12/05/2003

The Christmas Rant

Temperatures are dropping. The chill of the wind is mimicked by the ice-cold expressions on the faces of passersby on the streets. Fire hazards in the home are increased ten fold as rotted strands of colorful lights are hung on dead trees propped up on top of shag carpet. It's the time of year when we put aside our differences and exchange a list of demands with all those dearest to our hearts. Ladies and gentlemen, it's Christmas time.

What's bugging me this year is that the usual traditions just don't seem to inspire that old holiday spirit like they used to. For example, holiday programming like “A Charlie Brown Christmas” used to instantly renew the warmth and solace one comes to expect each and every holiday season. Now I just tune in and think to myself: "What's the hell is wrong with that Charlie Brown?"

In addition to being a manic-depressive, the kid is only ten years old and already he's in the latter stages of male pattern baldness. That fashion sense of his isn't doing much for his chances with the ladies either. That shirt with that disgusting shade of orange and a black zigzag? Where the hell did he pick up that number? And why doesn't he ever wear anything else? Queer Eye would have had a field day with this kid's wardrobe.

You figure that back in the 70s, even a guy like Charlie Brown would pick up a pair of platform shoes and a fuchsia polyester suit with a giant collar. Maybe even a cane and a big purple hat with a feather in it. They’d call him Big Daddy Brown and you would think twice about fooling around with his Peanuts. And suddenly, the meaning of Christmas is lost.

Holiday shopping would keep me entertained, if it weren't so pathetically tragic. You can't help but think there are some repressed emotions surfacing for the forty year old parent scrambling through a department store at seven in the morning to get his two year old kid the doll she doesn't even know that she wants.

By the way, where the hell did the twelve days of Christmas come from? No, no, no. One day of Christmas! Not twelve. I wonder if that refers to the number of days Mother Mary was in labor. If so, that would explain her child's name. Because after almost two straight weeks of childbirth, all you really can do is scream "Jesus Christ!" when the kid finally comes around. Badoom-ching!

No, that probably isn't where we get the twelve days. I think it's just the Christian way of competing with the Jewish holiday of Hanukah. It's kind of like the religious version of the networks' Sweeps Weeks. What probably happened is that around a thousand years ago, a Christian accountant was looking at declining church attendance and needed a gimmick to put some repented butts in the seats. He probably thought to himself, "Christmas has a great time slot. I mean, it comes right around Hanukah. But eight days versus one? We can't compete with that! We've got to do something fast." I suspect that the number twelve was chosen simply to reaffirm the fundamental Christian belief of being one and a half times better than any Jew.

There are other things that bother me about the holiday season, like Christmas trees. I don't know where this custom comes from, but I am just not seeing how making an annual tradition of slaughtering entire forests of evergreen trees is supposed to represent the birth of Christ.

Maybe it's just because my family has the absolute worst luck when it comes to buying a tree. We've tried everything. We've bought our trees early; we've bought them late. We've had them cut down fresh and we've picked them out of a Dairy Queen parking lot. Somehow, we always end up with ugliest looking trees you have ever seen. You know that tree you see and you wonder, "Who the hell would ever buy that scraggly, rotting thing?" That would be us. I just don't get it.

When I was seven, we went out to a tree farm and chopped down our very own tree, just like Jesus used to do. After three hours of scouring acres of identical trees, my little hands burned raw from lugging around an axe that weighed more than me, we found ourselves a beauty: full, symmetrical and strong. Within a week our living room was blanketed with orange needles. With ornaments glistening and lights blinking, our once beautiful tree was standing naked above the mess like a proud infant who just learned how to take off his own clothes. The holiday season tends to change for a seven year old when he sees decorations hanging limply from the barren branches of a lifeless tree. I guess it teaches him the emptiness of materialism. Or that his family is too freaking lazy to water the damn tree.

Anyway, I think that I've done my part to spread the holiday cheer. I believe we've all learned that the holiday season isn't about presents, television or decorations. It's about being together and appreciating the wonderful gifts we are given each day. That is unless I get screwed again and end up with a pile of ugly sweaters, knitted socks and certificates of donations made in my name to a Save the Christmas Trees fund. In that case, I'm converting to Judaism. Happy holidays, Drexel.

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