I have to admit that I used to love Christmas. But it has stopped being fun for me.
I’m not doing it anymore.
Finding, unpacking and hanging the decorations, trying to negotiate for a parking space with a crowd of passive-aggressive strangers before shopping shoulder to shoulder with these same people, the drone of advertising featuring interchangeable Stepford families that starts in October and runs until January, the stress of wondering and worrying about who is expecting what perfunctory gifts, the monotonous music, that guy with the bell, wrapping, customs forms, mailing liquids, the card list, the forced frivolity and superficial piousness, the involuntary family gatherings.
Frankly, my previously joyous efforts to disparage these dreadful things has become tiresome. While I admit that Christmas is a uniquely rich target for distain and self-loathing, having a both a Christian religious heritage that excludes and offends people who choose to celebrate Yuul, Kwansaa, Lenaea, Saturnalia, Merlinpeen, Newtonmass and many other deeply held and practiced beliefs, while at the same time seducing people of many beliefs into the secular customs of the west that enslave humankind to the cold impersonal machinery of industry and commerce for the amusement and benefit of the modern slave owner class.
But the cognitive dissonance that results from contempt for a thing because it is both superficially secular and at the same time oppressively religious grows tiresome. As does having to carefully choose words and construct arguments such that I sound sincerely concerned and thoughtful about the exclusionary side effects of a Christian holiday but at the same time not committing myself to offer the same criticism of the belief and rituals of Hanukkah, Ramadan or any other religion except Christianity. And frankly I’ve been just pretending to really care about the wasted gasoline, landfills bulging from packaging, “living conscientiously”, “disconnecting” from consumerism, and all that other condescending intellectual self-help crap.
I’m just tired of it.
So I’m going to do something radical. I’m going to enjoy the holiday that celebrates both the birth of Jesus Christ, the Christian Son of God, and Santa Claus, that guy who lives in the North Pole and with the help of many elves, makes toys for the not naughty boys and girls and delivers them around the world by dropping down the chimney from a flying sled.
I’m canceling my “ACLU Christian” Google Alert, removing the Huffington Post from my favorites and turning off MSNBC. I’m going to pass on the New York Times Lifestyles op-eds. I’m going to hang as many lights as I have time for. I’m going to stop to linger and enjoy the lights and decorations that others put out, in part for my enjoyment. I’m going to spend a bit of time thinking about what I can give that might be useful or fun, and I’m going to relax when I get it wrong, knowing that friends and family will appreciate the gesture. I’m going to load the iPod with Steamroller and Trans-Siberian, and even though I can’t hear the bell, maybe give the bell guy some change. I’m going to be a little less selfish and devote some time and attention to folks who I might normally not think about. I’m going to be a little less condescending toward people who choose to celebrate the event in a religious way. I’m going to wave to the middle aged guys dressed as Santa and wish them a Merry Christmas. I’m going to watch the Polar Express again.
I going to be thankful for life that the West, perhaps God, and perhaps good fortune, have blessed me with.