the week that was 5

The big news this week was black.  As in, Friday. Millions of Americans abandoned their Thanksgiving turkeys mid-meal to crowd local malls in a bid to snatch up ten dollar panini presses and 99 cent poinsettias. Unlike the pro-abortion homosexual 9/11 American-hating terrorists at K-Mart who opened their doors on turkey day at 8 am, family-values store Walmart resisted the siren-call of consumerism…opening their doors at 6 pm.  I suppose this makes Walmart better than K-Mart because, really, if you haven’t finished your holiday meal and lapsed into a post-turkey coma by 6 o’clock on Thanksgiving then clearly you must be a pro-abortion homosexual 9/11 American-hating terrorist.

Despite our pro-choice homosexual leanings, my family displayed patriotic superiority waiting until 9 am on Friday to hit the malls.  And while we did miss out on buying a bunch of junk we didn’t need, we did score some great deals on a bunch of junk we really wanted.

After doing our part to keep the economy from teetering off yet another fiscal cliff, we made our annual pilgrimage an hour north of the city to a Christmas tree farm.  Todd and I have been cutting down our own trees for more than a decade now, introducing Chris to the tradition last year.  It’s a comfort to know that nothing changes and every year is the same: Five minutes after we arrive Chris will fall into an icy mud puddle then Todd and I will fight then someone will cry then someone else will storm off in tears and then just when we think it can’t get any worse someone will suggest the other two go “fuck off”.  (FYI: We’re working on curtailing Chris’s potty mouth.)

Of course none of that unpleasantness matters because at the end of the day we gather around our beautifully decorated tree in matching handmade sweaters, sipping homemade cocoa and eating artisan-crafted Christmas cookies.*


It was another week of celebrity retweets, unsourced reposts, and copy-and-paste Wikipedia MLK quotes on Facebook as New York upstaged Missouri. Considering the amount of hand wringing in my news feed, I was a bit surprised when a protest rally parading past my office in downtown Pittsburgh drew just literally tens of people.  Proving once again that while it’s easy to be socially active from the comfort of your smart phone, it’s quite another thing to actually be present in the real world.

From a stalking perspective I love Facebook, but beyond that I just don’t get this hashtag activism or these attempts at engaging others in intelligent discourse.  I mean, how much truth to power and honest change can you hope to affect in a virtual reality populated by anatomically-challenged, overweight 50 year-old men who routinely pass themselves off as well-hung, buff 22 year-old studs?

In the same way we now look back and ask, “Can you believe people used to sit around in wool suits and top coats and stupid hats and dump raw sewage in public streets and rivers and then wonder why it was they had such a low life expectancy?”  I believe our children’s children’s children will one day look back and ask, “Can you believe people used to sit around in skinny jeans and ironic T-shirts and stupid beards and dump raw sewage in public streets and rivers, I mean the internet, and then wonder why it was they couldn’t solve centuries of racial inequality in 160 characters or less?”


*That doesn’t happen.  We aren’t the fucking Waltons.

claus and effect

The day after Thanksgiving we took Chris to visit Santa.  Chris is eight years old — nine in February — so this very likely might have been our last Black Friday visit with jolly old Saint Nick.  Of course I hope not.  I hope he believes forever.

It’s selfish really, wanting my son to stay in this perpetual state of holly jolly arrested development.  But I miss believing in that magic.  I miss that blind faith, that anticipation, that innocence.  And so the reasoning goes if he still believes then I can believe too.

Because as long as Chris believes then maybe just possibly Santa Claus is real.  And if he is real then maybe he really does live in the North Pole with his grandmotherly wife and his army of Roloffs.  And if the wife and the little people are real so then it stands to reason are the flying reindeer.  And if he can make reindeer fly then circumnavigating the globe in one night is suddenly not so impossible.  And if it’s not impossible then it must be possible.  Santa Claus is real.

Which is all I  want. Because if Santa Claus is real then I’m eight years old again.  It’s Christmas Eve and I’m too excited to sleep.  Like every Christmas Eve since I was three,  I’ve been up all night waiting until that moment when I can rush down the stairs to see what Santa brought.  It’s the magic of Christmas and I haven’t lost it.  It’s still in me.

Except I’m not eight years old.  I’m an adult.  A cynical and jaded adult.

Like the man on the radio this morning as we drove Chris to his bus stop. The commercial voice announced, “The holidays are a stressful time.”  Chris interrupted, “Why are the holidays stressful?”  I started to list the reasons: money, family, low levels of serotonin that bring on S(easonal) A(ffective) D(isorder)…but then I realized that he was not asking a question, he was making a point:

There is no legitimate reason for this to be stressful.  It’s Christmas.  It’s magic.  It’s Santa Claus.  Stop making this complicated.  Just believe.

If only.  Because as we get older — no matter how hard we might try — we can never truly recapture the innocence and magic of our Santa years.  It always eludes us.  Just.

My wish for Chris is that he never outgrow his Santa years; that he keeps the innocence and the magic of Christmas with him always.  How different the world would be if we could all do just that very thing.