Christmas Is a Crock

Hooray!  The time has come once again for the enforced celebration of collective consumption!  Shout out Hallelujah as the change in the drawers of cash registers rings out everywhere, and electronic voices thank you for your use of automatic teller machines.  Let’s commemorate the festering festivities by conforming by hook or by crook, lest we trigger frowns from those around us by screwing up their mood with Scroogian lugubrium and the inviting investigative scrutiny of the overfed feds.

What makes Christmas time so miserable for some of us is not merely the meretricious mercantile insidiousness of insipid cringeworthy jingles or the sight of happy loving couples holding hands in public in a state of incipient bliss so much as being separated from faraway loved ones.

Of course, it’s our own fault for choosing lonely independence over the comforts of family and the hearth and home, even if it throws us into codependent relationships and makes us betray ourselves and results in the unseasonable seizure of our dreams.

Christmas time reminds you too, at least when you’re an adult, how hollow is the commercialism contaminating the saccharine sanctimonious season of socially-mandated sentimentality.

As I grew up Episcopalian and didn’t see the light of atheism until I was twelve, I’m less averse to some of the hymns that people sing at Christmas time than I am to the cheesy likes of the inescapable “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,” “Jingle Bells,” and “All I Want for Christmas Is You” (perhaps the worst of the lot, especially since it equates romantic love with the material possession of another human being, so that you have absolute hegemony over that person’s body, mind, heart, soul, and bank account–in other words, marriage).

In fact, I even miss going to church (God forbid!) with my family on Christmas Eve, since in later decades attending that haunted house became a mere once a year deal, and joining the congregation in singing “Hark!  The Herald Angels Sing,” “Joy to the World” (the Three Dog Night version is also good), “Gloria in Excelses Deo,” and “We Three Kings of Orient Are.”  “O Holy Night” is another beauty (although I’ve only heard it and never sung it).  Apart from the presumably fallacious premise of these hymns (namely, the belief in a resurrected figurehead), at least their sole reason for being isn’t sheerly to make a buck (well, okay, maybe nowadays. . .).

That’s why you’re not apt to hear them very often outside of a church on Christmas Eve anymore in the first place.

Of course, you could also argue that people who’ve chosen or been brought up under a different faith–Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Zoroastrians, Scientologists–might take offense at having to hear some choir giving it up for Jesus in a restaurant or hardware store.

Understandably, too.  And yet, we all put up with the Santa Claus mantra, just as we’re forced by collective compulsions and the gorgon of conformity to worship at the altar of the Almighty Dollar and Mama Mammon.

Nevertheless, for those of you who do celebrate the holiday, I wish you an incredibly merry Christmas.  I hope you’re able to glean some joy or at least a modicum of pleasure from the day itself despite the jacked-up hype that’s turned the whole month of December into a gigantic shopping spree and made each of us coerced by tradition into a chainsaw-bulldozer hybrid, unless we find more creative and understated ways to celebrate the occasion.

As a jaded old cynic, my approach is to opt out entirely.  That makes me feel as merry as hell.



4 thoughts on “Christmas Is a Crock

  1. It is not an easy time of year, Stu, for all the reasons you so curmudgeonly express. I think I’ll have to borrow “Scroogian lugubrium”. I love that. I think I’ll need a hat to go with it.

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