Sunday, November 30, 2008

Two Things Challenge: Apples / Oranges

Santa and the Baby Jesus--apples-to-apples in the spirit of giving,
but apples-to-oranges in the context of commercialization and spirituality.


This week's Two Things Challenge was Apples / Oranges. Today also happens to be the first Sunday of Advent in the Christian calendar and signals the commencement of the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. It's also the weekend when folks start shopping like mad for the holidays. I chose as my subject a contrast between Santa Claus and the Christ child and the Nativity and Snoopy.

On the one hand, I understand the meaning of Santa Claus as a symbol of giving, which feeds into the meaning of Christ (or maybe it's the other way around?) who, as the story goes, gave the ultimate sacrifice. (Ironically, Santa Claus is a commercialization of a Christian saint named Nicholas.) On the other hand, I sometimes struggle to reconcile all of the commercial kitsch and doo-dads that have come to mean "Christmas." I thought the above statuette was a perfect apples-to-oranges. Santa is symbolic of the greater meaning of Christ and yet the two are also completely unrelated.

The birth of Jesus and Snoopy--apples-to-oranges representations of the holiday season

Of course, I suppose Santa and Jesus are closer in meaning than things like the Peanuts Gang and Snoopy. Still, what is Christmas without them?

To see how others interpreted this week's challenge, visit 2 Things Challenge. And a shout out to Dreams with the Fishes for the idea that inspired my "Aha Moment" and resulted in this entry.

Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential, 11/08

13 comments:

Virginia said...

Wow, you made quite a statement here today. Fabulous interpretation. Now what the heck is next week's??? Maybe I'll jump back in.
V

Dan said...

Wonderful work on this. We always struggle at this time of year trying to reconcile the material and spiritual aspects of this season. Haven't quite figure out how to do it yet but maybe the point is that we do actually struggle rather than get it all figured out.

Brian said...

This is very deep... a wonderful interpretation.

Denise said...

Great post and I enjoyed your photographs.

marley said...

I used to love the Charlie Brown christmas specials when I was a kid! Thanks for bring back a nice memory :)

Dream With the Fishes said...

Hey!!! Thanks for shout out! I'm really likin' your interpretation of this prompt. So true, everything you're saying. Too bad for Santa, it's not his fault. He's been FRAMED!! by the marketing industry!

D.C. Confidential said...

VJ: Next week is Joint / Venture. You can thank Maya.


Dan: Thanks! It's definitely a delicate balancing act sometimes, isn't it?


Brian: Thank you! I'm glad I came up with something.


Denise: Thank you!


Marley: Charlie Brown Christmas specials are lovely. I also enjoy "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."

Isadora said...

The reason I came to dislike Christmas was exactly the frenzied shopping itch that had been forced on to the population.

Christ was born in September - we are already celebrating it in December to accommodate a pagan gathering. Then the feeling that you must buy a gift for everyone and their brother and mother - come Christmas you are so worn out from the doing and worrying about how you'll pay for it all come January...that it is anything but a celebration. It is something to 'get over'.

In Hungary St. Nicholas comes on December 6th which is the day his name day is celebrated. The night before children place their polished shoes on the window sill and if they were good there will be treats placed in it by Santa, and if not then lumps of coal and/or switches may be found the next morning.

So, have you been good all year? :)

D.C. Confidential said...

Isadora: Interesting. That's the first time I've heard that Christ was born in September. I know another denomination that believes He was born in April. I doubt we'll ever really know.

As for the frenzy of the holidays, I agree with you. It's part of why I liked Christmas in Austria, when I lived there. It was so much less commercial than it is here. Maybe that has changed since I lived there.

As for Nicklaus, when I lived in Austria, I dressed up as him one year and we visited the refugee camps in Linz. I had a great time and made some wonderful memories!

Frohe Weihnachten, Isadora!

Dusty Lens said...

Pefect example! I struggle every year in late autumn as the Christmas holiday looms ever closer. Stores begin the Christmas shopping blitz in September. I have learned to dislike Christmas holiday for it's commercialized materialism. Not my birthday, why do I need a gift? Ah well, this holiday has become a shopping mainstream agenda.

D.C. Confidential said...

Rob: I hear you. My siblings and I are finding, as we get older, that trying to get gifts for each other is more an exercise in mild frustration than out-and-out fun. (Although, my sister always manages to find great gifts.) On top of that, we've all got everything we need and don't need anymore. The commercialization is just over the top these days and takes all of the joy and meaning out of Christmas. This year, I'm refraining. Besides, as you so rightly point out, why are we getting gifts?! It isn't our birthday!

Maya said...

Clever. And some nice shots too!

D.C. Confidential said...

Maya: This is what I was referring to, when we saw the nativity on one side of 5 Spot and Santa on the other.