Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Christmas Ho-Hum

Time for a Christmas ramble. Put on your seatbelts, folks, I’m all over the place on this one, so try and keep up.

I’m no Scrooge; just to be clear. I’m not the Grinch, not this time of year. But I’m just not into Christmas this year, and I can’t figure out why. I’m wearing a red shirt. I wrapped a gift tonight and I’m watching a cooking show about how to make the perfect fruit cake (“Good Eats” Alton Brown, you're so funny). I even ate Christmas cookies not twenty minutes ago, but for some reason, December 25th, to me, seems just like another day on the calendar. I even have an freelance article due that day… yeah, on Christmas day. Sure, the weather’s cold, somewhat, and for Southern California, that’s a big deal. But, I think it could snow little frozen snowmen and pictures of jolly Saint Nick and the Christmas magic wouldn’t beam into my heart (that’s indeed two sizes too big…and no, I don’t have cardiomegaly).

The house is decorated, but just barely. There’s plenty around to let you know that it’s not Halloween, at least, but we’ve done better previous years. Half-assed is a good description, and I shrugged indifferently during much of the process. Stoic impassiveness takes its toll. I hate decorating, flat out, but worse than that, I hate putting lights on the tree. Is it enough that I dragged the thing in from outside, and didn’t I do enough to make sure that it is only slightly leaning to the left this year, and didn’t I say I would make sure it was watered so it doesn’t burst into flames like a Roman candle? Isn’t that enough, so that I don’t have to give the tree several prickly hugs while wrapping it with hundreds of tiny lights, only to have Kara look at it, cock her head to one side and curl up her lip with some suggestions for improvement. To her credit, she couldn’t have cared less about the lights, I think. And wouldn’t if figure that I bought the wrong kind of lights? Groan. I’m not going back to Target for more, that’s for sure, even though, for some inexplicable reason, all the Christmas stuff is already on a 30-percent clearance aisle. It was as if it was a couple of days after Christmas instead of a few days before.

Our bedroom looks like a Christmas factory has exploded and all that remains is that stuff they broom up after an industrial accident and throw away into some kind of HAZMAT-labeled barrels. Yeah, it’s that bad, so much so that I’m not 100 percent sure if it is even all of our stuff. Did the neighbors come over and dump a bucket of Christmas crap on our bedroom floor and then steal into the night like sneaking bandits? Where did we get an ornament with Santa giving me the finger? I don’t remember that one, and I’m saddened that I have to pack all of the stuff up again in two weeks and haul the boxes off to the attic. Not that I’m disappointed that Christmas has ended, no, I’m disappointed that they’re so damn heavy…and there’s seven of them. We’re not nearly old enough to have seven boxes of Christmas decorations, and I fear the Christmas 10 years from now, as all I’m going to have to do to get the decorations out of the attic is kick down a support beam and 37 boxes will crash through the ceiling and into the living room. Natalie got into the boxes, of course, deciding that all of the stockings needed to be friends and that the Little People Santa needed to hide somewhere, maybe until Valentine’s Day (and if I were Santa, that’s what I think I’d want to do about this time of year). Really, the Little People Mrs. Claus is worried; she sent out a search party of Little People elves and they haven’t yet returned. I’m sorried

But, for me, Christmas hasn’t come yet and I don’t know where it is; or if its even coming. Sure, I’m smacked in the face with it every time I turn on the television (I’m smacked with a lot of stuff when I turn on the TV, but Christmas is the biggest offender now, as each commercial is telling me that I can find the perfect gift for anyone if I only give them lots of money); well, that isn’t that accurate, as I’m told to have a wonderful season or a happy holiday, so I’m not sure what to think about it. With trepidation, I observe the strange fact that these commercials look like Christmas commercials—there’s a Santa, a tree, stockings, a disturbingly multi-cultural group of people opening gifts like it is the most joyous thing in the world—but I just don’t see Christmas. I see an unnamed holiday…and the whole season (all three months of it) is recognized.

And we’re supposed to greet it.

And it’s not like I’m too busy to celebrate Christmas or to embrace the king of all holidays. I’ve got lots of time right now to go out into the world and interact with the populous, and you’d think, during all this communal action I’ve participated in lately, at least one of them would wish me a “Merry Christmas.” So far, not a one. Not even a “Season’s Greetings” from the lot of them, and I would have remembered that: For one, I would have cringed at the diluted politically correct dampness of the phrase “Season’s Greetings,” and for two, I would have shot back a “Merry Christmas” to remind them that Christmas is what it is all about.

It only took a couple of paragraphs this time, but I think I’ve figured it out: Whiney, bleeding heart pacifists who are afraid to wish me a Merry Christmas because they might offend someone within ear shot are bringing me down this year. Where on television have you heard someone say “Merry Christmas?” The news? Nope. Commercials for big-box stores? Nope. TV show promos? Not a one. How about in the newspapers? Heaven forbid any of those lefties let on that there is such an entity as God, but it doesn’t stop them from having a Christmas party… but maybe they call it a holiday party, which is fine, but corner one of them and ask “what holiday?”

