Randomly Taking the X Out of Christmas

Although I spent a lot of time in history of Christianity classes at university and know that the “X” in “Xmas” is ancient shorthand for “Christ” and not some secular conspiracy, it still bothers me a bit that the Japanese use “Xmas” instead of “Christmas”.

First it bothers me that in most of the government approved English textbooks “Xmas” is offered as an appropriate example of a word that starts with X. For example: “V is for Violence; W is for Whiskey; X is for Xmas; Y is for Yelling,” (Which, now that I think about it, is a lot like shopping on Black Friday.) I keep pointing out that “X-ray” or “xylophone” would be better but then get thrown out of the discussions.

Beyond that it’s surprising how easily the religious aspects are removed from the celebration. It’s all Santa and snowmen and reindeer and no hints at all of what the X stands for. I make sure our girls know the actual history of Christmas, but it’s not a holiday here; it’s more like Valentine’s Day. (In fact, She Who Must Be Obeyed will be working tomorrow.) It’s mostly an excuse to put up lights and buy cake.

Speaking of cake, I’m also bothered that everyone asks me what kind of cake I ate at Christmas when I was growing up. I tell them I didn’t eat cake and they give me skeptical looks and go “really?” as if I’m lying to them. Eventually I go all Grinch meets Frank Booth and say “Christmas cake? F@#k that sh#t! Pecan pie!” This surprises many of my Japanese friends. (Remind me again: why don’t I get invited to parties?)

The final thing that bothers me about Japanese Christmas is the constantly played, yet limited array of Christmas pop songs including the shockingly inappropriate “Last Christmas” by WHAM!

Last Christmas:
I gave you my heart
But the very next day you gave it away.
This year
To save me from tears
I’ll give it to someone special.

That puts you right in the Christmas spirit, eh? (It’s right up there with singing “I Will Always Love You” and “My Heart Will Go On” at a wedding.) Then we get Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas” a few thousand times and John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” several hundred times. There are a few good Japanese Christmas tunes and a couple inexplicable ones. Kaela Kimura’s “A Winter Fairy is Melting a Snowman” is especially creepy as all it does is repeat the title endlessly.

That said, the girls are still young enough to enjoy Christmas and it’s a nice pause before the onslaught of beer and food at the in-laws (more on that in another post).

Bah! Humbug.

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