Every year, the span of absurdity known as “the holiday season” gets more and more surreal to me. I was in my mid-twenties, living in a skeleton of a town in Southern California’s high desert, the first time I wished the Christian cashier a merry Christmas at the local pharmacy and gift shop, and she replied to me by whispering over the tinsel-laden display of impulse items on the check-out counter, “Oh, I don’t celebrate Christmas. The tree is a pagan symbol. It represents a penis.”
Well alrighty then.
It’s not that I’m anti-Christmas. I’m not. Not really. What I am is anti-mob-mentality. Anti-automaton. Oh, I like that. That’s fun to say. Anti-automaton. That would be a bitchin’ meditation mantra.
But, to continue…
I’m not a fan of anything massive amounts of people do mindlessly in droves. I was wary of crowds before being wary of crowds was a nightly headline. Y’know that image of Victorian-era street-children pressing their faces up against the frosted winter windows of the bright and festive lives of the privileged class? That’s how I feel about life in general. I’m looking at it with interest, fear, and excitement, but from a decent hiding spot where I’m hoping not to be noticed. I’m good with just sitting back and taking notes on the things I observe.
I think of retreating from social hysteria as a reward for having spent a lot of years doing a bunch of shit. I went. I did. I’m over it. Recently, though, the war-on-the-pagan-roots-of-Christmas is giving me a dreadful urge to bake, and decorate the ever-loving shit out of the house… I’m talking cleaning out the holiday corner of every Dollar General within a fifteen-mile radius kind of decorating.
As an atheist, I didn’t do Christmas for years. I mean, I hate shopping, I’m not a Christian, and I don’t have kids in my life. I don’t have any family traditions to pass on to anyone. I do things and give presents to the people I care about all year long. What reason would I have for doing Christmas? I don’t have to participate in some obligatory day, and stress myself out emotionally & financially just because social convention says I should. On top of that (oh good, more therapy-through-blogging), I don’t have a lot of good memories of Christmas as a kid. The ones I do have, however, are all pop-culture related. My Dad never let anyone help decorate the tree. He couldn’t risk one of us kids breaking an ornament. So I never got to do that. And he would always get pissed about the lights – either being knotted up, or having a string of them that won’t light. Every. Fucking. Year.
Et cetera, et cetera.
So, like everyone else, come Christmastime, I’ve decided to cherry-pick the good memories of childhood Christmases, and spend the “holiday season” being into those things. Obviously it’s different for everyone. In the post-nuclear suburbia of 1970’s Ross Township, I always thought “Happy Holidays” meant Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s… and then when the Kaufman’s moved into the neighborhood, Hanuka, too. Because I was a little kid. Wtf did I know. I don’t remember anyone giving a shit. Holiday season was when a lot of holidays happened. Saying “happy holidays” was a way of not having to spend a hundred dollars on fucking greeting cards.
Like my Mom, I spent a decade or two going through a vigorous card-sending phase, but I seem to have shaken that some years ago. I think it might make a resurgence, though. I’ll have to monitor my motivations & distractions. I’m the kind of dork who likes to make gifts. The least favorite kid of gifts ever. Worse than unplanned pregnancy, and donations to charity made in your name.
In any event, 25 years later, Fox News comes along, and suddenly there are a whole shitload of things that never used to be wrong, but are wrong now… and a whole bunch of people who suddenly had no clue that they were even mad about all that shit in the first place. Now there’s all these demands to say merry Christmas… or else! (…just like Jesus would have wanted.)
Let me just say… I have had enough insecure & manipulative boyfriends in my day to know that this is exactly how they act. Exactly.
Kitty Litterbox fun fact: I probably haven’t said Merry Christmas (other than during SantaCon) in 30 years. You know what I say? Nothing. I wait for someone to say it to me, and then I say, “Back atcha.” or “Same to you.” Compromise. Everyone happy. Crisis averted. Myths in tact.
(This is where I imagine people’s heads exploding like that dude’s did in the movie “Scanners.”)
Yeah, SantaCon. I love that shit. I know… bucks the tide on that whole crowd-hating notion. What can I say… I have a soft spot for dressing up in costume, and bar-hopping for charity. Plus it still gets a lot of bad press, so… yeah, punk never dies. It just gains 20 pounds, dresses like Santa, urinates in public, and passes out drunk behind a dumpster behind the gas station.
Like I said, i don’t hate Christmas… I just don’t like people telling me I have to celebrate their kind of Christmas. I’m a fuckin’ enigma. Wrapped in a puzzle. Deep-fried in lard. Buried in the Litterbox.
Ain’t we all.
See you in Southtown.
If this woman is in her 80’s, I think it’s my great-grandma Neva. If she’s in her 60’s, I think it’s my Grandma Dolby. Not sure where it is – either California or Arizona.