And so the madness begins. In fact, began after Halloween, when the sterile shopping malls were already churning out the insipid carols and our whole sickness of consumption ratcheted up ten fold. People cursing in crowded parking lots, fighting each other in Black Friday Walmart stampedes, all the stress and anxiety and tension of buying presents for the kiddies or spouses or office workers that they might think they want, but often don’t and certainly don’t need and the planet keeps choking on plastic and discarded Barbies. The extra stress of the Christmas card list, the weird antiquated so-last-century displeasure of standing in lines at post offices, who usually have two people working behind the counter, but at the Christmas rush, change it to—one. Signing cards and getting copies of the photos of the fam and sending it off to people who you don’t care about enough to get in touch with more than once a year. And then having to read the Holiday newsletters of Jimmy’s soccer practices and how cute Tanisha was in her pink kitten ballet show and Darrell’s work going well and his volunteer Bible study group and Betsy’s taking up knitting and how they all love the i-Phone 10. Really?! Who cares?!! And don’t get me started on the Peace on Earth hype while we keep letting the NRA sell assault rifles to looney mass killers and our very own Godless leader posts hate videos about Muslims and fantasy murders of CNN reporters. Christmas is coming and the goose is not the only one getting fat and please to put a penny in this old man’s hat because I’ll need after paying the December credit card bill. So there you have it—hypocrisy, enough stress to create a new syndrome—Holiday trauma— rabid consumption, overeating, Santa hats covered in vomit on your doorstep (happened to a friend of mine yesterday after the Santa Pub Crawl), too many parties that just aren’t that fun, the mandatory sappy Christmas movies, and Jingle Bells up the whazoo.
And I love it.
Really, I do. One of the few times when fellow citizens actually know some of the words and melodies to songs beyond Happy Birthday, the city aglow with the glitter of lights (including, of course, the Hanukkah menorahs), that sense of anticipation, the tiny tots with their eyes all glow and despite all the commercialism and efforts to trivialize it, for me at least, a sense of magic in the air. Some of the music—both American and European—is genuinely beautiful and the pleasure of thinking about your loved ones and what little gift would be just right for who they are and what they want to move their wonderful self forward an inch is real. And yes, I’m not in touch with my childhood friend during the year, but the annual card gives me a moment of fond remembrance. And though it’s absurd to call ceasefires during Christmas and then go back to killing each other and robbing each other and hurting each other in the name of Christ (or other deities, take your pick), hey, I’ll take two weeks of Peace on Earth anytime. And I’m happy to sit with hot cider and popcorn and be artistically reminded that it indeed is a wonderful life and there are miracles on 34th Street and beyond and Tiny Tim still might get the health care he needs and the dreamer support in spite of all current efforts to the contrary.
And so the festivity begins. Happy Holidays!