HAWK TALK – Surviving the (Holiday) Experience

This would usually be a skip week, but the world is still being a jerk, so we made you a bonus, entirely unedited, and almost entirely off-topic episode. This time, we talked about holidays, winter and otherwise.


Topics, roughly:

  • Time, which used to make sense
  • Several holidays and feelings, media, and traditions related thereto
  • Flash Gordon
  • Mixed-faith families
  • A New York Christmas Wedding (the lesbian time travel gay dead baby angel movie)
  • Gingerbread
  • Secular rituals
  • Night in the Woods: Lost Constellation
  • The Dark is Rising (again)
  • The Spirit of Christmas (which is to say, exploding)
  • J. Michael Strazynski’s The Real Ghostbusters
  • Community‘s first three holiday specials
  • Justice League: Comfort & Joy
  • Passover and that time Moses gave Pharaoh a frog
  • Passover and Miles trying very hard to play it cool
  • Chocolate bunny funerals
  • Easter basket comics
  • Being excellent to each other and partying on

Links and further reading:

18 comments

  1. Joe says:

    Aussie christmas is a mix of christmas and summer traditions. Like, all the decorations, food, presents. But we all wear summer clothes and can go to the park or the beach or whatever. We can have a barbeque christmas if we want. The white part of white christmas often refers to the white hot sun, or sliced white meat from the supermarket deli section.

    There are often pictures of Santa in singlet and board shorts. His sleigh is pulled by kangaroos. I imagine immigrants from the northern hemisphere must be either confused, amused, or both about the mixed messages we send.

    This year I’m indulging in a new tradition, which is playing Cyberpunk 2077 until my eyeballs fall out.

  2. Brian says:

    this is my favorite “hawk talk” ever… so many feels! You guys really nailed it with how you explained your experiences. I have a more “Miles” relationship with Christmas but Jay really expressed the emotion in a way I could understand, and it really felt like a conversation

  3. thumb says:

    Christmas in my family gradually, through no fault of my parents, became as unChristmaslike as possible. We leave the gifts on the living room table, instead of surprising each other with gifts we just ask or state what we each want, and of course, watch Die Hard and Aliens at midnight.

    That second one, by the way, is the best Christmas tradition that no one else seems to approve of. If you care what someone wants for Christmas, you don’t have to guess. Especially with adults. If adults want a thing badly, they probably already bought it or can’t afford it. Find out which one it is and help them for the holidays. There’s no way to figure it out on your own. And if they don’t specifically need anything right now, money is still the best gift. It’s always the exact thing they’ll want.

  4. Icon_UK says:

    Brit’s don’t have a Thanksgiving equivalent (I don’t think Guy Fawkes/Bonfire Night counts, as that’s a different sort of festival).

    Out of curiosity, is Thanksgiving seen as a secular thing, or does it have religious connotations for people in the US?

    I grew up in a large Catholic household, so the religious part of Christmas was important to us (Though Easter is technically a bigger deal, religiously speaking), but it was always fun at a family level.

    Having a lot of siblings meant presents were never going to be big or fancy, and often were a tad silly, but that seemed to be the right way to treat the idea and it’s continued like that to this day (Which is something of a relief when nephews and nieces are counted in).

    My parents also maintained a rule early on as we got older and moved away: If you wanted to come home for Christmas you’d always be welcome (along with any other family or friends you happened to bring, we usually had room enough and sleeping bags on floors if nothing else), but there would never be pressure on anyone (and FROM anyone) to come if other things are happening in their life. So if your job, or travel issues, or other commitments from a partner’s family etc then so be, that’s how life with grown-up kids is supposed to work.

    Likewise attending Christmas Masses was entirely voluntary, some of us kept our faith, some of us didn’t, and no arguments were to be had about that.

    As a result, if we came home for Christmas it was because we wanted to come home and spend time there, and because we never felt guilted into it, we were relaxed about it.

    So when people came back after the Christmas break at work and complained about having had to spend ANOTHER Christmas with their relatives, I actually felt kind of guilty because my family tended to get along or, being honest, at least knww each other well enough to put up with each other’s idiosyncracies for controlled periods of time. 🙂

    This year will feel different, since most of us won’t be seeing family directly but, again, we all know that that’s just how life is in 2020 and no one feels slighted or put out by anyone’s decision not to visit, I’m happy to say.

