Saturday, December 04, 2010

Carol of the Blahs

And so it has begun – that pre-Christmas blah feeling is settling in. It happens every year and every year it sneaks up on me like it's something new. Then I have to cajole myself by decorating, singing, exposing myself to uplifting books, movies and Christmas carols, anything that will remind me that I like Christmas. I do like Christmas, right?

I know that I don't like the commercialism or that Christmas means being inundated with advertisements suggesting that what Jesus really wants is for me to spend $90 on a giant, plastic, remote-controlled sasquatch that was probably made by Chinese orphans working for .17 an hour. I also don't have the big Norman Rockwell scene of a family (frankly, they make me jealous!) to gather around the tree, singing Silent Night before going to bed to wake up in an international coffees holiday commercial where we make Christmas memories over steaming cups of Irish Mocha Mint as the kids tear open gifts some fat dude left behind for them. Any other time of year, some geriatric trying to break into your house by wedging himself down a chimney would be sad and a little creepy, but frame it in a legend about a kindly old man who flies around the world, delivering happiness to small children everywhere and the story somehow becomes magical.

It is in the hands of advertisers that it loses its soul. Suddenly its sweetness is lost in how many toys your credit card will accommodate before it maxes out. Even kids (especially kids) fall prey to the greedy commercialism that dominates the season. My once innocent little godson has certainly fallen prey. Two words best sum up his feelings about Christmas – "I want". His letter to Santa this year begins with those words. And his list isn't modest either. It reads like a love letter to the inventory of FAO Schwartz with a token "Hope you have a nice Christmas too, Santa" thrown in at the end for good measure (but only after being reminded) before going on to three post-scripts concerning other wants he previously forgot to mention. Don't get me wrong, I love the kid and I get that a lot of his wording is fueled by excitement. It just saddens me that his lust is not tempered by much else. In fairness, one of his later wishes was for Santa to finally remove me from the naughty list, so I guess I can't be too hard on the kid. If nothing else, he has my back. All of this reminds me, if you haven't seen What Would Jesus Buy?, now is a great time to watch it.

Meanwhile, I am trying to get my cheer on. It is not always easy. We put so much pressure on the holidays being a certain way that it's almost impossible to live up to the picture of perfection the advertisers seem to start painting ever earlier each year. There were stores that had started putting out Christmas stuff before Halloween was even over. With exceptions for Dickens and Tim Burton, I don't want ghosts in my wassail. It doesn't help that I just don't have the big, warm family whose happy memories the advertisers are telling me to buy. Don't get me wrong, I have great friends, but my holidays, while generally happy, are often non-traditional. I'm no Bible scholar, but I don't think the birth of Christ was supposed to inspire in me a familial version of penis envy.

I have no idea what we will be doing for Christmas this year, though I sense it will involve food (because, let's face it, most worthwhile things around here do involve food!). We had a really lovely and delicious Thanksgiving at Jen's house that has inspired me to want to cook some fantastic feast. I've been toying with something with eastern spices that would go with the camel caravan rhythms of Lorena McKennitt's A Midwinter Night's Dream. I love this reviewer's description of it:

"It's like a pre-Christian celtic band performing in the Alhambra, accompanied by a couple of local singers and a Dickensian caroler, and it works!"

It really does work. I think it may be my favorite Christmas cd and I think it may also be what I want Christmas dinner to be like this year – dried apricots, spices, pomegranates, plum pudding. Great, now I'm hungry! Just thinking about it is lifting some of the blah away.