Monday, December 21, 2015

Private Christmas

By Morris Dean 

The double spiral stairs at the Vatican Museum reminded me that my mother had a term for female genitalia that I had certainly not heard before when I was eight or nine, but neither have I heard it since. Mama’s term was “Christmas.”
    Which brings me to today’s Christmas-occasional piece, an excerpt from a recent NY Times Book Review article, “Aural Sex,” by Elaine Sciolino (November 20):
Last month I finished recording an audio version of my new book in four days — a full day ahead of schedule — and I was feeling pretty good about it. It helped that the audio technician at ­DuArt, a film and recording studio in Midtown Manhattan, could hear like a bat and caught every stomach gurgle. As I was about to leave, I jokingly asked the audiobook studio director if he could make the book a runaway audio best seller.
    “You should have written a smut novel,” he told me. “Those are the ones that sell”....
    At DuArt one afternoon, two actresses talked about recording sex-filled audiobooks. “You want to be taken seriously by the industry, so you create a fake name,” said a 36-year-old actress whose audio pseudonym is Jennifer Mack. “You don’t want bookers to look you up and say, ‘All she did was read porn books’”....
    Soozi Cheyenne, the pseudonym of a 53-year-old ­Detroit-born actress, said her niche is “‘urban lit,’ which means black.” She found her pseudonym by consulting an Internet site on how to pick a porn name. The first name should be a pet you once owned (it was a yellow parakeet), the surname a street you lived on....
    Reading the raunchy stuff requires stamina. “After your 15th sex scene, it becomes exhausting,” Mack said. “You can only do so many.”
    “Sometimes I go, ‘This is too early in the day for this,’ ” Cheyenne chimed in. “Sometimes the descriptions of the genitalia, like ‘love muffin’ and ‘throbbing manhood,’ send me into fits of giggles. So you take a break. You have a cigarette. You buy a salad. [read more]
Copyright © 2015 by Morris Dean


  1. I'm gratified to have already heard from a woman who also called her privates "Christmas."

  2. This woman went on to say that her mother used the term "Christmas" that way too, and she has wondered whether it was a family thing – perhaps from her mother's mother or her mother's mother's mother or....
        But, she added, "If I had had daughters I don't believe I would have continued with it. Seems a little disrespectful for what Christmas is suppose to stand for."
        I think she meant disrespectful of the tradition that Jesus's conception didn't involve anyone's interfering with Mary's "Christmas." But couldn't it have been a mark of the originating grandmother's devotion to chastity, to procreation in the manner of El Niño's immaculate conception? Her genitalia would be devoted to the Christmas ideal, not to carnal pleasure?
        So, was the originating grandmother's daughter's conception immaculate, too? Or was it simply testament of the difficulty of following the Bible's vegan ideal in a carnivorous world?

  3. So many things to say about this, but then there would be a need for much repentance.

  4. I have never heard "Christmas" used that way and could only speculate as to why the woman you referenced did. In addition to not wanting to lose or diminish the primary and sacred spiritual meaning tied to the birth of Christ, I certainly wouldn't use Christmas that way given that Christmas only comes once a year. If you just thought of Odysseus' capture by Polyphemus, you follow correctly.

    Moreover, from a biblical standpoint, chastity is only virtuous outside of marriage. Within the context of marriage chastity is an evil. Extreme pleasure is central to marital sex and should be sought and celebrated. This will include unabashed verbal expression that reflects a strong desire for the areas of human anatomy that elicit, stimulate, and heighten sexual pleasure (The Song of Solomon 2:3-4, 4:1-16, 5:9-16, 7:1-9).

    1. Ha, Patrick, your once-a-year reason for rejecting "Christmas" as a euphemism for genitalia, which a woman would be expected to want to enjoy many times even in a month – let alone in a year – is hilarious! I did not see it coming.
          And I'm thankful that you didn't say, "If you didn't just think of Odysseus' capture by Polyphemus, you didn't follow correctly," for I can't fathom any connection between this and that. I hope your explanation will be equally entertaining.

    2. Morris you are tracking correctly. The circumstances around Odysseus' killing of Polyphemus and the false name Odysseus represented himself as, is the origin of the concept of double entendre.

