Well if it isn’t that glorious time of year again! And no, there is absolutely no hint of sarcasm in my pen! Seriously. I kid you not. You know, it’s that wonderful time when parents glee with snap-happy anticipation about spending a shit ton of money they actually don’t have, and then counting down the moments until everyone tears open their presents. And afterwards, the “fan damily” then scurry about to some in-laws or outlaws to once again get through the heart attack-ridden gluttony without having to call 911, a couple of more mandatory presents in between, and just for good measure; we’ll throw in a little bit of all too familiar ungraciousness, relational trepidation, and a good dose of leftover familial guilt just to close out this blessed day! Ah, there’s nothing quite like it. In fact, one can hardly wait till next year to do it all again.
But wait, did I just say, “Bah Humbug”? Well kinda. But at least I didn’t add “decrease the surplus population” to it. I’ll leave that to God. But just for the record, there is no way that I should be in charge of the zapper button that obliterates people out of existence on any given day. God in his infinite wisdom stores up his wrath for another day and keeps me out of the consultative loop. Be thankful. No, but seriously, be thankful.
Genes are a Bitch
My disdain for Christmas is complicated, so let me explain. I guess after all I inherited it from my old man. I used to see the look on his eyes every Christmas and it literally scared the shit out of me. Kind of like Clark Griswold finally unhinged in the aftermath of surviving an insane family for the holidays, and an equally negligible Christmas bonus https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQXuazYI_YU, or like Neil Page finally unglued at the airport counter https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nWRxPDhd3d0 if you get my drift. In fact, you could see his eye veins pulsate as he looked at you, and coupled with the tone of his voice, it was a sight so palpable that you could cut it with a freaking butter knife. In fact, to this day, I swear if that ole boy didn’t have a flask stationed in every room of the house during Christmas, he missed a good damn opportunity! And I know for sure that whatever smidgeon of joy he experienced couldn’t have lasted more than a millisecond on Christmas Day. To see the sheer ecstasy in our entitled little bug eyes, and then saving just a bit more to be sure when he opened his one damn present with everybody’s cheap ass name written on it, which ended up being a frickin tie or some generic cologne that couldn’t get you any action with two out of work hookers and an American Express black card for goodness sakes! His response was like, “Oh gee, thanks everybody, you really shouldn’t have”! In fact, I’m quite sure that the 26th couldn’t come soon enough, and I imagine him and Mrs. Claus partying like it was 1999 as they ushered in their new, but only temporal freedom from the sheer agony of it all. But I digress.
To get deeper into the heart of the matter, I guess it’s summed up quite nicely in my title with the sheer “X-mas” of it all that we have come to know all too well. In fact, though raised in a home that took fairly seriously the customary reading of the Luke 2 Christmas story, our culture had successfully conditioned us to tolerate the moment in order to get to the real shindig. You know, the bliss of discovering whether or not we got everything we had on our list, concluding that we were more nice than naughty, and breathing a sigh of relief that Santa or Dad, or whoever the Hell it was, somehow graded on the curve. There was also the token Christmas service, the watching of “A Christmas Carol”,“Rudolph the Red nosed Reindeer” and “Frosty the Snowman”, and then a stark reminder from “It’s a Wonderful Life” to get at least somehow close to the sheer meaning of it all not a moment too late for possible bargaining chips down the road at the pearly gates. But Jesus, you know, “the reason for the season” and all, got somehow lost in the periphery; and by the day after, had come up again a day late and a dollar short of truly gripping us with the ultimate gift that longs to continually give year after year–if we but allow it. And somehow, I guess you could say I’ve at least somewhat repeated the cycle, though in James Dean like defiance. Finally left to my own contemplative thoughts once the trash bag of endless wrapping paper is nestled where the soon to be memory of fleeting present glory also rests: in the garbage can of grasping for meaning straws, and coming up with the same vanity and emptiness before the hysteric flimflam began. And as much as I long to extract significance from this blessed day amidst the rigmarole of what we’ve made it, I often find myself most of the time waiting for the again depressing climax of December 26th as well, with the temptation to then light up a smoke and perhaps even bathe in the ambiance!
Well, perhaps you’re like me this Christmas, and you’re one who has to survive it rather than experience the magic and thoughtful exuberance of it all. A magic like the star that guided wise Magi a couple of millennia ago to gaze upon a face and a meaning that’s only response to it was to give every bit of gold, frankincense and myrrh they could lay down at His feet of soon to be glorious good news. And a child born with the power to save mankind from both his perpetual capacity for sin, and the slavery-like oblivion to repetitively put all his eggs in a basket of smoke and mirrors, continually hoping for left over manna instead of the daily bread of contentment proceeding out of that precious mouth of God that man surely should not live without. And likewise, for a gift that is wrapped in love and peace, forgiveness, and good will toward man. Something to which we many times have left time and time again wrapped under that oft forgotten tree. But in the meantime, it’s beginning to look at lot like Christmas.