Nor have I ceased to regard the holiday as grinding waste of a season. The Mariah Carey-ness of it, the Hallmarki-ness of it, the crowd of people milling around under taxpayer provided municipal decorations, shoving each other out of the way to max out their credit cards, still annoys me. I would still happily sign up to be a Stocking Stealer or an Elf Eraser, if they advertised such callings on LinkedIn.
They don’t, so I have decided to wash my hands of the conflict. I will still walk dull-eyed by the television when my girl is watching another movie about a successful, pretty, yet vaguely unfulfilled, career woman finding a perfect man for her lurking in a picturesque New England town in the snow, although, if you go to a New England town in real life this time of year and it is snowing, all you will find is a bunch of New Englanders getting crabby about having to get their snow blowers out of the garage before Thanksgiving.
Speaking of Thanksgiving, there’s a holiday that the Christmas season has nearly crushed into nonexistence. In my childhood, it was regarded as almost equally important. Sure, it was only four days off school instead of seven, but one of those days was spend tracing crayons around our hands to make crayon turkeys that our parents had to hang up on the fridge, so it was really five. Even as a young man, it seemed a festive time of gorging food and drink and watching endless football games.
Now it’s barely an afterthought. Bounce a few giant turkey balloons off skyscrapers and watch football all you want, but the holiday is now just a prelude to Black Friday, where the deadly serious shoppers of America pack saps and switchblades, to fight off others of their kind craving flat-screen TVs at 70% off. And, in truth, I see why. There’s only so many turkeys to sell and hours in a day to watch sports. Attractive people don’t fall in love while they’re stuffing themselves with pie, and even Mariah can’t sing while she’s cramming biscuits down her throat.
No, it’s all the same every year, mall Santas, annoying carolers and grandma getting run over by a reindeer again and again on the CVS soundtrack. Starbucks will put something Satanic on its Christmas cups and wait eagerly, like a child anticipating Christmas dawn, for the good Christians of America to notice it and start their annual boycott up again.
I have decided to step back from the conflict. I will just steel myself against its worst offenses, and wait patiently until January, when dull winter skies and short days depress a nation worried about its weight, its livers and its credit card debit. Spring seems horrifyingly far off, and the next Christmas is so far over the horizon it might as well be Europe.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year.