    3. Patrick, thank you for explaining the Homeric reference. I had not been aware that Homer's use of a pseudonym for Odysseus – "Nobody I am called by mother, father, and by all my comrades" – is thought to be the first recorded instance of a double-entendre.
          But more important to me, personally, you seem to be implying that the woman's, and her mother's (and my mother's), use of "Christmas" was as a double-entendre – rather than, as I have been assuming, a euphemism. That throws a whole new light on the matter, even suggesting that a brothel, in a society where a double-entendre "Christmas" was in vogue, might be named "The Christmas Tree" and invite prospective customers to choose which of its prostitutes to gift themselves with.
          I suppose that my mother might have been sending her eight- or nine-year-old son a subtle hint about what awaited him after puberty – sexual intercourse is as delightful as Christmas morning opening presents! That offers the intriguing possibility that my mother, far from being ashamed of sex and sexuality (and hiding references to it in euphemism), was rather comfortable and at ease with it – and was better (if subtler) at sex education than I ever gave her credit for!

    4. In MY comment (about Christmas only coming once a year) I was expressing a double entendre. As I said I could not speculate on the how the woman was using it. (Although I assumed on some level she was using it as a euphemism). But since Christmas only comes once a year, I think it to be a poor euphemism if that was what was intended.

    5. Patrick, forgive me but I had been utterly ruling out any possibility that you might utter a sexual double-entendre in a public forum like this. Hence, it didn't occur to me that your saying Christmas "came" only once a year was intended to create the image of a man ejaculating or a woman having a sexual orgasm.

    6. Morris,

      First, I'm glad I could be a little unpredictable. Second, not trying to create any images here. The beauty of double-entendre is that it shrouds the explicit. In this case, it allows reference to the carnal while remaining a friend of discretion.

    7. This has been most instructive, with promise of more instruction still to come – instruction, and mutual & self-discovery. An item of self-discovery for me is that I seem to have unconsciously associated emphatic Biblical religiosity (such as yours) with goody-goodiness. I thought of you as being too impeccable to ever intend "come" in a sexual way. Even your admission of impishly putting the onus on your reader to think the carnal thoughts is hard for me to accept as capable of coming from you.
          But accept it I must, and so discover something about you, too. You, too, have a dirty mind, though apparently more discrete than mine.
          And I think I have learned (or been reminded of) something about the Bible also. It has a few instances of men "knowing" women, meaning having sexual intercourse with them. (Do you know whether it even has an instance of "coming" in the ejaculatory or orgasmic sense?)
          Note that an interpretation of these instances as euphemistic tends to leave the Bible's goody-goodiness intact, whereas, if they were intended as double-entendres, the writers seem to have been as dirty old men as you and I are.
          One further learning that I have derived from this most instructive interchange - another item of self-discovery: If my early religious training had not insisted on the Bible's goody-goodiness, but allowed me to appreciate its earthiness, the trajectory of my life's thinking and feeling about religion might have been different. I might even have enjoyed singing "Oh come, all ye faithful" as a bawdy Christmas orgy song.

    8. Morris,

      You misunderstand me greatly. I find it hard to believe you can misconstrue what I have said so significantly. None of what I said equates to me having a "dirty mind" or me, much less the writers of Scripture, being "dirty old men" because of being willing to acknowledge the reality that sex, rightly understood, appreciated, and enjoyed will elicit numerous orgasms by both partners over the course of a year (instead of just one). There is nothing sinful, debase, or "dirty" in acknowledging this reality. Nor is there anything sinful, debase, or "dirty" in acknowledging this reality through contemporary language and expression via a double-entendre.

      There is nothing in real Christianity that would lead one to be prudish. Christians use all kinds of words and language to describe their sexual desire for their husband or wife. And me acknowledging that reality via a double-entendre in a forum as this in no way equates to how you have defined me and contextualized the discussion. Christians can discuss carnal things (things that speak to our God-given sexual appetites) and do it in ways that carry no sinful freight or connotations, as I have done.

