A few years ago I stopped doing Christmas. No cards, no decorations, no cookie baking, just a few presents bought mostly online, so no mall shopping. It was liberating.
If you really enjoy doing those things that’s fine, but I had come to think of the Christmas season as an ordeal. I remember one Christmas day I was so exhausted I spent most of the day napping while the kids played with their new presents. Once the chicks had flown the nest, I just stopped doing it. Maybe someday I’ll take Christmas-ing up again, but now I’m happier blowing it off.
Still, there’s no escaping it. Even the neighborhood nail salon run by cheerful Vietnamese ladies has swapped its usual piped-in romantic oldies for really awful Christmas pop music, including endless variations of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “The Little Drummer Boy.” It is painful.
Again, if you actually like the tinsel and the shopping and listening to Jimmy Boyd sing “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” while you stand in line to get a present wrapped, I’m happy for you. Enjoy. Just leave me out of it.
Christmas season is now officially upon us. The best thing I can say so far is that nobody was trampled to death on so-called Black Friday. The worst thing that’s happened so far is that a man dressed as a clown had a heart attack and died during the Macy’s Parade, which I never watch.
(An onlooker said “I saw that, he was acting a little funny before he died.”)
Yet amid these protests, people still talked about feeling powerless beneath the moment — as if they had no choice but to shop.
“You have to have these things to enjoy your children and your family,” said Jackson’s friend Ebony Jones, who had secured two laptops ($187.99 each) for her 7 and 11 year olds.
Why must we buy? To demonstrate our love for others? To add a few more inches to our televisions? To help America recover from a vicious recession that itself was born of the desire for more?
Such questions make Jones wince. “It shouldn’t be that way, but in a sense there’s no way around it,” said Jones, a nurse. “Everything ends up with a dollar amount. Even your happiness.”
The black, rotting heart of American consumerism, indeed.
That said, I do not consider myself to be anti-Christmas. I contribute in my own way. I have sung in more Christmas Handel’s Messiahs than I can count. This year the chorale is doing a Bach advent cantata (the great “Wachet Auf”) plus the exquisite Christmas Oratorio by Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns. Yes, I am actually conspiring to lure people into a church to listen to sacred music of the season, when they could be using that time to shop. Shoot me.
But by Fox News standards, I’m the enemy. To them, the meaning of Christmas is forcing everyone to say “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays,” even if they aren’t Christian, or merry. I think of them as the Noel Nazis.
Christmas has become a monstrous beast made of avarice covered in cheap glitter. And every year the beast eats December, and much of November, and I don’t see it making many people over the age of 12 or so very happy. Mostly it just makes them greedy and frantic. If it could be chopped down to a reasonable size it would be so much nicer.
And if the piped-in music would at least include some traditional carols and not the pop-muzak crap, I’d be happier, too. I might even sing along with them. I love the old, traditional Christmas carols, and I hardly ever hear them any more, much less get to sing them.
If there are any devout Christians out there who would like to start a war to take Christmas back from Walmart, please do so. I’ll contribute to the cause.