I guess I should post something before the year ends.
Let’s start with this:
A seasonal, pagan ritual, co-opted by Christians…
…to celebrate the birth of a Jew.
No wonder we’re confused.
Recently, a new email correspondent told me about an exchange she’d had with her daughter, who was pissed that Mom didn’t want to drive several hours (in each direction) to participate in a preconceived notion of some idealized holiday festivities. The story triggered me, and in reply I started pounding out some things I think a lot of people think about this time of year but nobody actually says.
When has that ever stopped me?
Herewith an excerpt from my reply:
To say I have mixed feelings about “The Holidays” would be a bit of an understatement (that, actually was a massive bit of understatement). I think I rather resent the whole “hey, let’s top the year off with a quasi-fascist forced march of of the Christmas Industrial Complex that starts every year right after Halloween (before, even).
Got any money left? We’ll take that now, and it will be so. much. FUN!!! Fa la la la la!
Just in case somebody doesn’t get the message, we will play the same dozen “Christmas tunes” that you have now heard a dozen million times on every sound system (i.e. shitty speakers) in every establishment you enter from now until sometime in January. Gotta stop in the bathroom? Well deck the goddammed halls – it’s not safe there, either.
Are we having fun yet?? Ba-rumpa-bum-bum!
And then the whole family thing. Given my own family history (dead father, pre-fabricated step-family), I have a dim view of the whole concept*. And judging from your story about your daughter, I think all of those misgivings are validated.
I encourage you to wonder only one thing, and that is how you could have raised a daughter so insensitive and unforgiving (so much for ‘the Christmas Spirit!). And since I gather you are divorced from her father, we can surmise that whatever genetic disposition makes your daughter that way she got from him. Feel better now?
Also… I dunno what’s in the air this year, but a lot of the people I know seem to be experiencing ‘early on-set SAD’ (Seasonal Affected Disorder)**. I’m hearing of a lot of fatigue from people who are ready to call it a day around 8PM because by then it’s been dark for three hours.
And, given the state of the world during this ‘joyous time’ it’s a wonder any of us has the strength to get out of bed.
And who thought it was a good idea to schedule all this stuff for the one time of year when the weather mostly sucks and there is no place to park at the mall??
Wake me when it’s over. April will be soon enough.
I dunno if any of that made my pen-pal feel any better. It sure made me feel better….
And speaking of April: Can somebody please explain to me why we turn on “daylight savings time” when the days are getting longer – and turn it off when the days are getting shorter? Who thought that was a good idea?
Nor do I understand why the ‘shortest day of the year’ – today’s Winter Solstice – is only the first day of actual winter. Why doesn’t the shortest day come in the the middle of winter? There must he something I don’t understand about planetary orbits and the Earth’s axis. I’m sure they explained it that day I wasn’t paying attention in school (which, of course, could have been any day I was in school).
Here’s the thing about winter: it goes on for as long as you can possibly take it. And then it goes on even longer. Hell, I had enough of the-cold-and-dark-before-5PM about two weeks ago – i.e. two weeks before actual winter even started. I am not looking forward to February.
Nevertheless, I have my own small way of observing (fending off?) the season: Despite all the preceding ‘bah humbug’, I put up lights on my house every year.
But please understand, these are not “Christmas” lights. These are Winter Lights.
I don’t just put them up for ‘the holidays.’ I put my lights on the house the day that we shifted from Daylight Savings to Standard time. This year it was November 5th. And I’m gonna leave ’em up*** until Daylight Savings starts again on March 10th, 2024 (even though winter is not officially over for another ten days).
Oh. And. Speaking of “Christmas music,” you might be surprised to learn that there are actually a whole TWO “Christmas tunes” that I think are worthy of your time and attention – especially since, by and large, they get very little time in the retail rotation.
So please, take a few minutes to avail yourselves:
First, this (truly!) timeless classic by Bing Crosby and… wait for it… David Bowie!
And then, what I consider, truly, my favorite Song of the Season:
“And so this is Christmas, and what have you done…?”
Well I wrote this blog post. And a few others. And published a couple of books. Does that count?
Maybe I’ll do better next year.
But then, that’s what I say every year.
Actually, I think that’s what everybody says every year.
So y’all have a Merry Ho Ho and a Happy Ha Ha, and I’ll hope to see you at the next roundup.
I’ll leave you all some snaps from back in the day when Christmas was still fun – because it was the 1950s, and cuz we wuz the kids!
For more about the electric trains, read Harvey and the Lionel Trains
After reading the above my sister wrote to remind me that she’s the only member of the original ‘nuclear (that term seems oddly apt now) family still living, and provided this photo from one of our Christmases in Florida with the Grandparents:
*Family: a gathering of humans that we would have nothing to do with were we not ‘related’ to them. Any exceptions only prove the point.
**Not to be confused with SADS, which sounds really serious, but could also be triggered this by time of year.
*** Actually, I take down the little spiral Christmas tree lights in January, and just leave the “winter” lights on the house until spring.