      The Bible is light years away from the "goody-goodness" you reference while simultaneously promoting holiness and righteousness in all matters including sex. My first comment acknowledged the virtue, even necessity, of chastity outside of marriage and the sacrilege of using Christmas as a sexual euphemism while also making the point that it misrepresents sex itself in terms of how God would have us to understand it as demonstrated in the multiple verses of The Song of Solomon I referenced. Given this I don't see how you can make the juvenile, even gross, leaps you have made. Your last sentence is particularly egregious.

      Given where this discussion has gone, this will be my last comment on this thread.

    9. Notes to myself

      Is Patrick telling me to go to the devil?
          What is the meaning of "huff"?
          A root word for "religion," Latin ligo, means to bind or connect. (Wikipedia: "Modern scholars...favor the derivation from ligo 'bind, connect', probably from a prefixed re-ligare, i.e. re-(again) + ligare or 'to reconnect'....")
          It is not easy to connect across religious boundaries: A Christian evangelical who wants to prove his right[eous]ness by "saving your soul." A settled apostate who sometimes wants to tease the psychological roots of your professions of faith.
          What would be a good word for religious boundaries' unbinding or disconnecting people?
          Did I earlier underestimate Patrick's seeming sense of perfection?
          What have I underestimated about myself?

    10. Another note to myself

      With respect to religion's failure to bind people together, a couple of particularly divisive notions are (1) that there is one biblical understanding ​("the biblical understanding") and (2) that there is a "real Christian​ity," and "real Christian​s" ​– versus unreal or fake ones​?
          In our culturally diverse world, such notions do not bind people together, but divide them and make it harder for them to connect.
          Such beliefs might bind together the subset of people who happen to subscribe to them (the subset of "real Christians"), and this might have been an original use of religion, in tribes and other small collections of people where the priests had the power to enforce orthodoxy. But in the intertwined world we inhabit today, such insular, self-serving beliefs are profoundly divisive.

    11. What a cruel "binding together," to be forced by priests to [seem to] assent to their orthodoxy and perform their prescribed rituals....

    12. How does a person come to regard himself as one of the "real Christians," as one of the cognoscenti who are privy to "the biblical understanding" of this or that? What's the pay-off for such a person, what does he get out of it? The historical conjecture about religion's "binding together" the members of a tribe where the priests had the power to enforce orthodoxy suggests that such a person might fancy himself a member of the priestly class, enforcing orthodoxy by whatever means available, including parental authority or official status in a church – or unofficial status, if the person is extraordinarily well informed as to biblical chapter and verse and articulate in debate, maybe even somewhat charismatic in personality. Such an intellectually armed and personally powerful person might be expected to enjoy success in converting others to his way of thinking and believing (without their even feeling that they have been "cruelly forced"). Such a person would derive a sense of power and attainment from the enterprise. And while he believes that salvation comes only through Christ, he is also aware that his converts might never have been awarded salvation if he had not approached and converted them, so that, in a very real, practical sense, he was their salvation, he saved them.
          Pretty heady stuff, rich nourishment for enhancing his self-esteem. And, theoretically, he and his fellow "priests" might convert the whole world, establishing their own view of things as dominant and practically undeniable: everyone in the world a "real Christian," all in step with "the biblical understanding." A Christian caliphate.

  5. Members of my family and I have been having fun discussing this. Our latest "theory" is that this use of "Christmas" may have come about because the birth of a child (especially around Christmas time) is often referred to as a "gift from Santa Claus" and, of course, a woman's genitalia are involved – both in a child's conception and in its delivery.
        It's a bit sad that I'll never really know why my mother referred to her genitalia as her "Christmas." But it gladdens me to imagine that her spirit is out there somewhere and she might be attending to this commentary.

  6. To those new to Blogger: Blogger can seem daunting to new commenters. Many commenters just select "Comment as" Anonymous and "sign" their name in the body of their comment. Or select "Comment as" Name/URL" and give their name in the "Name" field (leaving the "URL" field blank). In any case, ALWAYS copy the text of your comment to the pasteboard prior to clicking "Preview" or "Publish," in case the comment goes into "Google Land," and you need to re-enter it. (I always do this myself.)