Sunday, December 06, 2009

My heart or my shoes?

Well, we did have a lovely Saturday evening and Sunday morning.

Saturday we went down to Sellwood and met some friends for dinner and some butt-kicking roller derby

thanks to Portland's own Axles of Annihilation and the Terminal City Rollergirls. And from there to a lovely, romantic evening at Bellaterra in the Lair Hill district of the southeast. Leisurely bathing, breathtakingly quiet - ah! quiet! - connubial entwineage, good books, and then a lazy morning rising in our own time, an apple-sausagey, whole-grain-pancake sort of breakfast before stopping at Dutch Bros. for a breve' on the way home to little hugs from happy peeps.Mmmmm. Nice.

But after a quiet noontime and early afternoon it was agreed that we'd saddle up and head out to acquire some Xmas decorations. This meant the local Goodwill, since Mojo and I agree that this sort of seasonal crap is best purchased cheap and nasty.

And cheap and nasty it was; most of the light-up candy canes, hoops, trains and related wenceslausery was nonfunctional, the kitsch level was set firmly at 11 and the entire thing grated on my nerves like exposed wires. I was pleased when we escaped with a minimum of the "holiday" stuff and went for a beer.I thought it was just me being bitchy most of the evening until I had the warm glow of a doppelbock or three inside me and recognized it for what it is: the increasing and violent antipathy I treasure towards the American "holiday season".

In other words, "Christmas" (as it is meant in 68% of the continental United States, Alaska and Hawaii), is humbug.

Loud, glittering, expensive, empty, meaningless humbug.I'll give you that there is a germ of a notion of a deeply warm and human ideal buried deep at the heart of it, the notion of a loving God made man, of a divine love so deep that it can only be expressed in the innocence of a baby and the voluntary sacrifice of a man.

But the burial sure is ugly. From the earliest revisions and lies (Judean shepherds weren't watching their flcks by night in December, bucko - that was the early Roman church competing with the Mithras cult and the various winter solstice celebrations) to the appalling, nearly overwhelming commercialism and rampant materialism of today's Christmas orgy of greed, the Currier-and-Ives, White-Christmas, holly-and-candle faux New England crap...And it doesn't help when you're a stone cold atheist, either...

Hey, pal, I like pretty lights, too. And I appreciate that many people manage to make this a time of great quiet joy. But those people don't run TV advertising or window displays, or sell the beer, or start the wars. I thought that having kids would reinvigorate my "joy" for the holiday, but instead it's exacerbated my loathing of the hucksterism aimed at everyone (but especially kids) while reminding me that once I attained an income and had no need to beg for my wants as presents I had no real need for or appreciation of Christmas other than as a supposed time of peace and grace more typically dominated by the usual human pursuit of gain and dominance. We really are predictably grabby little monkeys, aren't we?

So every year I feel less and less between Thanksgiving and the New Year but an irked irritation at the increasing distance between the way we Americans "celebrate" this holiday and the ostensible reason for it; a curmudgeonly feeling, no doubt, but my own.And a handful of others', perhaps...


Pluto said...

FDC: the increasing and violent antipathy I treasure towards the American "holiday season".

You are not alone in this sentiment. I have felt this way increasingly since I was 16 and can now barely stand to be in the same house with a Christmas tree. It causes a certain amount of marital friction because the spouse admits that it is empty, frivolous, and expensive but still enjoys the holiday quite a lot.

So I keep my mouth shut mostly to avoid hurting her feelings but I will NEVER willingly see "A Christmas Carol" again.

Red Sand said...

I'm very, very glad we don't watch live tv. Everything we watch has the ads removed.

I'm with you on most of the sentiment and the reasoning behind it, but am one of those who has a renewed appreciation for the beauty of the lights and the melodies (not so much the lyrics) this year for obvious reasons. Me, an agnostic, busier with music at this time of year than I am at any other. I will even be in a church twice this month!

And since the kiddos are too young to understand any of it, there's none of the urgent 'need' that goes along with the possibility of gifts.

Lisa said...

The holidays seem to grow more virulently commercial as I grow older.

While I don't watch t.v., I have seen a few seasonal commercials for GAP and Old Navy, and they are quite repulsive to me. While the tagline may say "Merry Christmas", in truth, the ads say "shopping is the reason for the season.