michelel72 (michelel72) wrote,

The "holidays" and secret Santa fic exchanges

I'll admit, I was a little wary of the SGA Secret Santa fic exchange. Folk who know me personally know that I have an aversion to Christmas in general, for a variety of reasons; I don't ask anyone else not to celebrate it, but I do require that they not force me to do so.

(ETA: That doesn't mean I'm at all ungrateful or resentful of folk who've given me small tokens! If part of your celebration includes little tokens of friendship, such as LJ gifts or holiday cards, that's totally cool and I do appreciate it, and I hope I don't come across as a bad friend for not doing the same or not always responding in a timely manner ....)

What's that got to do with fic? Well, one of the more common narrative tropes I've seen is the redeeming of the Grinch/Scrooge figure. That's problematic anyway, because the terms have been appropriated and mutated by the enforced-celebration crowd. In the original text, the Grinch aggressively tried to destroy the celebration of others, not politely decline to participate or ask that the celebrants keep their celebration to themselves; Scrooge lacked charity and empathy in total and took it out on those around him, though granted the tool for that was Christmas.

In too many shows, books, films, and fics, I've seen the one character who doesn't actively participate shunned as a Scrooge or Grinch and then harrassed ceaselessly until he or she caves, dons the Party Rictus, and marches along. One of us. That isn't fun or rewarding; that's fucking annoying, and it makes me resent Christmas (as well as "Oh, no, you don't have to celebrate Christmas precisely, don't be silly, but you still have to embrace and epitomize the spirit of a winter party with specific attributes that might as well be Christmas!") all the more. In SGA fics, I've seen this take form with Rodney McKay, the character who for whatever reason I most prefer, being nagged and harrassed and ceaselessly badgered to confess his Secret Childhood Trauma so that he'll stop being such a meanie to everyone for disrupting or even halting work for a good month or so.

(This post, found via metaquotes, expresses at least a part of this quite well, though the direction is different.)

All this is to say that I've been pleasantly surprised by the exchange this year. I haven't read all the stories, mind, but I don't think I've yet seen a single one that fits this trope. The one exception I can remember had John and Rodney competing to show the most "Christmas spirit" and showed just how horrifying that was for the bystanders.

It's actually quite refreshing. I am relieved and pleasantly surprised.

(One story — not in the exchange, but run across by me at about the same time — even had Rodney sympathetically allowing reasonable displays and standing up to those who mocked him as a Grinch for placing any limits. Most folks in the labs wore bells and snickered to find Rodney's mood and concentration decaying as they jingled, jingled, jingled all day long; rather than shipping them all to the mainland as I would have done after only a day of ceaseless tintinnabulation, he crafted silencers for the bells, telling everyone they could keep their bells but simply had to muffle them in the lab. If I hadn't loved him before that point, I would have loved him for that.)
Tags: curmudgeon, fanfic_meta

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