Culture & Conversation

Posts from the ‘Celebration’ category


Knowing when to stop

For most of my life I have hated Christmas. My father was often laid off just before the holidays and there wasn’t much money for presents. It didn’t stop me from wanting things. And I always wanted things.

It’s Dark Out There

Riders of the Montreal metro have reason to cringe when they hear the chimes presaging the announcement of unwelcome news, such as service interruptions. “Un incident nous oblige d’interrompre le service sur la ligne orange …,” a typical message may begin.

Mister, Can You Spare a Dime?

Growing up, the kick-off to the holiday season was always the Telethon of Stars that played on CTV and TQS (now called the V network or something.) The first weekend of December, the Telethon of Stars would air from Saturday morning to Sunday evening. Hosted by various TV personalities, the telethon would play movies, cutting in occasionally to show off some local talent or have the CEO of Bombardier give Randy Tieman an over-sized check. The goal: raising money for the Foundation for Research into Children’s Diseases.


Black Friday indeed

Why are all my Facebook friends wishing each other Happy Thanksgiving and jumping up and down about Black Friday? Most of them are either Canadian or from abroad. I give a pass to the maybe 10% who are shouting out to their American friends or family. The rest, I can only conclude, are going to bed dreaming vicariously of Blue Rays, iPad minis and even flatter screens. This, people, is how the world ends.

Compassion is the New Currency

For those who missed out on a Christian education, or have forgotten the words, the carol Away in A Manger tells the story of the birth of Jesus in a stable in Bethlehem. Like the Occupiers today, Jesus and his parents were part of the 99%. They were poor citizens of an indifferent Empire. Ordered by government decree to leave their home in Nazareth and travel to Bethlehem, Joseph and a pregnant Mary were made homeless because Rome was preparing a census for taxation purposes. Some things don’t change. The man whose message of peace and love would inspire billions over the centuries, was himself poor and homeless when he entered this world.

Occupy the Future

There’s a great line in one of George Walker’s plays about growing older. A character – somebody’s crusty mother – remarks that as we age, we either get more like ourselves, or less. “I’m going for the more,” she snaps. Me too. Is there really any other choice?

Accumulation of the Useless

Occupy Christmas: International Day of Action has been a welcome initiative for many of us. The holiday season is a hectic, stressful time for working families who end up spending well beyond their means on gifts, meals and entertainment. This spending spree now extends beyond the holiday season and into the New Year, as lining up outside big box stores for big ticket items has become a popular new tradition in the past decade. The real winners in all this are the corporations, credit card companies and banks. Otherwise known as 1%.

Protestant? Sure

All of my immediate family members were born in Montreal, but because we were raised as Jews, our observance of Christmas consisted largely of getting into the family car on a fine evening in late December and driving around certain neighbourhoods to admire the extravagant displays of ornamental lighting that some householders had taken the trouble to put on show. This was not the whole story of Christmas, of course, and school filled in some of the gaps in my knowledge.

Tout le monde en fête

A Québec employer summons two employees from different cultural backgrounds, and apologises for a Christmas card that was sent around the Office — which he is sure has offended both of them.

Little Brother, Remember the Christmas?

Remember the Christmas when you got into Mom’s purse? They caught you in the closet, lipsticks and keys and coins and tissues on the floor, encircling you like a wreath. You were building a little pyramid of pills, your fingers chalky with pink dust.

1% Shopping, 99% Love

Occupy Christmas. I could come up with a whole slew of definitions for how these two words fit together. For example, how we shouldn’t be so fixated on consumerism, how we’re digging ourselves even deeper holes with holiday debt, and so on. But, I choose to see this all a little differently.