Sunday, December 23, 2007

Sure Don’t Feel Like Christmas Time

Its really odd to me, but this year, I’m just not feeling the Christmas spirit. Last year it was practically unavoidable, what with working in a retail job during the holiday mercantile mad dash. But this December, well, its all been pretty low key for me. I don’t want to hear badly performed soft-rock Christmas carols, I don’t want to fend my way through the rabid flocks at the mall who are searching for quantity over quality, hell, I don’t even really want any presents. Not that I don’t appreciate the gesture, but, honestly, I don’t really need anything and that money can be spent on someone more needy than me. I’ve gotten my shopping out of the way early and right now, I’m just kind of waiting for the whirlwind to end and then work its way to New Year’s.

Burnout from last year aside (when Christmas never ever, EVER ended thanks to work), I’ve just been cold on holidays in general this fall. I shot my Halloween wad sometime in August, then moved to second shift at my new job and had a pretty good Thanksgiving and really couldn’t give a shit about the official “Christmas Season.”

And I think that’s got something to do with it. It could be the Dortmunder Gold coursing through my system right now, but it seems to me that “the Christmas Season.” No, wait, I’m sorry, Let’s be culturally sensitive and generic. “Holiday Season.” (That’s a rant for another time. I’ll just leave it with io, Saturnalia!) I think the problem with the “Holiday Season” is that all this talk about Christmas Magic and Hanukkah Miracles and Kwanzaa, um, Goodness is pretty damn hollow right now. I mean step back and look at it. Where are the idiotic holiday sitcom specials (well, okay, the Writers’ Guild Strike may be an answer)? Where’s the love? I’m not even referring to the violence in the world. I mean where the hell is “goodwill toward men”? It just feels like this nebulous “Holiday Spirit” is just something that you do for a little while and then you go back home and try to forget about it till next year. There’s no fucking magic to it. I need more beer.

Ah, that’s better. Where was I? Right. So when I was a kid Christmastime meant something different. It meant that people went out of the way to help a stranger. It meant trying to convince my parents not to take me to the department store Santa because sitting on a stranger’s lap creeped me out. It meant getting a shitload of presents from my grandparents. It meant going to midnight mass because dammit, Christmas wasn’t Christmas without baby Jesus. But above all that, it meant treating people with extra respect, because in the middle of December (which can get pretty fucking cold up in Northeast Ohio) with the slush and the snow and the wildly fluctuating temperatures and people bundled up in ugly old school nylon winter coats, people are having a really shitty time as it is, and maybe, just maybe it isn’t actually very funny seeing an old woman slip and fall on a patch of ice. And even more maybe, it might just be a pretty decent thing to switch off your goddamn autopilot and actually go over there and help her up, ask her if she’s okay and not need anything in return.

That’s just an example, but its getting me closer to what pisses me off about this bogus “holiday spirit” thing. BluRay doesn’t mean shit when you’re so wrapped up in your own little vacuum of self-importance. I’d say it would make baby Jesus cry if he saw what we’ve become, but its not what we’ve become. We’ve always been like this. Its human nature to ignore problems and put them off until they’re breathing in your face. Hell, I do it all the time. But dammit, its also human nature to get pissed off by yourself and your own stupid tendencies. And I realize I’m slightly tipsy at this point, and that you’ve probably already heard this before, but reiteration is important people.

Its surprisingly easy to do something good and decent for another human being when you don’t expect or even want a reward. That’s it right there. That’s the fucking Christmas Spirit that I honest to God haven’t seen a whole lot of in the “world at large.” I’ve seen a helluva lot of vitriol and demagoguery being spat across televisions nationwide as part of this absurdly early “campaign season.” I see drivers doing a whole “Ben Hur chariot scene” just driving to the mall. I see the occasional Salvation Army Santa ringing his bell while shoppers guiltily hurry by him and try no to make eye contact. I swear, it makes me want to spew my Subway Meatball Marinara sandwich from eight hours prior all over my keyboard just thinking about how generous and compassionate humanity is as a whole. But even if I sound a little cynical, I’m not negative. I know we’re capable of doing better. I’ve seen it, done it, bought the t-shirt. Its just not the norm. The ideal and not the paradigm.

So happy holidays, merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah, merry Kwanzaa, io Saturnalia, happy birthday Son/Sun God and all that other stuff. Sure, no problem. Enjoy your ham, kosher dinner and even New Age Winter Solstice tofurkey. Just, take a damn minute to look out your window. See the freezing rain and snow? There are people out there in it right now. Yes, even this very NOW. Spare that moment to think about them, how they’re cursing the weather and trying to get home (if they have one), how they’re worrying about getting a gift and not being able to find it/afford it. Imagine their lives sucking eggs and then mentally photoshop your face over theirs. Golly, it sure would suck if that was you, wouldn’t it? The homeless family living out of their car, the harried mom and dad who didn’t get the gift they promised junior Santa would bring, the lonely bachelor sitting on his couch wishing he had some fine foxy lady to get warm with. It sucks to be everyone from time to time. REMEMBER THAT WHEN YOU SEE SOME RANDOM STRANGER. They’re not some extra in your movie of life. They’ve got their own shit to deal with, and you know, even giving them a simple smile and hello might be enough to help their day not be a total stressfest.

Merry Christmas. Goodwill towards mankind. We don’t deserve it, which makes any goodwill shown all the more precious.

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