    We are notionally considering having some sort of SUMMER Solstice family get-together (vaccines permitting) and since as far as we’re aware there is no Christian relgiious festival centred around that, and co-opting Druidic Solstice rites doesn’t seem quite right, we’ll happily go full secular on THAT one! 🙂

    I do feel that the UK’s decision to relax travek abd socialisng rules for Christmas, when it didn’t do so for Diwali or Eid is entirely reprehensible and will not end well!

    • Voord 99 says:

      I am *shocked*.

      You know perfectly well that any random day is going to be the feast day of multiple saints and beati. Looking it up, I find that the 20th of June (next year’s summer solstice) offers a fine selection of such luminaries as St. Novatus of Rome, St. Methodius of Olympus, St. Macarius of Petra, St. Gemma of Saintonge, St. Goban, St. Guibsech of Cluain-Baireann, St.Adalbert of Magdeburg, St. John Pulsano, St. Paul and St. Cyriacus of Lower Moesia, among many others.

      Perhaps a little awkwardly, it is the feast of the seventeen Irish Martyrs, beatified for dying for their faith at the hands of, well…

      But good news, it is also the feast day of the English Jesuits who were martyred in 1679, the Blessed Thomas Whitbread, the Blessed Anthony Turner, the Blessed John Fenwick, the Blessed John Gavan, and the Blessed William Harcourt. If you don’t want to feel resentment about the fact that Catholics used to be falsely accused of plotting to kill the monarch, there’s the English saint Edburga of Caistor, who has an unquestionably cool name.

      Apparently no Scots. Sorry.

      • Icon_UK says:

        Utilising someone named St. Methodius of Olympus, sounds like it could notionally cover the Catholic, Methodist and Greek pantheons for a pseudo-Druidic festival! (Since we’re basing it around the Solstice)

        That’s either wonderfully ecumenical, or utterly blasphemous on more levels than I can count. Let’s do it! Though I’d recommend rubber galoshes, we might get a LOT of thunderbolt smiting going on!

    • Sinister Pryde says:

      I’m no x-pert, but as far as I know Thanksgiving has no religious significance. Certainly, it is celebrated by people of many faiths here in the States.

      • Voord 99 says:

        I believe it’s historically iChristian, which is why it’s called Thanksgiving (God being to whom one gave thanks) – being the product of a time when the notion of a purely secular festival would be strange. It was definitely still strongly framed as Christian in the 19th century (see Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation, which is very explicit about this).

        But it is not particularly inflected with Christian ideas in its current form from my expatriate-in-America perspective. Ideologically, nowadays it comes across as being mostly about family, or rather Family!

        It’s at an annoying time of the year. Canadian Thanksgiving is much more sensible.

      • Jay says:

        I mean, it’s secular in roughly the same way that the rest of the United States is–nominally, but wrapped around some intensely Christian foundational doctrine.

  5. David LaRoss says:

    I loved Jay’s Passover story. I’m from another Jewish/Catholic mixed marriage and when grandparents were still around we did a round-robin Haggadah, with each of us taking turns reading lines of the story, and when my sister was little we had to adjust the seating based on who was attending the seder that year, so she would be the one to announce the plague of frogs. It was pretty much the only part of the holiday she cared about.

    • Jay says:

      Aw, that’s so good.
      I love how the frogs are the part that really sticks with kids!

      • Icon_UK says:

        Believe it or not, I just passed by this link to a Steve Liber tweet, which I cannot verify, but I’m sure other, more learned, souls would be able to.

        https://twitter.com/steve_lieber/status/1250266431909855232

        ‘The original text uses the singular “tzefardeah”(frog) rather than the plural “tzefardim”(frogs) so it says, “… the frog came up and covered the land of Egypt.” This was interpreted by some to mean that Pharaoh’s land was in fact plagued by a single giant-ass frog.’

        Which also reminds me of mention in Terry Pratchett’s ‘Pyramids’ where mention is made of a kingom which did indeed have a plague of (singular) frog. Which got into the pipes, grew to enormous size, and kept everyone awake with it’s croaking ehoing though the night.

  6. Andrew Nienaber says:

    Jay, thank you for speaking out about your issues with Christmas. I have very similar issues and have always hated the holidays, and it’s something that the general public just doesn’t seem to understand. Being called a Scrooge constantly because I can’t muster up enough fake cheer to cover the emotional volcano that Christmas leaves me with just adds to the problem. For the last few years I’ve made it a point to speak up about it, about how family problems, seasonal affective disorder, depression and other, more mundane factors can contribute to issues around the holidays, and I really appreciate hearing someone talk about it in such a public way. Kudos to you, I really felt seen.

