December 25, 2005

Please All, Please None

What is this?

Do you get it? I don't get it. I first saw all those lovely pastel hues this morning while I was still half-awake and for a second, I panicked:

"Shit, it's already Easter?"

Please do not take this to be one of those tiresome "War on Christmas" posts. It is not. Not for one minute do I expect Google to do the logo up all red and green and jingle-bell-hell, complete with a disembodied Santa head forming one of the O's. That would be terrible.

But you know what would have been nice?--If they'd woven in several holiday symbols. A menorah, a Kwanzaa . . . thing? Okay, I admit it: I'm ignorant on the symbols of Kwanzaa. But let's say Google isn't and they wanted to put that in there plus maybe also, if it's not too much trouble, a little something for Christmas. I guess they can just leave the teensy-tiny red and green package already included way down at the bottom right. Anything more might be oppressive.

An enormous discussion about holiday diversity, for want of a better term, erupted in the comments here several weeks ago. I'll focus here on one point I made there: Christmas advocates--wait, let me explain that choice of term.

I don't actually want to say "Christians" here because some of the worst offenders, some of the most "Christmas! In your FACE!" loudmouths, are more properly what I'd call "Christmas secularists." Because the holiday has no religious meaning to them, they assume it has no religious meaning to anyone else--but by gum, it's a moneymaker, isn't it? And who doesn't love lights and tinsel and parties and carols and . . . so we should make an enormous big deal over this Christmas thing, and drag the whole season out for two solid months.

This dingbat below, who dumped a menorah from a mall's holiday display on the grounds that no religious symbols should be represented at the mall, yet kept the "holiday tree" on the grounds that it wasn't a religious symbol, is perfectly representative of what I'm talking about:

"As for the tree, it's not religiously affiliated," Dunn said. "It's just holiday decor that's become part of the decor this time of year. Our focus is on Santa Claus, which has no religious affiliation."

(Via Meryl.) Now, I could be here all day ticking off the ways in which that statement is stupid. But just quickly: "Santa"--that means what again? No one exactly refers to him as "Jolly old Rabbi Nick," do they?

(By the way, the menorah was eventually put back. To which I hope your only reaction is, "GOOD." It ought never have been removed.)

So I don't actually want to say "Christians," even though some Christians are implicated here as well, because some other Christians, including a few prominent ones, are appalled by what's happened to the holiday. It's become a monster. It's become so commercialized and secularized that there are people arguing in all seriousness that it's only a "holiday tree." And, again, it's just too omnipresent in this country and lasts way too long. Christians and Christmas secularists do not need to commandeer fully one-sixth of the year to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

Remember when it was only 12 days? Neither do I. It's been this two-month extravaganza ever since I can remember. Can't stuff the kid's room full of worthless crap if you don't start that shopping nice and early! If it weren't for that inconvenient pagan holiday, I honestly believe the stores would start decorating for Christmas some time after Labor Day.

No wonder people get disgusted. No wonder there's some pushback to make this time of year more inclusive.

On the other hand, whoever designed that logo has forgotten a teaching from Aesop's fables: Please all, and you will please none. For fear of saying the wrong thing, it says nothing at all, except perhaps that there's some winter holiday going on that is best symbolized by Easter egg colors. Which, last I looked, there isn't.

Be inclusive, by all means--but don't become so neutral as to become meaningless.

TANGENTIAL UPDATE: I have to get this off my chest, because it's been bugging me for some time now:

If you're one of those people who rants endlessly about the ostensible war on Christianity, please do Christianity a favor, and shut your bossy piehole already.

I know you think you're helping, but you're not helping. Please convert to Buddhism immediately; someone needs to keep an eye on Richard Gere. Thank you.

Posted by Ilyka at December 25, 2005 11:58 AM in i don't know you tell me

In terms of Samhain, that doesn't stop them anymore - they had Santas in the malls in October here (have to be able to get the Christmas cards printed from those lovely photos of the kids with Santa!)

And I'm glad to see this site is active again!

Posted by: Zendo Deb at December 25, 2005 10:29 PM

I haven't been able to figure out that particular Goo-graphic, either. No, really. What is it?

P.S. Glad you're blogging again.

Posted by: Roxanne at December 25, 2005 11:15 PM

Roxanne: It's Christmas lights, behind the Google logo.

Thus the mouse-wheel to generate the power, and the earlier (in the series of graphics) failure to plug it in to a too-short extension cord.

Here is the full series of Christmas logos from 2005.

Posted by: Sigivald at December 28, 2005 11:32 AM

Thanks Sigivald! I'd only seen two of them, and couldn't work out what the hell it was about.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at December 28, 2005 08:47 PM