we need (a little) christmas

 

I’ve come to the realization that the so-called war on Christmas is real. But contrary to what you may have heard on the right-wing radio stations or from the right-wing pulpit, this war is not being waged by atheists or ISIS or even the good people at Starbucks.

The war on Christmas has been bought and paid for by the haters. You know who I’m talking about, that loud minority of people who are offended by and hate everything that makes the rest of us happy.

You smile and say, “Happy holidays!” They grimace and declare, “It’s Christmas, you Jesus-hating asshole! Christmas. Not Kwanzaa or Chanukah or solstice, whatever the fuck that even is. It’s Christmas. Merry Christmas.”

You walk into Target shortly after Labor Day and your eyes light up when you spot the first signs of Christmas. No sooner do you bust out a few bars of Deck the Halls and they scream, “What the fuck?! It’s not even Halloween.”

At 12:01 a.m. on the first of November you curl up with a cup of hot cocoa and a Hallmark Christmas movie while Irving Berlin’s White Christmas plays softly in the background. Out of nowhere they appear, “What about Thanksgiving?! #thanksgivingmatters. Those pilgrims gave their lives so we could have Thanksgiving.[1]

And then there are those people who scream about the “commercialization of Christmas” and complain when the obviously anti-Christian town council decides to display a Christmas tree in lieu of a crèche. They rail about putting “the Christ back in Christmas”, never mind that they are often the least Christ-like people among us.

These haters hate tradition, old and new. The day after Thanksgiving they renounce Christmas cookies by announcing plans for a new diet. They declare children to be spoiled and admonish any parent who gives their child more than four gifts. They compose lengthy anti-Elf on the Shelf diatribes, mocking parents for posting photos on social media and claiming the elf is “a capillary form of power that normalizes the voluntary surrender of privacy, teaching young people to blindly accept panoptic surveillance and reify hegemonic power.”[2]

Huh.

Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t understand the hate. I don’t understand why people pretend to care because that’s all it is, pretend. Does it really matter what day your local lite FM station stops playing Maroon 5 on an endless loop and starts playing Johnny Mathis on an endless loop?  Does it affect your life if my kids get 437 Christmas presents? Are your sensibilities truly offended by the sight of a Christmas tree in October?

Oh please.

The truth is we need Christmas. We need Christmas because it makes us better people.

Christmas gives us hope. It offers us the promise of the person we could be rather than the person we are. Its one day in the whole of the calendar where we are good and kind and anything seems possible.

Is it any wonder then that we would try and stretch out that day (and feeling) for as long as we could?

So please, let us have our Christmas music in November and our holiday store displays in October and our predictable Hallmark movies all the season long. And let us flood social media with photos of that stupid elf and eat too many cookies and give way too many presents.

But most of all let us have whatever it is we choose to believe, whether it be the impossible story of a baby in a manger or a benevolent fat guy in a red suit. Don’t take it from us because we need it.

We need Christmas. It makes us better people.

___________________________________________

[1] This is not true.

[2] Technology Professor and part-time Grinch Laura Pinto, Washington Post (December 16, 2014)

how to survive the holidays

For many Americans, myself included, the last two months of the year are a happy time of reckless drinking and excessive binge-eating.  It all begins like clockwork at approximately exactly 9:37 p.m. on October 31st when, shortly after putting your kid to bed, you begin to steal his Halloween candy.  At first you show admirable restraint taking only the loose Tootsie Rolls at the bottom of the pail, but by the end of the first week you’ve moved on to a breakfast of snack-sized Kit Kats and mini-Twizzlers. A midnight raid early in week two takes out the last of the king-sized Milky Way bars and you know you’ve hit rock bottom when your son asks what happened to the jumbo Reese’s Cups and you suggest the dog ate them.

