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My Christmas: Kim Huynh

By Kim Huynh - 8 December 2016 12

Columnist and former independent political candidate Kim Huynh is not a huge fan of Christmas, but cares enough about it to be annoyed by moves to make it all as generic as possible by replacing phrases like ‘Merry Christmas’ with the ‘Happy holidays’ or ‘Season’s greetings’.

What I love about Christmas is … I don’t love anything about Christmas, which is not to say, ‘Bah Humbug!’ I appreciate that others love and enjoy it.

In fact, my family arrived in Canberra as refugees four days before the Christmas of 1979. We were taken in by the Ainslie Church of Christ. There are people from that Church whom I love and cherish. And I like going to the Christmas service there.

Wait up, does that mean that I do love Christmas? Mmmm…

What I can say for sure is that I value the spirit and practice of unconditional kindness that makes Christmas so wonderful.

What I love least about Christmas is I’m both intrigued and troubled by the controversies over Christmas salutations and symbols. Thankfully it’s not a huge issue in Australia, but in the US there have been pushes by department stores, schools and some left-leaning states to make Christmas as generic as possible: ‘Happy holidays’ or ‘Season’s greetings’ rather than ‘Merry Christmas’; ‘holiday trees’ not ‘Christmas trees’; and no more nativity scenes or Santas.

I’m an avid supporter of multiculturalism, but can’t see how it’s served by undermining joyous and well-meaning Christian festivities.

My best ever Christmas was … they’ve never been bad, but I can’t think of one that was exceptionally good.

My favourite Christmas song is Mariah Carey’s ‘All I want for Christmas is you’. It’s pretty much been at the top of the Christmas charts since 1994 and plays into a powerful idea that the 1990s was the end of history when it comes to pop culture.

Prior to that there were distinctive Christmas songs (and distinctive music, fashion, architecture and artwork) that exemplified an era and went on to become classics. Consider Bing Crosby’s ‘White Christmas’, John and Yoko’s ‘Happy Xmas (War is Over)’ and Band Aid’s ‘Do they know it’s Christmas?’.

Since the late 1990s, the internet has given us immense choice when it comes to cultural consumption, while also making it difficult to come up with anything new. Now it’s all about mashups, remakes and reboots. So in the absence of major disruption or Western downfall, ‘All I want for Christmas is you’ will be my and our favourite Christmas tune forever.

My favourite Christmas film is … hardly surprising for fellas of my generation: Die Hard. Yippee ki yay Christmas!

I celebrate on Christmas Eve by wrapping presents.

I celebrate on Christmas Day by hanging out with family and friends. I don’t think we’ve come up with a good way to distribute presents to kids. Getting them to open one gift at a time and then give thanks takes too long and seems contrived. Just letting them loose is chaotic and unacceptable. Any tips anyone?

On Boxing Day, I am often happier than I am on Christmas Day. There’s less pressure and still much of the holidays to look forward to. I find that Christmas food, indeed most festive food, is better consumed as leftovers. It’s the only time of the year when I have prawn sandwiches and ham sandwiches in which the ham is thicker than the bread. I wish it was Boxing Day all year round.

The gift I’d most like to give this Christmas is a poem.

For Christmas this year I’d like a poem (not the one mentioned above).

Pictured above: Kim’s family circa Christmas 1979. Kim is already uncomfortable and whinging.

Would you like to join the RiotACT team in sharing your thoughts on Christmas with RiotACT readers? We’d love to read them. Please log on to the RiotACT website and choose “create article” to submit your own responses to the My Christmas cues for publication.

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12 Responses to
My Christmas: Kim Huynh
dungfungus 10:33 am 12 Dec 16

John Moulis said :

John Moulis said :

I note Westfield Woden doesn’t have a Nativity scene this year, the first time they haven’t had one. It is usually next to Santa Claus in the old Palm Court, this year there is nothing.

I returned to Westfield Woden today, two days after posting the above comment and the Nativity scene is now back there in its usual position next to Santa Claus. Oh, the power of RiotACT!

I hope you have sought forgiveness, John.

Anne Treasure 9:02 am 12 Dec 16

Kim Huynh said :

Anne Treasure said :

This has to be the most cerebral meditation on Christmas seen by The RiotACT ever. Bravo, sir.

Agree on your thoughts about ‘Happy Holidays’ over ‘Merry Christmas’, which I’ve only really begun to consider since sending my daughter to a Jewish daycare. Perhaps taking present tips from the Jewish celebration could help your present-opening dilemma though – one every day for 8 days might help?

Thanks heaps AT (Pedal Power and Cycling Canberra supremo). Looking forward to knowing more about your Christmas/festive season/summer/festivus… celebrations. I’d quite like to read more Christmas from an outsider’s or newcomer’s perspective too. FYI my thoughts on cycling are even more cerebral/wanky. KH

Even more cerebral/wanky?! I cannot wait to read them.

