Sunday, December 02, 2007

it's beginning to look a lot like

Christmas is everywhere. It comes no matter what. It comes whether or not you've been thinking about it, whether or not you're ready, whether or not you're even interested. It comes even if you hate it and wish it wouldn't come. It comes and you can't hide from it. It's right there, everywhere you go. The merchandise is all over every store: red stockings, poinsettias, shiny, plastic balls, fake trees, garland, racks of Christmas c.d.s by people like Alabama and Christina Aguilera. The decorations are up, even on houses in my hip neighborhood. And the music. If you can blind yourself to all the other shit, the music will get you. It will go right inside your head and you won't be able to stop it.

I didn't even try to fight it. I bought Bing Crosby's White Christmas at Fred Meyer today and I'm listening to it right now. May as well. Try as I might, this was my background, my upbringing, my "tradition" if you can call it that. This is my "culture" for lack of a better word. And the songs resonate in a weird place that is usually so small and quiet and hardly known. So "Adeste Fideles" comes on and some weird little place swells up and sings along "Oh come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant, oh come ye oh come ye to Bethlehem."

Why does that tiny place in my heart have to sing for something I can't intellectually tolerate? Why does it have to rear up now when I have no outlet to plug it into? I'm not a Christian, I don't believe Jesus Christ died so I would be forgiven for my sins, I don't even believe there *was* a person named Jesus Christ who's mom rode a donkey to Bethlehem and gave birth in a manger under a particularly majestic star. I don't know what to do with the strange, heart-bursting feelings of nostalgia I get from these songs other than feel them and move on.

Christmas makes me feel like buying presents. For myself. So I went shopping today and bought myself some new jeans and a sweater from the Buffalo Exchange, a new plant from Fred Meyer, and some groceries from Trader Joe's. I thought about buying some decorations: maybe some lights or something, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. I have to take a few passes at committments like this before I can make it stick. I'll probably get something in a few days, once the idea has had a chance to settle in on me. I wouldn't even bother, but my brother might be coming and I guess I don't want the house to feel barren at Christmas. Not that my house feels barren. My house is warm and cluttered and full of plants. But you know. Decorations are different.

I looked for a c.d. of Hannukah music but couldn't find one. Which made me start thinking about how completely ridiculous it is that we're not supposed to say "Merry Christmas" at work, we're supposed to say "Happy Holidays," but which holidays are supposed to be happy? Hannukah? Kwanzaa? Ask anybody on the street when either Hannukah or Kwanzaa actually occur and come back and tell me how many people can answer correctly. Can you answer correctly? No. Sorry. The "holidays" in question are one holiday: Christmas. And Christmas Eve. And maybe New Year's but that's another story. The music in the stores isn't Hannukah or Kwanzaa music, it's Christmas music. Those are Christmas lights in the windows, Christmas decorations all over. It's the height of absurdity to force us to say happy holidays when everybody knows we're talking about Christmas.

Because you know, ultimately, Christmas is a completely schizophrenic holiday. It has multiple personality disorder. For some people Christmas is this holy day when Jesus is supposed to have been born. But for a lot of other people (probably a lot *more* people) Christmas is a secular "holiday" featuring Santa, some reindeer, stockings, a decorated tree and, above all, presents. So, you know, fuck it. If I celebrate "Christmas" it'll be the secular Santa holiday that I remember from childhood. And if I light the menorah during Hannukah, it'll be for SK and because I love the lights and the ritual. And frankly, I don't know anything about Kwanzaa, so I won't even pretend.


Blogger south carolina girl said...

odd you talk about christmas being a secular holiday and most don't realise that, but that is what it has always been to me. if the whole idea behind christmas is jesus, why do they need santa claus, you know...? santamas would be a better name. do not feel bad if you are drawn to it. christmas is grounding and in a weird way soothing. no matter how far you have gone in the past year since the last one, you can always come home. now that i've turned into a philosophical bullshitter i want to write a christmas post, lol....good post, i liked it :)

7:55 PM  

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