Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas thoughts

This post will be published on December 24 – the day when the Christmas Celebrations reach their climax in Sweden. I know it’s pretty much an ordinary day in most countries – quite a few of you probably read this post at work. But where I live this is The Day, especially for children, opening their Christmas gifts.

It probably sounds a bit weird, but guess which tradition we have in Sweden, which is supposed to catch and symbolize the spirit of the season, the thing that no one would dream of not doing? Did I hear anyone suggesting going to church, attending a midnight mass? Wrong. Wrong. Wrong!

The thing that unites the Swedish nation for Christmas is watching Disney Cartoons, seeing Donald Duck and his friends wishing us a Merry Christmas. It’s tradition and it’s pretty geeky when you think about it. Every year on Christmas Eve at 3 pm, at least 75 percent of us will assemble in front of the television to watch cartoons. It will last for one hour, during which we enter a state of Christmas coma, half awake, half asleep, due to drinking too much of a spicy, sweet and hot alcoholic beverage called “glögg”, an equivalent to the more wellknown “glüwein”. When the cartoons are over it’s time to open the Christmas gifts, with or without the presence of Santa Claus. And once the kids are happily playing with their new toys, the grownups will throw themselves into a huge dinner, mostly consisting of meat in all shapes you can think of, a dinner well worthy the mightiest of the Vikings of Howling Fjord.

Since I have a family, this is what I’ll be doing too. I doubt that I’ll get the opportunity to visit Azeroth at all today. But I know some of you will, for various reasons, out of free will, or out of lack of alternatives. Maybe you haven’t got much of a family – or there are reasons why you can’t or even don’t want to spend Christmas with them.

The faces of Christmas
Christmas has so many different faces. It can represent love, friendship and sheer joy. But it can also be the opposite – expectations that are impossible to live up to, conflicts, loneliness, disappointment.

I haven’t yet been in the situation where spending Christmas in Azeroth would be an alternative, so I haven’t got any personal experience from it. From what I’ve heard I can imagine it’s very calm, but yet never totally empty. There will always be a few other people around on your server, people you can group with, chat with, people who can help you feel less lonely, if that’s what you feel in real life (and by the way you can feel really lonely even though you’re surrounded by people in real life, mental loneliness isn’t the same as physical).

To all of you who will be online – whether it’s for company or just for a little break of entertainment and relaxation, to get away from all the “musts” and “should dos” for a little while – to all of you I’d like to send my thoughts and greetings.

Society may frown upon such activities as playing an MMO at Christmas. Maybe you’ve heard claims that “gamers are losers” so many times that you’ve started to believe in them. Don’t. There’s no law that obliges you to do certain things at Christmas; it isn’t forbidden to enjoy Icecrown more than one hour of Donald Duck, no matter what they try to make you believe. Your way of spending Christmas may be a bit different and unusual, but it isn’t necessarily a bad way.

Christmas atmosphere
I think it’s very much doable to experience some great Christmas atmosphere in game. Just put on the pink glasses I talked about a while ago. Try to treat the players you meet a little bit better than you normally do. Give a stranger an unexpected hand. If you see someone who seems a bit clueless, help them out!

The Christmas in Azeroth (Well, “Feast of Winter Veil” as they call it for some obscure reason, I guess in order to stick to a non-confessional policy) isn’t created only by NPCs. It isn’t only about completing certain quests and getting achievements. The Christmas is created by people like you and me. It’s about how we treat each other and look on the world. Help to turn this Christmas into one worth remembering, especially for all those whose closest family is the virtual one.

Last, but not least I’d like to wish all the guests of The Pink Pigtail Inn a Merry Christmas! Thank you for all of your support and all the fun times we’ve had this year. I don’t know if I’ll be posting quite as regularly the next few days. But be sure that you’re in my thoughts.


David said...

I wonder if Glogg is related to grog, the alcoholic beverage favored by pirates and burly knight-types.

Here in the U.S. (I say this as an American, as I am living in Japan currently) the favorite T.V. show, I think, is a screening of 'It's a wonderful life', but recently people are gravitating to watching 'A Christmas Story' which is more modern and campy. I think on one cable TV station they run that movie for 24 hours, over and over again!

In Japan Christmas is a time for a hot date, or presents for kids. Zero spiritual or religious overtones here. The dinner of choice is Kentucky Fried Chicken (I kid you not, you have to reserve your bucket a week in advance!) There's more Christmas spirit in Azeroth than in Japan!

Have a happy Christmas!

Rich said...

Society may frown upon such activities as playing an MMO at Christmas. Maybe you’ve heard claims that “gamers are losers” so many times that you’ve started to believe in them. Don’t. There’s now law that obliges you to do certain things at Christmas, it isn’t forbidden to enjoy Icecrown more than one hour of Donald Duck, no matter what they try to make you believe. Your way of spending Christmas may be a bit different and unusual, but it isn’t necessarily a bad way.

Pure Awesome.

Gevlon said...

Poor Larísa! Watching Donald Duck sounds terrible, except if Scrooge McDuck is involved :-)

Tomorrow I also go to family, so my posts will also be pre-made. However I will miss Azeroth where at least the NPC-s don't act like sweethearts for 2 days while they are definitely not on the other 363.

Good luck surviving Donald and the spicy drink and the lot of meat. We want you back!

Anonymous said...

I have 2 kids and a young family too (7 daughter and 3 boy) so i too will be watching christmas telly.

Thank god my daughter is also a Dr Who fan haha.

Merry christmas.

Anonymous said...

@David: it's possible that "grog" is referring to "grogg", which is a nickname for alcoholic drinks, preferrably consisting of some soft drink and spririts as vodka.

Oh I love the movie "it's a wonderful life". I really do. And I keep suggesting my kids that we should watch it and make it a tradition, but they fail to see the charm of it. I suspect that the age of it and black and white looks is putting them away from it, which is a pity.

@Ixobelle: thanks!

@Gevlon: Actually I do like Uncle Scrooge a lot, but I'm afraid he's not in those cartoons. However I'll very likely enlighten a few momentd during Christmas reading the collected works of Carl Barks in 30 huge volumes (including articles about anything Carl Barks connected topic you could ever think of). I AM a nerd and I'm not even ashamed of it.

@Esdras: well done! I've managed to get one of my daughters into a Star Trek fan. She got three seasons of Enterprise as a birthday gift, and that was something she had wished for. Now we're enjoying them together.

@all: Merry Christmas to you too!

Jessica Hirsch said...

I hope you have a great Christmas and thank you for the post about your Christmas traditions. It was very fun to read. :)

Anonymous said...

Oh, that was my comment above. Heehee. Still getting used to having a blog. :P


Anea said...

Hm, Donald Duck on Christmas Eve? I never knew that about Sweden. Another factoid added to my knowledge!

I am currently living in Louisiana in the US with my boyfriend and the tradition down here, too, is to open gifts on Christmas Eve. Which is different than my Colorado tradition of waiting until Santa has come, and opening them on Christmas Day.

One Christmas classic that I love watching is Dr. Seuss' The Grinch. Jim Carrey's The Grinch is also quite hilarious and I've watched it quite a lot since it came out. If you haven't seen it yet, I highly recommend it.

Merry Christmas!

Anonymous said...

for as nutty as my family can be - I am eternally greatful that i have loved ones to share the maddness and the joy with :)

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