This one was written in 2008, when I had a different job and sincerely believed Americans had learned a little humility when it came to consumerism, long before people at WalMart were getting dropped in the name of bargain hunting. Enjoy:
Each year I write some harsh, negative overview of the holiday season and those who observe it with such blind, consumer-based fervor. I would venture to guess most of the vultures have come to expect that from me. It’s what makes me so dad-blamed lovable and, in a few cases, desirable.
I don’t really have anything negative to say about X-mas and it’s less famous siblings this year. 2008 hasn’t really been all that bad for me, despite the national situation. Besides, something has reawakened in me this year, something less gloomy and a tad more positive.
Don’t get me wrong; I am still an angry, disgusted, outraged individual. I still exist on the margins of a society that would love to dispose of me if it could only figure out how to do it. I harbor no delusions that life is a wonderful thing filled with yummy experiences and candy cane romances. If I’ve gained anything at all this year, it is perspective. Bags and bags of perspective.
So this year as I look at my X-Mas tree all lit up in the family room and the few gifts underneath it, I allow myself to experience something akin to nostalgia. It has been eleven years since my mother died and at least eight since I celebrated this holiday with any enthusiasm. This year won’t be radically different, but it won’t be the same either.
Perhaps my feelings have changed in contrast to my fellow Americans. Where once they seemed poised to plunge headlong into stunning and repugnant excess during this time of year, they have been forced by circumstance to reign in their cattle-like behavior. People are doing everything they can to save money, whether by shopping at discount and dollar stores or creating Secret Santa lists so that each person can only focus on one person when buying gifts.
I’m not saying we have become responsible overnight and stopped spending money on frivolous things. I work in an industry that provides the most unnecessary goods and services next to the film industry, yet its profits have not shown a single decline due to the perceived need on the part of the consumer. Good for the company, good for me, but hopefully it won’t cause problems for everyone else further down the line.
The struggle to get people to again say “Merry Christmas” seems to have culminated in a victory. Such a ridiculous thing, really. I hate to agree with Bill O’Reiley on anything. If he said water was wet, I’d probably set about trying to prove it’s dry. But when he said anyone who is offended or has a problem with being wished a Merry X-mas is suffering from his or her own neurosis, he was right. I may reject the "Christian nation” claptrap the Religious Right loves to spew, but the majority population of this country still identifies itself as Christian. Whatever you observe that isn’t X-mas, there aren’t enough of you.
So do us all a favor: Instead of finding it offensive that someone would assume you were part of the majority, simply smile and nod graciously or thank the person while pleasantly informing them it’s not your holiday. .Don’t stupidly boycott businesses and demand equal displays because THERE AREN’T ENOUGH OF YOU.
When someone tells me Jesus loves me, I don’t yell, “And Satan loves you!” the way a certain former Jewish friend once did. I nod and thank the person. Who cares? He’s doing what he thinks is right.
This year people can’t help but get back to the basics of this holiday season. There’s togetherness this year than I've seen since I was young. There will always be those pushy, obnoxious assholes that think their X-mas is the only one that matters, but for the most part, I’ve noticed people acting like human beings again.
So I really can’t be a Negative Nelson this year, much as I might want to be one. I gots to keep it real and be who I is. That’s pretty disappointing, though, isn’t it? Maybe I can compensate with some blasphemous activities.
I will be working a full day on X-mas by choice, so that’s a good start. What else can I do? Santa and Frosty displays in compromising positions? Star Wars action figures incorporated into a manger scene? The X-mas Story retold using Superman? Get my friends to wear Halloween costumes to go caroling door-to-door?
Whatever. Get over yourselves. Merry Christmas.