Halloween is behind us, so you all know what that means. We are hurtling head-long into the holiday season at 1000 miles-per-hour. The decorations that were being barely held at bay in the Wal-Mart warehouse have now erupted into our consciousnesses with a saccharine vengeance. Time to be jolly and spend lots of money, for Christmas sake!
Now I am no Scrooge. In fact I love Christmas. I love most of the music, and I enjoy buying gifts for my family. I like the shiny lights. I’d get into the whole “special feeling in my stomach” stuff too, but I have a reputation to uphold here. Nobody likes an enthusiastic cynic, unless he’s being enthusiastically cynical.
For all the wonder, joy and profit the season brings, it also brings a bunch of big fat lies we all have to live with, especially as we start turning the corner of our 40s and head, screaming and kicking, further down the road. OK, maybe they are little white lies. But they’re lies all the same. Such as…
“Wouldn’t it be magical if there was a white Christmas this year?” Well…no. Not really. Here in the Northeast, we’re going to get pounded with snow from January to mid-March—and I don’t want to start early, thank you. Plus, the whole snow on Christmas thing is a pipe-dream for most of the country. Unless you live in Maine, upstate New York, northern Minnesota, Wisconsin or Colorado, odds are you’ll be wistfully looking out the window through your breath-frost, wishing in vain for a stray flake. Everybody loves that first sprinkling of snow. Then reality sets in, and you find yourself with a heating pad attached to what’s left of your spine after shoveling your car out of nine feet of blizzard hell. Ask the folks in Buffalo, Green Bay and Denver how much they love snow. You’ll get a tired, disgusted look. They’d punch you in the face, but they can’t lift their arms.
“There’s nothing like the face of a child on Christmas morning!” Says anyone who has never had kids, or has conveniently forgotten the truth. You know what the majority of parents would like to see on Christmas morning? The backs of their eyelids. Or anything but their dear children, shaking them awake at half-past-too-friggin’-early-to-breathe to come out to the livingroom and watch them tear apart their presents. My wife Mary Ellen makes a breakfast casserole the night before so she can come out in a blanket, see the first fifteen minute of destruction, then return to her blissful sleep. That’s the kind of thinking that gets you promoted in this man’s Army! I fight the good fight with the help of copious cups of caffeine, but by 10am or so I’m a cranky, sleep-deprived zombie who doesn’t want to play any more games, and doesn’t want to put anything else together, and JUST WANTS TO BE LEFT ALONE TO SLEEP, DAMMIT! Merry Christmas, boys, now get out of my room! I don’t care, go play with reindeer! Nothing to do? You have 1,251 dollars worth of something to do under the tree! I don’t know, ’cause Santa showed me the bill. Now go away!
“Every Christmas album ever made is an instant classic, and I want to hear it over and over as I shop!” OK, here’s the deal: Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” may be indispensable for many, many 12-year-olds during the holiday season, but the rest of us JUST DON’T EVER WANT TO HEAR IT AGAIN! Please, for the love of all that’s holy! Let us shop in peace. Play some Bing Crosby, Andy Williams, the Halleluiah Chorus. Play Phil Spector, Burl Ives, Nat King Cole, Springsteen. The Ray Coniff Singers, the Peanuts Special soundtrack, The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, The Muppets, “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.” I’m easy, I love lots of it. Stop pounding Mariah Carey and Justin Bieber into my brain like a metal spike, over and over and over. And as wonderful as the Beatles may have been and continue to be, those Christmas songs John and Paul cut are soooo baaaad. Paul’s sounds like it was written on the back of an envelope in the limo on the way to the studio (probably the one his big ol’ check came in). And Yoko…oy vey. If I wanted to hear high-pitched shrieking on Christmas I’d visit my family. War is over, but what is this fresh hell? Plus, Christmas albums are the number one cynical, sell-out, quick buck stratagem for any artist with at least 15 seconds of fame, and some who are famous already and should know better. Susan Boyle, Rod Stewart, Jewel, the guys from Duck Dynasty. And noted goyim such as Neil Diamond, Bob Dylan and the irrepressible Barbra Streisand, who has about 12 of them now because she obviously needs the money. I don’t think I want to hear an album that would make the artist’s mother cringe and give a disapproving look.
And don’t get me started on movies. ABC Family starts showing the most treacly straight-to-video Christmas-themed crappola in existence in mid-November and calls it the “25 Days of Christmas” even though it takes six weeks. And “Home Alone” is a mean-spirited, nasty movie about mean-spirited, nasty people and it has about as much to do with Christmas as emergency surgery. And I should know, because I’ve had a few and none of them reminded me of Jimmy Stewart.
“Christmas presents need to be wrapped within an inch of their ever-loving lives, like skin stretched on a drum, secured with enough tape to ensure that said present can be used as a flotation device and is impenetrable to human tampering—then festooned with an impossibly knotted colored ribbon and a kicky bow.” Again, this may be split along the children-having divide. At 3am Christmas morn, I would cover their presents with tin foil and chewed gum if I had to. And since the tape usually runs out an hour before I’m done, I’ve frequently had to. What the presents look like before they are opened matters to grown ups, NOT kids. Kids want to get from “A” to “X-Box 360” as quickly as humanly possible, and are only annoyed by the delay of well-wrapped presents. Ribbons and bows? Lost in the flood of paper garbage that is piled shin deep in the livingroom 45 seconds after Christmas commences.
I think people who spend a lot of time wrapping air-tight presents are a. childless or have grown children, b. gay, c. people who want everything to be absolutely PERFECT this year! or d. really nice people who I just happen to disagree with about this topic. A, b and c can also be d.
So let’s end this on a positive note. I’m the big fat liar. One of the best Christmases I ever had was when we had a huge snowstorm and we couldn’t leave the house to visit anyone. The kids and I went sledding on a neighbor’s hilly lawn and nearly killed ourselves, but it was a blast.
Then we went inside to hot cocoa, a Bob Dylan Christmas and “Home Alone”.