No sooner are you beginning to show signs of early onset diabetes when you abandon the candy and move on to a gluttonous carb-filled Thanksgiving feast where you consume enough food to feed all the starving children in China dating back to the 1950’s when parents still said things like, “You eat that meatloaf.  There are starving children in China.”  Your reward for all your hard-eating is a 72-hour turkey coma…followed by four weeks of Christmas cookies for dinner.  Your shame spiral then comes full circle when, moments after receiving your yearly visit from the ghost of Dick Clark, you wake up hugging the toilet, your face plastered with bits of pork gravy and sick.

It truly is the most wonderful time of the year.  So complain all you want about holiday store displays in October and Christmas music in November.  Not me.  Those eight weeks are magical.  Give me Perry Como and The Carpenters.  Give me Bill Murray in Scrooged and the whole of Britain in Love Actually.  Give me all the Christmas crap the Hallmark Channel can make.   Kit Kats, Reese’s Cups, Todd’s carrot souffle, row after row of brightly decorated Christmas cookies — I surrender.  I’ll buy new pants.  I’ll run tomorrow.  I’ll join a gym in January.

But for now I’m going to be a kid.  I’m going to remember when the day after Halloween meant Christmas; when Santa Claus seemed possible.  I’m going to take my kid to the Christmas tree farm, cut down the biggest tree we can find and then make Todd drag it back to the car.

How to survive the holidays?  Give in.

the week that was

The biggest news this week was that I had a cold sore.  Left to wander the rain-soaked streets of Pittsburgh like a syphilitic 19th century whore, my oral Scarlet A told a story. It let people know that I had been places.

Of course worse than actually having a cold sore is having to go to the store and buy cold sore medication.  I was a bit unnerved to discover that Rite-Aid keeps these medications locked up and that if you want to buy them you have to go up to the sales clerk and say, “I need to purchase some medication for my fever blister which is NOT herpes despite how many questionable sex acts I engaged in while in college.”

I was applying the shame salve when Chris asked if he could borrow my ChapStick.  I told him it was not ChapStick and then hid it on an upper shelf after having a vision of my eight year old in his room smearing herpes meds all over his face.


Also of note this week was the election.  A former talk radio and cable news junkie, I no longer partake in political catnipping as it left me with the urge to gather up all Republicans and hold them prisoner in a raunchy gay sex club/third trimester abortion clinic.

The truth is I only know there was an election because Facebook (from where I get all my news) told me about it.  Or rather, the people in my newsfeed (who apparently invented voting) took pictures of themselves with stickers that said “I voted”.  Sigh.  I’m currently printing up stickers that say: “This is NOT herpes.”

I think it’s great that you voted and I love a sticker as much as the next 5 year old, but I noticed as the day went on that it went from statuses of “I just voted!” to “I voted.  Have you?!” to “I’m morally superior to you because I voted.” to “People who don’t vote should be held prisoner in a raunchy gay sex club/third trimester abortion clinic.”  Hey, whatever.  I could use a vacation.

I just wish people could vote and shut up about it.  Why does it have to be a “thing”? Why does it have to be cool?  Why does it have to be celebrity endorsed?  Why does it need a sticker?!?!


Halloween was also this week(ish).  For the second straight year it rained.  This did not deter a skeleton-clad Chris who was determined to fill up his 37-gallon plastic pumpkin with enough candy to feed all those Republicans I’m currently holding prisoner at my raunchy gay sex club/third trimester abortion clinic.

As someone who came to this parenthood thing a little late in the game, I have to say that walking around in the cold, wet dark for two hours while my kid becomes pre-diabetic is, well, kind of awesome.  It’s one of those moments I never thought I’d get to have: trick-or-treating with my kid.

I do hate that the only time I seem to truly big picture my life is during these seminal moments.  Trick-or-treating.  Christmas.  Birthdays.  It makes me a little sad that I take for granted the every day.  That each moment isn’t significant.  But then I think of my instagram feed with its “I voted” pictures of mugging adults and I realize: not every thing in life can be a sticker moment.