  7. Devin says:

    I will say, I’m definitely more of a Miles than a Jay as far as Christmas goes (but I totally respect that what I love isn’t for everyone). I love the Christmas season, partially because I’ve been lucky enough to A) have enough good memories wrapped up in it and B) really use it as a way either to celebrate found family or biological family, depending on the year.

    Probably my favorite tradition is that pretty much November 1 every year (this year, we did October 31st because we’re not Halloween people AT ALL and it was a Saturday), we set up the tree, mull wine, make pfefferneussen and some other traditional Christmas foods, and watch a ton of Christmas specials, but particularly the season 5 episode of the prime time late 00s ABC soap opera, Brothers & Sisters. It’s our favorite show, our comfort food in general, and while season 5 is a mess, this episode is a wonderful mix of everything from a combo “it’s a wonderful life meets Christmas carol” dream sequence that includes mention of a movie about Sally Field’s husband’s mistress making a movie about marrying a chimpanzee AND poisoning eggnog, to a subplot with a radio ventriloquist, to an awkward plug for Macy’s, to a pretty epic fight over a Christmas village, to Ron Rifkin singing Hebrew at the end…all somehow wrapped up with some legit x-mas cheer. Like, not lying when I say, for all its faults, it’s probably my favorite single episode of TV.

    I could go on A WHILE about other staples I watch, but instead, I’d say another big thing is productions pretty similar to how Jay’s describes Tea’s for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Thanksgiving (minus this year) our place is usually a locus for anyone who doesn’t travel home and we always have a goal of – among other things – more desserts than people. It also becomes a beautiful mix of weird regional traditions (I always make ziti, my husband and another friend do very midwest casseroles, texans make baked beans and Mac and cheese etc).

    Christmas tends to be similar when we stay here. When I visit home, usually my friends and I will gather for a party. Years ago, we were at another person’s party, he had a piano, and we began signing carols (one friend’s an elementary school music teacher). From there, it’s kinda evolved so that that is, like, the high point of our seeing each other every year – after gifts are exchanged and much booze is had, we begin caroling, ultimately reaching it’s apex with Twelve Days of Christmas, around which we have certain dances/voices/etc. for each day.

    As far as Hanukkah goes, I have a long and complicated relationship with my Jewish side that I don’t necessarily want to go into here, but have been trying to get more into it lately. I was going to actually be throwing a Hanukkah party this year before, well, *gestures wildly at everything*

    • Devin says:

      PS we just watched A New York Christmas Wedding and that was a delightful play-doh cocktail. And the play-doh got molded into an ornament!

      • Voord 99 says:

        I actually heard that as putting “Plato” in your cocktail, which was intriguing but somewhat unclear to me. Platonic thought? Actual Plato’s ashes?

        “Play-doh” – yes, now I see.

  8. Voord 99 says:

    We used to spend every Christmas with my grandfather in the North when I was a child, who lived when he retired in a seaside village in Co. Down. So aside from things like crossing the border and being stopped by poor depressed British soldiers who had to stand outside in miserable rainy and cold winter weather questioning every car that passed, I mostly associate Christmas with my grandfather’s cooking.

    We were responsible for bringing up the turkey or goose from Dublin, but my grandfather did everything else, and would not tolerate anyone else attempting to help him cook, although he would occasionally unbend and allow you to help with the dishes. (He was a difficult man, admirable in many ways, but not an easygoing personality.)

    My grandfather was an excellent cook, remarkably so for a man of his generation, which was because my grandmother was in poor health for most of her life and my grandfather had done all the cooking and housework. But he had been an army officer, and he approached cooking in a regimented and disciplined way (which was how he did pretty much everything), in which everything was timed precisely so that each course would be ready and perfectly cooked at exactly the right time to be served in a dinner that began at 6 o’clock and at no other time. But as long as you were in your chair at the table at the correct time, the food itself was excellent.

    Aside from that, I mostly associate Christmas with television, both TV specials and big deal films, in an era when there were only six channels (and since I was in the North, only the four British ones were actually viewable.)

    This will be the first Christmas in a long time in which I’m spending it entirely by myself – I usually go back to my parents, but they are obviously very old, and I don’t want to expose them to the risk that I might pick up the coronavirus en route. Fortunately, my general introversion and comfort with my own company* means that I am quite looking forward to it. I was very happy to have Thanksgiving to myself and spend the day cooking and eating.

    *Misanthropy? Yes, probably misanthropy.

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