Monday, December 20, 2010

The most wonderful time of the year

The holidays are hard for Jews. But we are not alone!

The holidays are also hard for children, who have to gaze, pained, out the window of a room stuck in 1970s, in a sweater and haircut from the same decade.

Schedules, routines and rules can be thrown off at holiday time, which can lead to more behavioral challenges and stress for everyone. Problems relating to feeding, toilet training, tantrums and discipline can worsen and become harder to handle when families are caught up in the seasonal frenzy. [...]
Children can struggle with the transitions from school to vacation and back to school. Holiday travel and house guests can lead to disrupted sleep. And even happy activities like unwrapping gifts can lead to sibling rivalries or disappointment. 
But the holidays are hardest of all for Christians, who have to suffer indignities like the expression, "the holidays."
Christmas is hard for everyone. But it’s particularly hard for people who actually believe in it. In a sense, of course, there’s no better time to be a Christian than the first 25 days of December. But this is also the season when American Christians can feel most embattled. Their piety is overshadowed by materialist ticky-tack. Their great feast is compromised by Christmukkwanzaa multiculturalism. 


M.S. said...

And does this person think that non-Christians *really* appreciate being drug into this mess and made into an argument?

The greatest indignity is being forced year after year to sing or play "the dreidel song" amidst traditional Christmas songs at--for children-- a "Holiday" concert. Because that's what inclusiveness is.

Seriously Christians you can have your dang holiday just stop with that song!

M.S. said...

And of course NOW i read who the author is of that piece. nevermind.

PG said...

I was seriously disturbed by seeing that Douthat piece printed in today's Jakarta Globe. His whining about how much Christians wish that non-Christians would leave their holiday alone is not what I want English-literate Indonesians to be reading.

Phoebe Maltz Bovy said...


I'd almost agree with Douthat on one tiny point - it strikes me as ridiculous this particular year that I'm supposed to find the expression 'the holidays' inclusive, when the collective dreidel has long since been put away for the year. If 'the holidays' are Christmas and New Years, so be it, but the idea that we're still in Chanukah-time, that apartment buildings need to keep displaying their lobby menorahs, is just odd.

Although I don't think that's what Douthat's getting at at all.


First off, I want to hear more about your international adventures/work/whatever it is you're doing somewhere more exciting than the Battery Park City studio apt where I'm writing my dissertation.

As for Douthat-columns abroad, I remember seeing one in a daily paper in Paris over the summer. and it was one about some issue that eventually led him to link to me complaining about it, so I felt I had this slightest tangential link to the French intelligentsia. Not sure how representative of America the column seems abroad, or even in the real-America it ostensibly represents within the Times.

PG said...

My husband and I are traveling for a year, specifically targeting the Southern Hemisphere (where neither of us had ever been) and countries we wouldn't want to tote kids to (eg Cambodia). We're not working until Jan. 1 because we have to keep our year's income under a certain level to retain benefits. (Also my husband was convinced that Obama would raise taxes on us and make it retroactive to 2010.) So instead we're writing, me an update of a study on discriminatory legislation, my husband various things about corporation law. The traveling has been pretty good so far, although the tough parts are yet to come. South America was manageable because I know a little Spanish, Australia & NZ speak English, and Indonesia is one of those countries that have taken on a Roman alphabet for their language, so I can read the names of roads and places. But Khmer and Thai have their own scripts, so the rest of Southeast Asia may be tricky. Cambodia and Vietnam particularly haven't gotten enough English-speaking tourists that we can assume people at hotels etc. will know any English.

As for Douthat, it's more that given how cheerily Indonesians generally* embrace Christmas as an occasion for shopping, eating and taking off work, I wouldn't want them to get the impression that Western Christians begrudge them the secular celebration. And Douthat characteristically posits his statements not as merely his personal sentiments, but how The Christians feel.

*There is some Islamic radicalism in Indonesia, mostly centered in the separatist province of Aceh, which occasionally results in incidents like the 2000 Christmas bombing of several churches mentioned in that ludicrous "pro-tolerance" column I sent you on FB.

Phoebe Maltz Bovy said...


Your travels sound amazing, and have made law school suddenly sound like the best possible thing in the world.

And yes, that article was charming, charming.