Matthew of the amazing and cerebral book blog, A Guy's Moleskine Notebook, wrote today's holiday guest post about . Please leave a comment for Matthew below and be sure to check out his blog!
Being raised Baptist and enrolled in Catholic boys’ school, I knew the Bible like the back of my hand. The story of Jesus’ birth was a staged tradition in school. Despite all the Christian, religious, and biblical inculcation, I was not converted. I resented the notion that a religious faith makes a person. My parents were first generation Chinese raised in Hong Kong just before Mao defeated Chiang Kai Shek and declared the formation of People’s republic of China. They belonged to the generation that believed in being hard-working and making a better life. Religion was the last thing they deemed necessary in improving the quality of life. Religion, or schools sponsored by the missionaries and religious denominations, however, were the answer to children’s welfare, because they were more respectable schools with good discipline record. Christmas was inevitably a tradition observed in school and celebration stayed within its bound. My parents were indifferent about Christmas, although they would take us out to dinner.
Now Christmas is a time to celebrate family (although they live Hong Kong and I don’t always go visit during this peak travel season) and friends. It’s a time to get together, enjoy the company, and eat! My favorite is a pot-luck hosted at a friend’s house where everyone contributes to the feast, which is always an international buffet with samosas, sushi, sesame chickens, and tacos on top of the traditional holiday fares. Over the years I have become scandalized at the collective insanity of Black Friday. Usually, it is associated with a hot new toy or electronics everyone wants. People fear the supply will run out, so an atmosphere of panic buying develops. Now it seems there is no “Big New Thing” and yet people are engaging in the same kind of desperate, driven shopping behavior for ordinary products they can buy any day—like attacking a pellet of cheaply made sandwich maker for $2 each.
The leisure brought about by holidays is best spent on reading and browsing bookstore like City Lights. I don’t have any designated Christmas reading, but would read Christmas carol for fun. I usually read what appeals to me in the pile, picking the novels that book bloggers have passionately recommended to me and that I have saved for the long hours of holidays. This year I’m hoping to read Amber Dermont’s The Starboard Sea and M.L. Stedman’s The Light Between Oceans, which I ended up not reading over my birthday weekend. These are the “cream of the crop” books. I won’t go as far as the Kranks in Skipping Christmas, but I won’t go through the frenzy and hassle myself. As for gifts, I have opted out long time ago. I don’t do gifts and advise friends and family to count me out. I could be spared from the whole madness of elbowing through the stores buying and returning things I have no use for. Food I have plenty and am happy to share, I tell my friends.