Monday, December 10, 2007

What I hate about Christmas

Hint: If you're thinking it's Christ, you're way off base.

No, actually I've always rather liked the Baby Jesus bit. The idea of the King of the Universe manifesting as a helpless baby, with parents of modest means, being born amid the farm animals... yeah, it's mawkish, but it's also the good half of the God-becoming-Man myth, the All-Powerful self-humbled to share our travails... well, it's mawkish and flamingly illogical to boot, fine, but at least it's not yet the psychotic guilt-trip the story morphs into later on. It'd be a harmless and somewhat cute myth if it wasn't for all the baggage associated with it.

I'm not one of those who dreads the obligatory getting together with family either. I don't often get the chance, actually, as scattered as my family is, but in any case we're not a dysfunctional lot and we genuinely enjoy each other's company - even the in-laws, within reason. I wish we could do more of it.

I love ham, and turkey, and stuffing, and cookies, and brandied pudding... (/me wipes drool).

Christmas music... meh. I could use a little more variety and I wish it didn't start at Halloween, but I can hang with it.

I don't even hate the present hunt. Sure, I cringe at the money I find myself spending by times, but then I do that around most paydays. (I'm a spendthrift before and a cheapskate after, sadly.) I enjoy the thinking about what I can get for my loved ones, the anticipation of their pleasure. It's fun. Sure, it gets a bit manic, but that's what commerce does, and I can even enjoy the rush of the crush when I gets me sales boots on.

No, what I really hate and resent is the commercialization of Santa Claus.

When I was a kid he was a cute and harmless myth (harmless because unlike Jesus no one actually expects you to carry it into adulthood). I remember listening enthralled to the reports on the radio of his sleigh being spotted... I really did lie awake listening for sleigh bells and hooves clopping on the roof. I was spellbound at the idea of the jolly old guy who lived at the North Pole and spent all year with his elves making toys, then flew around the world in a single night in a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer (and I knew all their names) bringing toys to all the children. (We didn't dwell much on the lump of coal in my family.)

And when I cottoned on it wasn't a bitter thing, because above all Santa was a generous myth, one where parents and grandparents were willing to give up the credit for gifts they'd bought in order to make the season a bit more magical. What's not to love in that?

Now? Santa's huckstering for every retailer out there. Ho-ho-ho, Santa suggests you spend your money buying this cell phone, that television, the other bit of jewelry. Coca-Cola. Feh! He's not giving anything away, he's selling shit, and it isn't the least bit magical no matter how many CG twinkles and sound effects they add.

I miss the old Santa. Maybe he wasn't 'real' in other than the "Yes, Virginia" sense, but this new guy is just depressingly fake through and through.


AIGBusted said...

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Anonymous said...

That's almost exactly my experience and feelings about God.