Christmas According to Tyler Dawson, Ottawa Citizen

I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday for 2019. It’s over now, so it will be another year before you can go through all that stress and financial outlay again, but rest easy because I have put together a list of do’s and don’ts to simplify Christmas cheer for 2020. I read an article from the Ottawa Citizen by Tyler Dawson who also had some helpful hints, but I’m sorry to say, I thought they were somewhat lacking in options as well as insight. So I’m going to jump on that trainwreck and make a track change which I think resolves the whole question of what not to do at Christmas perfectly.

Dawson’s first critique was the tree. He decried the use of real trees and supported the plastic tree option. I must admit, peeps, this is a sticky wicket indeed. I mean, I have had plastic or some other type of material trees all my life. It’s certainly easier: it’s always at hand to put up at a whim; it costs nothing once you’ve purchased it initially; it often comes with built in lights; it doesn’t drop needles or dry out; it saves a tree life. However, it does not biodegrade. Once it’s cast off by a family for a new, improved fake tree, it will sit in landfill forever and ever. Not good.

Real trees on the other hand, are more work but they do break down when it’s all over and go back whence they came over a short amount of time. Yes, you have to trudge all through the bush to find the perfect one, but you can make that family time peeps, create Christmas memories. And I’m not advocating running around the pristine wilderness cutting random trees either: there are farms designed for this where trees are grown with this purpose in mind. It’s a plant-based commodity rather like soy beans or corn. So the environment is safe and we are not losing valuable trees, keeping our air quality in top notch condition. Ahem.

What do I do? I DO NOTHING! I don’t have a tree. I have a few little Christmas decorations which I pop up and down easily, keep forever, and store easily in my cupboard. I’m done with the plastic tree forever, and I’m not about to sully my platform stiletto boots wandering through Farmer Joe’s Christmas Tree Farm either. Decorate your trees outside peeps. They are already there, already set up, and already pretty. Problem Solved.

Dawson’s next point was Christmas Themed Gifts. He states they will be up for a couple of days then packed away for a whole year, not to be enjoyed by the recipient until the next Christmas season.

He’s right, peeps!

In my experience, you buy Christmas-themed gifts when you don’t know what else to buy the recipient but you have to turn up with something. It’s either chocolates or Christmas-themed items. Peeps, if you are ever in this bind, and believe me, we have all been there, give the gift of chocolate. Everyone likes it, it’s cheap, it’s everywhere – even late at night in corner stores. If they can’t eat it, they will still use it for their guests and will be like “Good thing so-and-so brought me these chocolates, now I have something I can put out for these unexpected guests.” Chocolates for the win, peeps. Problem Solved.

He next mentions Gift Cards. He is not against them, but he does suggest using some discernment in choosing one. I say: Don’t knock the gift cards, peeps! It’s like the chocolate – you might think it’s mundane and lazy but it can always be used and it’s always appreciated. Now do I think a gift card is an appropriate stand alone gift for the love of your life? Not if you ever want to have sex again, BUT as a stocking stuffer, or gift for kids, coworkers, nieces/nephews, grandchildren – HELL YEAH! Back in the day there were no gift cards, there was cash. When someone handed me that white envelope, I knew it contained a card with cash, and a quiver of excitement ran through me because I knew where I was going the next day: TO THE MALL!

So when the perfect gift for that beloved family member is eluding you, go gift card. Problem Solved.

Now here is where Dawson and I differ greatly: Acceptable Christmas Movies. He feels only the original Grinch Who Stole Christmas and National Lampoons Christmas Vacation hold any merit in the Christmas Movie question. I beg to differ.

The two choices by Dawson are absolute must watches for the season, but there’s more. A Christmas Carol (1951 with Alistair Sim). Peeps, it’s Christmas and ghosts all rolled into one. The appearance of Jacob Marley and the Ghost of Christmas Future was enough, as a child, to keep me sleepless for nights on end. If you haven’t watched this version, you haven’t really had Christmas.

the ghost of Christmas Future, A Christmas Carol with Alistair Sim

White Christmas, with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye, the quintessential Christmas movie: lavish dancing and singing, hollywood costumes, humour, and heartfelt solidarity erupting into the purest form of the spirit of Christmas, make this movie a fundamental holiday favourite.

White Christmas

Next, A Christmas Story, a Canadian classic, filmed right here in St. Catharines, Ontario epitomizes the life of a middle class family during the Christmas season. The excitement of anticipation for the much desired gift, the pre-Christmas family machinations which all of us of a certain age have experienced – maybe that’s the problem, Dawson is perhaps of an age where these innocent perspectives of by-gone days is long gone. I’m sorry, Tyler, you missed out – big time.

And let’s not forget A Peanut Christmas, Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, Home Alone, Elf, Miracle on 34th Street, It’s a Wonderful Life – even Die Hard! The list goes on. There are literally hundreds of worthwhile Christmas movies to entertain yourself silly through the season. Boredom level – Zero. Problem Solved.

Christmas Music is next on the list of Don’ts according to Dawson. Well, I like it. And I worked at Zellers back in the day when they played the same CD over and over again and I STILL LIKE IT! No issues with the Christmas Music here.

The Food is next, with of course, the vegan issue of not eating the flesh of a tortured sentient being of paramount importance. He mentioned we shouldn’t eat ham because pigs are cute, while emphasizing turkeys are not, and therefore deserve to be eaten. So he obliquely inferred the cuteness level of an animal is the standard by which we should judge who gets eaten and who isn’t – but I bet he loves his bacon, even though he admitted pigs are too cute to eat. He literally makes no sense on this subject so why should we listen to anything else he says?

