Warning! This will not lift your holiday spirits, unless they're the kind you've been drinking.
It may surprise you to know that I don't do Christmas. (Or Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Festivus, etc. or whatever else there is out there...) No, I wasn't raised Jehovah Witness. There was the Grinch, there was Ebenezer, but watch out, here comes Simon.
Allow me to preface with the following.
I'm not sure if I ever surpassed the stage of reveling in childlike thought. Consider the imaginary, the surreal, the fables of long ago and faraway, flight and fancy, and the epic nature that exists in the quest for everything. I believe my mode of creative thought comes from those rawest forms of expression, that of primal scribbles and the most saturated wells of color. Things that uplift and dazzle. Things that are infused with youth. This is what I like and in all things I do, I try to draw some aspect from this manifesto.
Except when it comes to this holiday. I can't do it. I can't see much evidence where the giving exceeds the greed. I am severely jaded.
I could give you the usual rebellious reasons about how it's a commercial vampire, the incongruous religious overtones, or how it just makes people go crazy. But for me, on one random Christmas season, in some depressing state, something changed. I realized that I didn't want to be a part of it all. Suddenly, every year when the decorations go up and the silly holiday tunes go on heavy rotation for the rest of the country, I become the worst person to be around. Christmas does not make me feel young, it's at this time I feel the most like a decrepit adult.
Of all the things that I wish that I was ignorant about, it would be the Christmas season. In the end, my childhood memories of Christmas are not about anything except getting presents. That's it. No overwhelming urge to make nice or propagate peace. But back then, in that very well fed skin, it couldn't have possibly been a bad thing. All I could think about was which Transformer I'd be getting next.
I didn't mind the requisite Christmas Eve service so much because, hey, I was allowed to play with fire in church. There I would sit and patiently stare at that candle and zone out thinking about how in just minutes I could make little creatures out of the drippings and then watch them have their untimely end in the flame. Or try to fuse the wax to my fingertips without too much pain involved. But everybody did that right?
Eventually, attending church at this time of year became another series of stories to be endured instead of embraced. Come to think, the whole thing spurred the beginnings of my questioning of faith, a more mature minded way of thinking and feeling less like a kid.
Then again, there are things that make me think this season always brought out more adult-like qualities. I never believed in Santa Claus to begin with. It made absolutely no sense. Candy makes me ill, I could never get into the grating quality of all those Rankin-Bass Rudolph movies and whenever I hear speeches involving "The magic of Christmas" I am cautious that my eyes don't roll back into my head too far lest I become the subject of public lynching. (The term "magical" applied to anything is nauseating enough. And if you'll pardon the expression but it's really just so, um, gay.)
I'm not outwardly uncivil to those who wish to partake in whatever traditional fare they deem the most endearing. But I don't try to get it anymore. It seems particularly rote, uninspired and fake. In the end, I humor those that need humoring. I will wish you a Merry-Winter-Holiday-Of-Your-Choice but that's about the extent of my participation. Please don't misunderstand, I am sincere in the return sentiment because more than likely it was meant in a spirit of goodwill. That's not the problem. Of all the currents I could be fighting this seems to be the most impossible.
It's tricky being in this position when you have kids. People tell me they do it only for the kids. I don't do it BECAUSE I have kids. I'm not talking about kids who don't have anything. I'm talking about my kids. Average, white, suburban, lower-middle class, hopped up on school cafeteria sugar, in need for all things serialized by mass media kids. Good kids but still not exactly in need of much. If I'm supposed to be a parent, one who guides by example, I would think the smartest thing I could do is to skip all the Christmas crap.
I realized it recently because of the sometimes odd relationship I have with my children. There are a lot of moments I don't feel like the adult at all. I run the risk where I just act like a big brother who's merely been saddled with the task of watching over younger siblings. I'll play the same video games, watch the same movies and get caught up in things usually meant for those in primary school age set. Don't even get me started in the Lego aisle. I can be swayed by the right cool toy in a moment of weakness. So in the end, there are times I wish they were older and I was younger. I want to go back to the place of being naive if only to learn it all over again in a way that perhaps makes it palpable.
But reality kicks idealism in the arse often. I did buy two presents this year that bare my name, one for each monkey, simply because they won't understand why Daddy didn't get them anything. I love them very much. But trying to explain the logic of what's going through my mind, say a concept like altruism, to this kindergartner is right now about as effective as slicing steel with a spork. He wants to know what's in it for him. So Elder Monkey gets a Transformer (duh) and Younger Monkey gets some K'nex.
Sigh. How much you wanna bet I'll be playing with these tomorrow morning...
So then, in my little section of American life, once again Christmas isn't about anything else except getting presents. Maybe that's not all but for now that's all I see. But this year hasn't been so bad. I've learned to turn any spite and sadness into mild yet annoying sarcasm, which has been loads of fun among the usual jolly set. Yes indeed, not many presents for me this year. But really I think that's all I wanted to begin with.
All that being said...please do have a good holiday. Maybe even take a moment to consider the why's. And remember to enjoy the presence of those involved as much as the presents that you receive.