What do non-Christians do at Christmas anyway?

December 18, 2008 | By | 7 Replies More

What indeed!

Well, it may surprise some people, but we don’t sit around eating freshly roasted babies in front of a roaring church fire and wiping our mouths with Bible pages while we plot the destruction of Christianity. For one thing, it’s summer in Australia, which means it’s bushfire season.

No, what my family & friends do is more or less what everyone else does. For instance, this year Mrs Hank, the dog & I are driving nine hours from Melbourne to see our friends & family in Adelaide. We’ll eat, play with our nephews’ new toys, drink, eat, drink, eat, sleep and probably just keep doing that until Boxing Day, when I have to fly back to Melbourne to play with the band – and fly back to Adelaide the next day to continue my vacation. Upon my return we’ll head to our friend’s beach house, meet up with the crew, drink, eat, watch Australia play South Africa in the cricket on TV (ah, the annual glory of the Boxing Day Test Match) and maybe even play some cricket on the beach if it’s not too windy. Or go body surfing, walk the dog, have another nap, read one of the books I’m bound to get in my stocking…normal summer holiday stuff.

For my family & friends, this time of year is for just being together and enjoying being around each other. That’s not just because they’re all 800 kilometres away and this is the most time I’ll spend with them all year – I’m at an age where my older brothers have almost school-age nephews and my friends are passing the “everyone’s getting married” stage and moving to the next step of increasing the population, which makes our annual meets even more special. It’s just a flat-out buzz watching my brothers & best mates being all father-y (and my folks be all grandparent-y, which they just love) and little kids dig Christmas like no adult ever could. And of course I love being uncle Hank! I also feel kinda lucky that my family don’t argue or get crabby at each other this time of year, we just relax and catch up and eat mum’s cooking. Sheesh, it’s Adelaide in December. Too damn hot to argue, hand me another beer.

Now, we don’t do Hallowe’en or Thanksgiving in Oz so we don’t have a “holiday season” per se. We save up our overconsumption & rampant silliness for that precious golden week between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve and try and smash together as many parties and barbecues as is humanly possible. Today is my last day of work for three weeks and I’m greatly looking forward to it. Once again it’s been a challenging year for the Red Cross, what with Cyclone Nargis devastating Myanmar and that massive earthquake traumatising China barely a week later, not to mention all the other stuff we’ve been doing locally in Oz, and we’re all looking forward to a break.

Anyway, before I bugger off and go have fun, I’ll wish you all the merriest of Christmases and a swingin’ New Year. Thanks to Erich for inviting me to join the DI faculty and for being an all-round good bloke. To everyone else – thanks for making me feel welcome! Nice place you got here.

OK, that’s all I’ve got for 2008. OK chaps, what are you all up to this season?

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About the Author ()

Hank was born of bird-watching bushwalking music-loving parents from whom he gained his love of nature, the universe & bicycles. Today he's a musician, non-profit aid worker, beagle keeper and fair & balanced internet commentator - but that just means he has a chip on each shoulder.

Comments (7)

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  1. Erich Vieth says:

    Hank – It's great to have you with us. I've enjoyed your upbeat warm-hearted gadfly-esque writing ever since you dropped in to introduce yourself to a comment-poster who just couldn't stop commenting and just couldn't help his fundie-ways. I hope that he (the prolific comment-maker) has found peace in the real world.

    BTW, I really enjoyed our recent conversation from half-way around the world. And I don't mean to jump the gun by telling readers that you have shared some of your band's music with me (via MP3's), and I am somewhat confidant that I will someday be able to tell the world "I knew him when . . ." When your CD is officially released, I hope that you write a detailed post on the creative process behind your music.

    As the holiday approaches, I struggle to keep all consumerist tendencies to a minimum without being insultingly so. A woman who recently commented at DI is helping me keep things in perspective. She reminded me why I wrote about why the Grinch who Stole Christmas is actually much more evil than most people suspect.

    My two daughters are 8 and 10 now. That means that they are at the stage where they conspire to harass me in constantly new ways. This week, their attack consisted of sneaking up and placing Post-It notes on my back. The notes said such things as "Kick me!" or "I am a bozo." This results in me hunting them down (they still have some difficulty keeping from laughing while in their hiding spots whenever I make snorting noises. I expect that a lot of equally sophisticated activity will happen throughout the holidays.

    My family will be in Long Island NY for a few days. That means that polymath mother-in-law will ask me quite a few questions about her Mac notebook, and I will do my best to answer them in order to attempt to impress my wife.

    I hope to use a few days away from lawyering in order to have no agenda at all. That's not something I'm very good at.

    I'll try to not let the urge to blog get in the way of the holiday spirit, but I won't completely succeed in that either. After all, well before I started blogging, I talked about the same sorts of things I now write about. Blogging has not gotten those ideas out of my system. Rather, it seems to have made it all the worse. While I'm not blogging at a computer, then, I'll likely be verbally-blogging over turkey dinner or while taking walks to what is likely to be a very cold beach. Speaking of blogging, on the way in from LGA, I hope to drink a cup of coffee with Ebonmuse, who I have had the pleasure of visiting in person once before. One other thing about DI: I'm a bit obsessed these days with possibilities for redesigning the DI site. That is a complicated yet exciting endeavor and I've been having some trouble not thinking about it these days.

    Once back in St. Louis, I will try to connect with some people I have ignored for too long–my guilt list is a mile long. It's just terribly difficult to keep up with everyone that I'd like to see. Life seems ever too short when the Christmas holidays comes around every 7 months or so it seems.

    Regarding the best way to spend the holidays, I think you nailed it. Christmas, like all holidays, is a good time to spend un-rushed time with the people in your realm of concern. Throw in some tasty (yet unpretentious) food and some (homemade, not pre-recorded) music. Stir in lots of humility and a generous helping of laughing. Those are my plans and hopes.

  2. Hank says:

    Sounds rather brilliant to me! So do those kids of yours. Outstanding nerve 🙂 Hope we can all have a cup of coffee one of these days. Though the kids should get warm milk or something – sounds like they don't require extra stimulation. My nephews are 5, 5 and 3 and I can't imagine anything more frightening than those little blokes getting into the espresso.

    Redesign sounds cool – whenever there's anything I can't stop thinking about, I take that as a sign I should really do something if I ever want to sleep again!

    Good luck with being agenda-less. Hope you have a great break.

    Happy everything! We'll chat again soon I'm sure.

  3. Tim Hogan says:

    I'm having an open house on new years day. If you're over my way, drop me a line at: my fullname at charter.net

  4. Erich Vieth says:

    There's a simple system at the Hogan house. If Tim approves of your opinions, he let's you sit near the fireplace. If you say something he doesn't approve of, he throws you in.

  5. Hank says:

    Sounds fair to me. Next time I'm in the neighbourhood I'll make sure I'm all read-up on what Tim thinks before I knock on the door…

  6. Tim Hogan says:

    Sheesh, you found out, Erich! I have wondered why you've never visited like you always said you wood, er, would!

  7. Edgar Montrose says:

    “What do non-Christians do at Christmas anyway?”

    Let me see: I'll get up, shower, dress, stoke the wood stove, fix myself some breakfast, check my email, do some computer work, notice that it snowed overnight, go outside and shovel snow, stoke the wood stove, fix myself some lunch, check my email, do some computer work, shovel some more snow, stoke the wood stove, plan to go to the market to pick something up for supper only to realize that the market is closed for the holiday, prepare supper from whatever's in the refrigerator, stoke the wood stove, watch some TV, check my email, stoke the wood stove, retire for the evening.

    Pretty much the same as any other day.

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