way to do it that involves the sacrifice of their most treasured possession, but they do it joyfully. O. Henry compares their gifts to those of the Wise Men, who, in bringing their greatest treasures to the newborn Christ, “invented the art of giving Christmas presents”. A twist in the story makes the young couple’s wisdom look like foolishness, but the author begs to differ. A short but touching parable about true love.

Papa Panov’s Special Christmas
Leo Tolstoy
A Russian village on a freezing Christmas Eve, a lonely old man with nothing but his coffee pot and Bible to console him, a dream, a promise, a day of kindness to strangers and a wonderful reward – these are the familiar elements of a classic children’s story which is no less effective for being completely predictable. It is thought to have been written by a Frenchman, Ruben Saillens (1855 to 1942) - or he may have been recording a folk tale. Tolstoy translated the story from French to Russian and reshaped it considerably. It seems the perfect story for a parent or older sibling to read to a younger child at Christmas

The Holy Night
Selma Lagerlof (1858-1940)  
This short story by Swedish writer Selma Lagerlöf (the first female writer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature) is set outside Bethlehem on the night of the Nativity. A man goes from hut to hut on the plain looking for live coals to kindle a fire for his wife and newborn child, and finally comes across a shepherd sitting by a fire. The shepherd is a hard-hearted fellow but a series of strange events attending the visitor make him afraid to deny his request. He then follows him back to the cave where the mother and child have the barest shelter – and his heart begins to soften… Something for children, and all those who are children at heart. –

You can follow the link for the other seven yourselves. I have drinks to pour.

Pax Dei Vobiscum

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Ne meias in stragulo aut pueros circummittam.

Our Bouncer is a gentleman of muscle and guile. His patience has limits. He will check you at the door.

The Tavern gets rowdy visitors from time to time. Some are brain dead and some soul dead. They attack customers and the bar staff and piss on the carpets. Those people will not be allowed in anymore. So... Be Nice..