Esther and Cornelius at Happily Ever Esther Farm & Sanctuary. I think turkeys are cute. Picture: found online, no copyright infringement intended.

Instead he waxed philosophical against potatoes (almost everyone’s favourite food) and yams (what the fuck is a yam anyway?) and sweet potatoes (not my fav but I’ll accept they are highly nutritious and beneficial on the Christmas table). I’ll wager Dawson has never actually COOKED a full-on Christmas dinner for upwards of 15 people on a yearly basis for 35 years so, quite frankly peeps, I suggest not listening to him on the subject of food AT ALL.

However, he seems to be most knowledgeable on the subject of the “Kids Table” which is where he probably was while all the cooking was going on, and also where he got the notion that mashed potatoes sucked.

But Rock on, Tyler!

The True Story of the Christmas Turkey

Our family used to have turkey only twice a year: Thanksgiving and Christmas, with mum’s special sausage stuffing and a creamy, savoury gravy – having it so rarely made it extra special. As adults, we followed the same recipe and the same rules, and that made the Turkey Dinner the star of the show.

In fact, turkeys are very intelligent creatures with distinct personalities. They can fly at 55 miles per hour, run up to 35 miles per hour, and can live for up to 10 years under natural conditions. Like all animals, they are sentient, and can feel pain, fear and stress. Farmers have labelled them dumb, hence the sobriquet “turkey” is usually used to insult someone, inferring lower intelligence, but studies have shown they are misunderstood in that when they don’t do what the farmer wants they are labelled “stupid” or “unintelligent”.

Well if not listening to an abuser makes them “stupid” then I am in good company!

The turkey on the Christmas platter was more than likely raised in a dark battery with no space to move, crammed in with other broiler birds. He was fed hormones and gmo grains to plump him up to an unusually meaty size so we can have lots of white breast meat, which caused him to be unable to support his weight, leaving him lying in his own feces, being trampled on by other oversize birds. Because of their tight quarters, their beaks are cut off, along with a portion of their toes, and also males may have their fleshy snood cut off – all without benefit of anaesthesia.

This is meant to prevent them damaging each other while they are confined and grown to optimum size for slaughter. Within five short months a turkey can weight up to 40 lbs, due to genetic manipulation – 56 per cent larger than those produces in the 60s. This means, due to their gargantuan size, they are unable to perform like a normal turkey in the wild: they cannot fly, often cannot walk, and certainly can’t procreate. Hence, artificial insemination is used to get turkey babies.

This is not a pristine, hygienic procedure as we might imagine. Basically, females are held upside down, while someone shoves their hand with a tube or syringe into their vent and inseminates them. A worker in Missouri was quoted as saying, ” I have never done such hard, dirty, disgusting work in my life: 10 hours of pushing birds, grabbing birds, wrestling birds, jerking them upside down, pushing open their vents, dodging their panic-blown excrement and breathing the dust stirred up by terrified birds.”

And once again, don’t think because you purchased ‘organic’ or ‘free range’ that your turkey was living in a meadow, frolicking and cavorting with the other barnyard buddies. Nope. All this means is the food was a little different and the shed they were kept in had no cages, just open floor, giving them a little more room to defecate on each other, step on each other, and breath in more ammonia fumes and dirt.

You may not realize, at the time of slaughter, most birds are suffering from … “painful respiratory diseases and eye disorders, including swelling of the eyelids, discharge, clouding and ulceration of the cornea, and even blindness. There is a high rate of viral and bacterial infections, …” according to ezine Free From Harm.

And if this isn’t bad enough, Mercy for Animals reports animals also suffer from “workers kicking and stomping on birds, dragging them by their fragile wings and necks, and maliciously throwing turkeys onto the ground or on top of other birds; birds suffering from serious untreated illnesses and injuries, including open sores, infections, and broken bones; and workers grabbing birds by their wings or necks and violently slamming them into tiny transport crates with no regard for their welfare.”

Yes, folks, your turkey probably had some kind of viral lung infection, most likely some sort of skin infection filled with pus from the filth, was not treated, and then you ate it, seasoned with all those GMOs and a few kicks in the head.

After living this five months or so of abuse, they are shipped to the slaughterhouse, where they are dipped in an electric water bath and HOPEFULLY stunned enough so their throats can be more easily cut, and again HOPEFULLY after that, they are actually dead so that the boiling water they are next dumped in to remove their feathers easier doesn’t hurt them – because, you know – we want to kill them humanely. Often, however, they are not dead by the time they reach the boiling vats. It’s estimated more than 1 million turkeys are boiled alive each year.

So much for that humane death.

What does this tell you? Well I know what it tells me: We care more for rapists, pedophiles, and serial killers on death row, criminals who have committed egregious acts, in terms of humane death than we do for the innocent beings on this earth.

I’m including a link here which has a video of such a turkey facility, right here in Ontario. Hybrid Turkeys is the second largest producer of turkeys in the world – so chances are, yours came from there. In this plant, workers abused the turkeys in front of management, but when a hidden camera exposed the brutality, management was quoted as saying it was an isolated incident, and the workers were let go.

Don’t kid yourself. None of this is isolated or unusual, and it’s not limited to just turkeys and chickens. I urge you – no, I implore you – to watch the video, as horrific as it is, and then tell me you can eat your turkey on Christmas Day without a thought as to how it got there.

Hybrid Turkeys, Ontario – undercover video

Merry Christmas.