(This post from Zman kind of sums up how modern times and Christmas just are not like they used to be….)
I hate Christmas
That’s right. I hate Christmas.
Throughout history, at least since Dickens, guys like me get dubbed a “scrooge” or worse because it is assumed my animus toward the holiday is due to being cheap. Christmas is a gift giving holiday so if you don’t like the holiday, it means you don’t like gift giving. The only people that don’t like gift giving are tightwads and misers. The most famous hater of Christmas is, of course, old Ebenezer from A Christmas Carol, but Mr. Potter from It’s a Wonderful Life is a close second. Both are heartless misers of the first order, who are smote by Christmas.
Well, I’m neither of those guys. I don’t have a problem with gift giving. Gift giving at Christmas is one of the few things about the holiday I find heart-warming. I enjoy taking the time to think about a nice gift for someone I care enough about to give a gift. Like everyone, I tend to take for granted those around me that care about me. When it is time to buy them a gift, I take the time to think about all the nice things they do for me and I appreciate how lucky I am to have them in my life.
It is a mostly selfish act, of course, We give gifts to say something flattering about ourselves. That something makes us feel good because we hope that others will agree with it. “What a nice gift” implies “what a nice person you are for giving me this gift.” We give the gift to let the other person know we are kind, thoughtful, generous and so forth. It’s not all there is, but it is the big motivator. Jewelry stores exist so men can let women know they are good guys, who can and will provide for them. Diamonds are man’s second best friend, just behind dogs.
The issue I have with gifts is in the receiving. I’m terrible at gift receiving. I always feel like an obligation has been bestowed on me. My ideal Christmas is one where I give the gifts and no one gives me anything. That way I don’t feel obligated to wear the ugly shirt, carry the useless wallet or read the Ann Coulter book. I have been given every one of her damned books and I have yet to read a single one. God bless Ann Coulter, but I would rather have my testicles hooked up to a car battery than read one of her books.
I could live with the gift-receiving hassle, but the whole experience is wrapped up in weeks of traffic jams and people acting like idiots. We know retail is way down. We know people are buying more and more stuff on-line. We see the malls and big box stores closing down. Why are there more people out on the streets each year at Christmas? Where are they going? Why are they out driving around and making a nuisance of themselves? The best gift we could get at Christmas is an EMP so no one can go out and drive around for two weeks.
I could even get past the traffic and the hassle of gift getting, but there’s no payoff to Christmas. You make yourself miserable for weeks, open gifts and then nothing. It’s often in a flash. The kids get to play with their toys, but the adults get nothing for their trouble. That’s because Christmas is not a good food holiday like Thanksgiving or a summer cookout. There are treats we associate with the holiday, but America is a rich country overflowing with treats.
The unique foods at Christmas are things like god-awful casseroles and stuffings that taste like ass. As a kid, I was often forced to taste oyster stuffing even though I hated it with the intensity of a thousand suns. No one liked it, which is why it was always left over and then thrown away. The same is true of the casseroles. Bad cooking is not improved by dumping cheese and mushroom soup. Green bean casserole is a crime against nature and should be outlawed. When I’m ruler of these lands, casseroles will be banned.
In fairness, I used to enjoy Christmas mass. When I was a kid, the one thing I really liked about Christmas, the only thing I liked, was the big hullabaloo of Christmas Eve mass. I could just imagine what it was like in the medieval times with candles and torches lighting the church instead of electric lights. A big old church had that ability to awe a person. I’ve always found it comforting to know that I am just one tiny insignificant fleck in the grand tapestry of life. The most miserable people are those who believe they are important.
But, I no longer go to mass so that’s on me. Even so, the terribleness of the modern Christmas far outweighs whatever pleasures I could pluck from it. This is not a new thing either. I’ve felt this way since I was a kid. Once they killed off Santa, I started thinking this holiday was a bit of a rip-off. It’s just one big pitch to buy stuff and spend money. The fact is, Christmas is for cops and kids, as they say in Boston. Most of us just staple a smile on our face and get through it as best we’re able. Another week and life goes back to normal.
Until then, Bah! Humbug!