(I’m writing my Christmas post now because my next post is most likely to be my reaction to The Force Awakens)
This is a bit of my OCD talking: I’m a skeptic when it comes to mixing sci-fi and fantasy with Christmas. I was raised in a family where the religious side of Christmas was always observed, and I’ve continued that in my adult life. Mixing Christmas with Disney princesses or superheroes or so forth can make me a little uncomfortable. Holiday specials featuring these characters can get a little on the cheesy side so I tend to avoid those. Storm troopers in Santa hats? I’ll have to tell you no. If we’re talking fan art, I might be a little more receptive. Yes, I believe that Christmas is “magical,” but I don’t like to mix it with other people’s definitions of that magic. Christmas should be about Christmas! I’m not a total purist, I’m just really picky.
It’s not just the marketing of Christmas, but depending on the world that those characters are live in (for instance, outer space) should they even be celebrating a watered-down version of an Earthling religious holiday? Should we even be making that association? (Granted I haven’t seen Star Trek or Doctor Who so I won’t pass judgment on their Christmas episodes).
But on the other hand, there are a few ways that Christmas can work with fandom, if done right. The holidays are a season for personal reflection, so if we have a character undergoing some development then the celebration would be an appropriate backdrop. I have few, if any, complaints about Iron Man 3 being set at Christmas, for that reason. In fact, Iron Man 3 loosely borrows themes and motifs from Dickens‘ A Christmas Carol.
Christmas is also an occasion for things to happen. In the Harry Potter books, there is usually some kind of an event at Christmastime that moves the plot forward—the Yule Ball and Godric’s Hollow, for instance. I can’t help but question why the Wizarding world celebrates Christmas, but I guess it’s something they’ve carried on from the surrounding Muggle culture. And furthermore, gift exchanges were always a way for Harry to take stock of his relationships: the Durselys sent him a toothpick or a napkin, but he always got cool presents from Sirius Black. So, I just bear in mind that there are ways a fandom Christmas doesn’t have to get under my skin. Here are some tips I’ve discovered, and you’ll probably take them to heart:
1. Get meta about the meaning of “Merry Christmas”
“Do you wish me a Merry Christmas, or mean that it is a Merry Christmas whether I want it or not; or that you feel Merry this Christmas; or that it is a Christmas to be Merry on?” Ugh, Gandalf, you’re giving me a headache. Okay, moving on.
2. Succumb to the charms of cute little snow globes
OK THIS IS NOT A PRODUCT PLACEMENT I SWEAR! I was out Black Friday shopping and I ran across this adorable little snow globe at J.C. Penny’s. It has Luke, Leia, and Chewie and plays the first verse of “The Twelve Days of Christmas”. I fell in love!
3. Call in the troops to Deck the Halls
People question if storm troopers can defeat the rebels or even shoot straight. But these action figures efficiently cordoned off a corner of the living room to set up a Christmas tree, demonstrating the efficiency of the Empire once and for all. If you need your place decorated, the Toy Trooper Legion is the team to call!
4. Put your rad skills into building an uber-geeky Gingerbread house
Or if you don’t have the skills, you can appreciate someone else’s art or find a simpler way to make a gingerbread geek palace. Do a Google image or Pinterest search. The possibilities are endless.
5. Do a themed tree!
Tree ornaments were always just extra toys to me anyway when I was a youngster. I think when I get older I’m going to make a “toy tree” for my own kids. But every geek knows that a Christmas tree is the perfect place to display action figures and model spaceships. For a very Harry tree, use owls, broomsticks, trains, snitches, horcruxes, and potions.
6. Make that Elf on the Shelf pay for his insolence!
Hmm, I wonder how big the bounty is?
7. Get your loved ones their most-wanted Geeky Gifts!
Especially when those loved ones are young and very geeky. Crafts, plushes, action toys, the last book or movie needed for their collection—you can make their wildest dreams come true!
(Sadly I know exactly what Steve Rogers wants for Christmas. Sorry, Steve! I don’t know where Bucky is! This is the last Christmas you’ll have to be without him, I promise!)
8. Celebrate the triumph of good over evil
Christmas is the perfect setting for a fantasy for precisely this reason. It works as a backdrop but not the center of the conflict. The bad guy hating Christmas doesn’t work for me, unless they are motivated by what Christmas stands for. You have do do it just right.
Take Christmas in Narnia for instance: C.S. Lewis elaborates that in the White Witch’s Narnia it is “always winter, never Christmas.” Christmas is part of the regular passage of seasons: it’s part of the bigger scheme. The return of Father Christmas is a signal that the Witch’s power is breaking and that natural order is returning to Narnia. Father Christmas also gives gifts to the Pevensie children that are tools they use in their upcoming mission to liberate Narnia.
That’s what Christmas is about: it’s a celebration of victory and hope. The same can be said for our favorite fandoms.
9. Look for the wonder of Christmas
I think North in Rise of the Guardians put it best: the center of Christmas is wonder. This is true especially with things that involve faith: we need to remember that the center of what we believe in is the miraculous. What draws us to fandom is the fact that the impossible can happen. Christmas is special because of the wonder of the season: the gifts, the lights and decorations, the music. And it’s not just the external trappings: it’s the feeling.
10. Remember that Christmas is a season for joy
Christmas is not about the culturally-constructed stress. It’s a time of year when we can feel joy. We can celebrate the fact that the meaning of life is to find joy and that true happiness is possible. For me, nothing epitomizes sheer joy quite like baby Groot. So if you deck him out with Christmas lights and jingle bells, all the better. And if you tell me “I am Groot” and you really mean “Merry Christmas”, I may return the sentiment.