Kim Huynh 9:38 pm 11 Dec 16

John Moulis said :

John Moulis said :

I note Westfield Woden doesn’t have a Nativity scene this year, the first time they haven’t had one. It is usually next to Santa Claus in the old Palm Court, this year there is nothing.

I returned to Westfield Woden today, two days after posting the above comment and the Nativity scene is now back there in its usual position next to Santa Claus. Oh, the power of RiotACT!

Notwithstanding the power of the RiotACT and John Moulis, surely twas the spirit of Christmas that erected that nativity scene.

Here’s a poignant recollection of the Huynh Christmas of 1979 from Dennis Ryle who was the minister at the Ainslie Church of Christ at the time. I was only two-years-old at the time, but from all accounts it was surely my best Christmas ever….

“I’ve long come to the conclusion that the Christmas season – or any holiday season – is what we make of it. We certainly had to build it from scratch that time in 1979. Jenny & I were newlyweds, each away from our home cities for the first time at Christmas. We had to begin to build our own Christmas traditions. Many living in Canberra that week who had not joined the annual exodus back home for Christmas with their families sought to do their own thing. Hence we ended up at Tidbinbilla with 10 million flies, two Australian families and this newly arrived Vietnamese family who were valiantly trying to make sense of a strange tongue, strange food, and strange ways. As I recall the barbecue chops were burnt, the salad limp, and we ended up seeking refuge from the heat in the space tracking station. We remember it fondly and there have not been many Christmas Days since that stand out like that one!”

John Moulis 7:14 pm 11 Dec 16

John Moulis said :

I note Westfield Woden doesn’t have a Nativity scene this year, the first time they haven’t had one. It is usually next to Santa Claus in the old Palm Court, this year there is nothing.

I returned to Westfield Woden today, two days after posting the above comment and the Nativity scene is now back there in its usual position next to Santa Claus. Oh, the power of RiotACT!

Aeek 11:53 pm 10 Dec 16

Everyone, including pets that can relate, taking turns to open presents works,
Expecting kids to say thanks, not so much.

John Moulis 9:36 am 10 Dec 16

I note Westfield Woden doesn’t have a Nativity scene this year, the first time they haven’t had one. It is usually next to Santa Claus in the old Palm Court, this year there is nothing.

rommeldog56 5:37 pm 09 Dec 16

Some good observations, Kim. I fully agree with your observation about the annual attempts to make christian XMAS celebrations “generic”. Sadly, its even happening in some schools and shopping centres here. Sadly, it seems to be an annual controversy here now.

Many people are being left behind in Canberra now at an increasingly rapid rate. Housing affordability, Increases in Annual Rates (including on units 20% this year and 15% next year !), vehicle Rego and most if not all other ACT Govt charges are rapidly increasing the cost of living here beyond what many including the elderly, the homeless, the disabled, low income earners, self funded retirees, pensioners, etc, have previously been able to afford. Sadly for so many in Canberra, XMAS may not be so jolly nowdays.

So, for a decade or more now, each XMAS I purchase a gift for a young boy and a young girl and donate it to a charity to distribute. It’s not much but hopefully it will brighten up someones XMAS a little.

In the city with the highest average wage in Australia but also the 2nd highest rate of homelessness, I would encourage all Canberrian’s to do something similar this and every XMAS.

Claire 4:50 pm 09 Dec 16

It’s all in the name. I celebrate Christmas.

Kim Huynh 4:29 pm 09 Dec 16

Anne Treasure said :

This has to be the most cerebral meditation on Christmas seen by The RiotACT ever. Bravo, sir.

Agree on your thoughts about ‘Happy Holidays’ over ‘Merry Christmas’, which I’ve only really begun to consider since sending my daughter to a Jewish daycare. Perhaps taking present tips from the Jewish celebration could help your present-opening dilemma though – one every day for 8 days might help?

Thanks heaps AT (Pedal Power and Cycling Canberra supremo). Looking forward to knowing more about your Christmas/festive season/summer/festivus… celebrations. I’d quite like to read more Christmas from an outsider’s or newcomer’s perspective too. FYI my thoughts on cycling are even more cerebral/wanky. KH

justin heywood 4:08 pm 09 Dec 16

‘Die Hard’ as a Christmas movie? yikes!

‘Love Actually’ is a guilty pleasure at our place at Christmas)

justin heywood 4:07 pm 09 Dec 16

Good article Kim, and a nice story you have.

Anne Treasure 10:36 am 09 Dec 16

This has to be the most cerebral meditation on Christmas seen by The RiotACT ever. Bravo, sir.

Agree on your thoughts about ‘Happy Holidays’ over ‘Merry Christmas’, which I’ve only really begun to consider since sending my daughter to a Jewish daycare. Perhaps taking present tips from the Jewish celebration could help your present-opening dilemma though – one every day for 8 days might help?

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