Wednesday, December 16, 2009

It's beginning to stink a lot like Christmas

"It doesn't mean anything to me at all. I hate Christmas. I think it's just a racket for the shopkeepers and everyone else. Everyone sings 'Goodwill to all mankind' for one day, then they're back to being at each other's throats."
While monitoring a Northern Irish television channel at work, I came across this snipet of a man being interviewed in what I'm guessing is Belfast during what I'm also guessing is the '80s. I presume the station is replaying this vox prop as a laugh, but it hit home with me. Considering this was Ulster during a time when the Troubles were still rife, the man's bah-humbug attitude could be forgiven. But you don't need to be living in the midst of two warring sects to agree with his point of view. After all, his observation is an astute one with respect to Christmas and people in general.
Yep, here it is, mid-December and society is pushing that giant poop called Christmas-time out of its collective posterior and there's no escaping the eye-watering stink.
Look, I like Christmas Eve and Christmas day. At our household, they go by quietly, and that's as I like it. No having to pretend to be festive at a big family get-together. My worst nightmare is sitting in the midst of snoring elders and rambunctious children, bored with every single thing playing on the television and wishing I could be anywhere else. I'd rather spend Christmas at a sanitation company's transfer station than to find myself in that situation.
It's the whole fake bonhomie and camaraderie that I hate. This expectation by all and sundry that I should—that I have to—be joyous and full of the cheer that I just ain't feeling. If I'm having a bad day during the Christmas season, then, damnit, I won't hide the fact. And I'm not going out of my way to put on my party hat "just because it's Christmas."
Dragons don't play that game.
I have no problem with giving either, but as long as it's within the limits of my bank account and I'm not expected to acrue charges on my credit card that will take me till I'm 75 to pay off. I just want to bomb every single retailer whose mindset is that I should be happy to trot around their store, humming Christmas tunes while forking over money that I'd much rather be saving.
And I'm not gorging myself on food "just because." I'd much rather remain on the slim side, and if that's being a bah-humbug, than I'm wicked proud of it.
Spend, spend, spend. Eat, eat, eat. Smile, smile, smile. It's like this every year; the message never changes. Believe me, by the time you've hit the big four-oh (and I have), Christmas has long since ceased to be magical.
Garrison Keillor's recent column about Christmas-time in New York is a case in point. I'm not fond of Keillor—he's a liberal dweeb—but I totally agree with him when he writes, "Christmas is a joyful time, or so we're told, but a person gets tired of enforced joyfulness, especially when it's Wal-Mart and Amazon doing the prompting, and you sort of appreciate a little anger to season the season," and "Christmas has some opposition there [New York]. And people don't stifle themselves just because the Messiah is on the way."
Keillor provides a sampling:
"In New York people can express anger in a frank and open way, Christmas or no Christmas, and surely this is a good thing. A man in a big gray SUV was outraged that I stepped off the curb on West 43rd Street and walked in front of his vehicle and he went to the trouble of rolling his window down and shouting the name of a bodily orifice. 'Use the sidewalk!' he said. I pointed out that his behemoth was blocking the sidewalk. 'So? What's wrong with waiting, Orifice?'"
Suddenly, I'm very fond of New Yorkers. They're keeping it real. Give them that much. Of course, mind you, I never noticed much difference when I lived in Boston either; and I certainly don't notice the difference here in London. And you know what? I'm happy with it. That makes me, if not cheerful, then on the right side of sanguine. I'd much rather people be the usual pains-in-the-asses that they always are as opposed to ringing a bell in my face, wanting to hug me or whatever other stupid bull that any Christmas-addled loony may want to dish out.
I'm all for trying to keep Christmas Eve and Christmas itself merry. But please remember that the "private parts rule" applies here. Keep it to yourself and reserve it only for your most nearest-and-dearest.

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