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Saturday, December 14, 2002

You're a Mean One, Mrs. Grinch

Now here's a fun couple.

After years of sending friends anti-Christmas cards, one of which featured a homeless Santa and another battered child angels, Valerie and Trevor Williams decided to "go big" this year.

"Dear Paula and Paul,
We didn't get your Christmas card last year. We're sure it just got lost in the mail. It must have something to do with unfair, unhealthy conditions at Canada Post, because we got almost no Christmas cards last year. We formed a Blue Ribbon Panel of Concern at the International Workers' Committee to Stop War, End Racism, and Force Equality to look into this matter. So here's hoping you get this year's little gem. Ha ha! Wouldn't a reindeer barbecue be fun? Dibs on the nose!

Yours in solidarity,
Valerie and Trevor"

The result can be seen on a billboard looming over the Pat Bay Highway near Victoria, where commuters, rushing no doubt to buy gifts, are faced with this stark message: "Gluttony. Envy. Insincerity. Greed. Enjoy Your Christmas."


"I think the billboard is stark, it's angry, it's red. Black letters on red, the Christmas colours," she said when asked to describe the sign.

"Dear Wind Blossom,
Yes, we did consider the impact on the environment and local aesthetics before we bought the advertisement on the billboard. But, surely you must see how very, very important it was to get our own personal message out to The People. Remember that we didn't put up the billboard; it was already there. Without our message, it would've read CONSUME! CONSUME! CONSUME! or GREED IS GOOD or KILL BROWN PEOPLE; well, not in so many words, but you know it would amount to the same thing. We intend to explain fully at the annual winter solstice meeting of the International Workers Committee for a 10th Century Future. But please note that, in order to remain pure to our "No Christmas" beliefs, Trevor will not be bringing his special alfalfa-tofu bars this year.

Yours for a greener tomorrow,
Valerie and Trevor"

And instead of greeting cards, the Williams have sent out a mass e-mailing to friends and strangers alike, urging them to join their campaign against the evils of Christmas.

"In response to the growing onslaught of manufactured consumeristic Christmas cheer, we have decided to actively reject the capitalist ideology of Christmas. We refuse to spend one cent on buying into the consumer machine this year -- no tinsel, no tree, no shiny balls, no Christmas cards, no presents, no wrapping paper, no turkey, no cranberry sauce, no candy canes, and no icicle lights," states the Williams's e-mail.

"Christmas will not be coming to this house.... Join us in our Christmas rebellion!"

(My emphasis.)

"Dear Mr. Lewis,
We don't care what you think, our little mailing was not "spam". "Spam" refers only to commercial mailings---which, we assure you, we find as objectionable as you do. Commercial entities have no rights to our personal mailboxes, we agree, but as we are far from commercial entities, this does not apply to us. We are unimpressed by your threat to "tattle" on us to our ISP! In the exceedingly unlikely event they should try to shut us down, we will not be shy to take action against such attempted censorship. We have free speech rights in this country, you know!

Don't you have anything better to do with your life than indulge in this sort of petty carping?

Valerie and Trevor Williams"

A few seasons ago they started to boycott the whole gift-giving, carol-singing, egg-nogging thing and began to send out the anti-Christmas cards, along with a note informing family that instead of giving them gifts they were making donations to charity.


But Mrs. Williams urges her friends to boycott gift giving, and instead to explain to children that their present money has been given to a charity in their name, to help people in need.

"Dear Catherine,
No, I will not be sending your charity gift to the Canadian Alliance this year. That's about the furthest thing you could get from a charity, as if you didn't know. In fact, there won't be any Christmas gifts for your family this year. You've mocked and subverted my beliefs for our entire lives and I'm simply sick of it. That includes your kids, too. I remember last year when your daughter wrote to ask me for a Barbie make-up kit for Christmas. The womyn is eighteen, for Gaia's sake. Don't tell me you didn't put her up to it.

Your sister,

"Who is Santa?" she asks heatedly. "He is the mall's puppet.... Children are taught to worship this white, heterosexual man who overeats. I mean, it's wrong."

"Dear Dad,
Yes, I know that a 'white, heterosexual man who overeats' describes you. No, I wasn't thinking of you directly when I said that, although you should realize that, by your position as a white male heterosexual Christian, you are a member of the patriarchy and therefore an oppressor. But you know that; we've had this conversation before.


After I read about the Williams' brave assault on Christmas I got up and went into the living room, because I always pace when I think. There, I found the Santa hats that Niles and I bought last night. Instead of a cuff of white fur at the bottom, they have a cuff of leopard fur. That's right, real leopard fur. We bought them at Wal-Mart last night. Five dollars each.

I put my hat on and danced around the room, singing "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas".

Ho ho ho ho ho! We went out today and consumed some more!

Via the insufficiently even-tempered Damian Penny