That’s the gist of the whole thing, I feel. What holiday? “Happy Holidays” someone tells you. “Season’s Greetings” another adds. What holiday am I supposed to be happy with, and which season is this? Why do we greet a season? I think I’ll start saying “Season’s Greetings” in the Spring. It makes more sense to me. Spring is the season of rebirth. Butterflies emerge from their cocoons. Baby cubs are born. Grass grows out through the last snow. We should greet them. Somebody should.

And there’s another thing. Season’s Greetings is an euphemism for Merry Christmas—they mean Merry Christmas when they say Season’s Greetings, so why don’t they just say it? I don’t like it when people say shoot when they really mean shit or when they say darn it when they mean damn it. What are they hiding? I know what they mean. Instead of me calling someone from the South with a mullet and a 1978 Pontiac Firebird a redneck? He is. It’s obvious. But instead, I might hurt his feelings, so I have to call him demographically challenged.

Yet, I can’t say Merry Christmas because I might offend an atheist who doesn’t believe in Christ, and me merely saying Merry Christmas reminds him that December 25th is celebrating the date we believe that Christ was born (though he probably wasn’t). Why should I care about offending him? Why, as a society, do we cater to all the tiny squeaky wheels in this world? Why should the companies that produce the commercials that I watch care about that? I think they may need to be offended. Some people need their feelings hurt; it lets them know that they aren’t the only people in the world, and in a democracy, the majority should rule. Go cry to God about it if you don’t like it.

There was an episode of “The Simpsons” where Milhouse’s dad was being fired from the cracker factory and the boss was explaining how the cracker business is a family business. He says something to the effect of: “Families eat crackers. Sure, single people may eat them too. We don’t know. In fact, we don’t want to know. Frankly, it’s a segment of the market we could do without.” That’s the attitude companies should have in regards to Christmas. If they don’t want to celebrate Christmas, then they’re not going to by Christmas presents. I can’t imaging a menorah company saying “Happy Holidays” in their advertisements in the hopes of not offending anyone not associated with Chanukah. They’re going to say “Happy Chanukah” because people that don’t celebrate Chanukah aren’t in the market for a menorah.

It’s like they want us to experience all that Christmas has to offer earlier and earlier each year but they don’t want us to talk about what we’re celebrating. Just give us the money while we finish fleecing you and get ready for Valentine’s day. It’s like going horseback riding where nobody ever talks about the horse. Sure, the owner of the dude ranch is happy because you gave him loads of money to ride the X-orse, and we’re having a great X-orse ride, but Heavens no, don’t mention the X-orse, otherwise you might upset the cowboys or the shepherds.

So, that leads me to believe that Christmas has no purpose anymore. The actual holiday is becoming less and less important, so much so, that we should start doing it in June. At least we could go to the beach and have a bonfire and exchange gifts and it won’t be so cold. Really, what’s the point? We don’t go to church to hear about the real story of Christmas, if you subscribe to the “real” story of Christmas. I haven’t been to a Christmas party yet—a real one--and haven’t in years. You know, where everyone wears those stupid antler headgear, snowman sweaters, eats Christmas-shaped cookies while trying to trick that cute girl to stand under the mistletoe. I don’t remember the last time carolers donned my doorstep and lullabied me with quaint Christmas songs… wait a minute. Do you know why Christmas Carolers have gone the way of the dodo? That’s right, Christmas songs are religious, and we’d sure hate to stroll up to the Schwartzman’s house and start bellowing out “Little Town of Bethlehem.” I’d hate to offend the Schwartzmans, but they don’t seem to mind to put the Star of David in their window, right?

Wouldn’t our faces be red, and that’s the sad part about Christmas these days. People have self-segregated themselves based on their religion, so badly that there are so many different camps around the world, each one secretly celebrating their own thing without pride, joy, happiness and camaraderie. The Jews have Chanukah, the blacks have their made-up Kwanzza, Christians have their Christmas… but everyone have a Happy Holiday. We’re just not telling you which one to have, because you’re not responsible and socially graceful enough to discern the differences that make this a unique and wonderful world.

Who cares if there are different ways of celebrating Christmas. The point is doing it, and if you don’t like the religious connotations to the holiday, who cares? I don’t. It’s all Christmas, whether you call it Chanukah or Kwanza or whatever. I’m just sick of hearing about it. It’s all Christmas in the same sense of the word, and if we can cater to the blacks and the Jews, we can cater to the Christians. But nothing pisses me off more than seeing “X-mas” in writing. I’m not a religious person, but at least I understand that without Christ, you wouldn’t have Christmas, and if you celebrate Christmas in any way, you celebrate Christ.

Jesus people. All I wanted was a “Merry Christmas” from someone on the street. One simple freakin’ “Merry Christmas,” just to let me know that the whiners and the bitching minority in our lopsided out-of-whack society haven’t completely squeezed out all that is special and warm and meaningful in the day that is turning out to be just another reason to spend some money.

Joy to us. Maybe Christmas will come to me someday soon.


Brian said...

Merry Christmas Ryan!

Raquel said...

Ryan, I see your point however, don't let it affect you inside. What's most important is teaching your children what Christmas is all about and that's celebrating the life of Christ, his birthday. Don't let them get caught up in the whole gifts galore. You should spend Christmas Eve reading what Christmas is all about from the bible and then you will feel the Christmas spirit again.


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