My mother was a young girl when she had me. My mother was a child when she had a baby. My mother got married and had four years of play time, her and my father pretending to be mature, until routine struck and then they both fled matrimony; leaving me and my first cat “Sunshine” to fend for ourselves. Christmas was idyllic in that way it can be for young children. The fresh scented tree, the tinsel and ornaments, the various shaped boxes and bustle of activity; all things which really excite a child. So from one to five it was gravy. I can remember so much. From six to nine the “I want….” Somehow replaced “what did I get” By the time I was a ten I just realized I didn’t get to see my mom as much and what I wanted was kinda irrelevant.
Conventional wisdom has always worked with the concept that Christmas is when the curtain is drawn tightest, no one is supposed to break the 4th wall. Your observations and doubts, your money woes and struggles are supposed to wait patiently for the garbage bag that you put all the packaging and wrapping paper in. The new year is a time to deal with truths, the end of the year is for celebration. But in our newly godless state it’s much harder to put the burden of happiness on ol’St Nick. If our Gods are falling, only worshipped by the most adamant of believers, how well can our fables suffer the truth.
While checking the mail this weekend I saw a letter from Santa Claus addressed to my seven year old. I’m not going to lie, my first response was to tear it up. That thought came over me cause her biological father is a –redacted-. As adults we’re just supposed to channel the good, for the children. I’ll do my best, Nick; I’ll get to her. It did bother me, but that is more cause in some ways, my choice really, he gets to have the fun and for me I just have to figure out the logistics.
The year before last our (then) 11 year old had to bite her tongue as she was resentful that she had to give up on the Santa concept. This occurred naturally, no one was trying to bring Nick down. I think her class had shifted finally to “you’re a sucker if you still believe in that red suited guy.” She was ready to be a whistle blower though and she didn’t want to keep the secret from our youngest. We admonished her not to be a dick and then-not without some mirth, pointed out that if she did let loose with the truth our youngest might further get her ire by being indifferent to the news.
In some ways Santa at least takes the heat off of you. “Why didn’t Santa pimp my tree with bad ass giftery?” you can shrug “Maybe this year we have to be nicer and holster our naughty.” Or “Maybe Santa is helping the under privileged kids and he’s stretched thin. ” The day she realizes Santa is gone will be without fanfare, I’m almost certain. It will not be like how our eleven year old felt, one more foundation of her innocence crumbling. Some kids think you’re a dick when they realize that the big man is not real and you were lying to them, because they definitely feel like it was a lie, a lie they want to continue to believe, but can’t. Other kids just come into the truth in their own time, they move on. They cross Santa off of their letter writing campaign and come directly to you with a list of demands and hopes.
The first few years I can remember the tree would just be there one day and the gifts would trickle in. By the time Christmas came around there would be a good stack of squares under the evergreen and we’d be excited. Really though it’d just be me. My mother wasn’t angry, she just always had to work more for the holidays, so I spent a lot of time by myself, shaking the boxes, curiosity growing stronger by the day. I’d go slowly from jostling to just our right SIDS, hoping to figure it out. I’d do my best to peek through any breeches in the wrapping. One year I finally thought “I’ll just open one, what could happen.” It was a small one, so I figured (wrongly) that it’d be no big deal if my deed was discovered. Little did I know that it was the Darth Vader wristwatch. You know the one (If you’re under 35 you actually don’t know the one.) with Vaders arms keeping time and one of the arms held a light saber. I’m not making that up, right? That caused quite the stir, my mom was pissed. Worse yet, opening gifts before their time ruins the appreciation, like it somehow robs you of ever enjoying it. I was a shit kid and I don’t think I ever believed in Santa, the logistics of one night and this mutant deer named Rudolph, lighting the way with his nose while this fat white guy dropped off gifts to everybody… When you’re low on motor skills and can’t focus, the thing where they throw bizarre concepts at you for explaining a needless giftthathon is bizarre.
Screw Santa. Screw Christmas. Screw Holiday cheer.
Ok. Christmas isn’t for you, another one I was told coming into my thirties “We just do Christmas for the kids now.” The kids live Christmas every day. The Christmas model worked in the old days cause we didn’t have shit. It was great cause your parents put shit on layaway six months in advance and busted their ass to give you a life bonus, if you were a shitty kid you were still guaranteed to get a little something. If you were a mediocre kid, this was your day to rake it in and if you made your parents proud, well hell, they’d whore themselves out, at the office or in a stranger’s bed to see you be happy.
Christmas is a hard thing to live up to.
I didn’t tell our eleven year old at the time “If anyone is going to shit on Christmas it’s going to be me.” I mean, there is no upside to ruining Christmas. People who still like December 25th should lead the brigade, the rest of us should shut the heck up. I mean like we should for damn sure not be writing this.
Again I say Screw Christmas.
So in our house one little child holds all dear and still wills Santa to bring his diabetic ass to our roof, where he is supposed to then shimmy down our exposed (architecturally revealed) fireplace and leave the hot gift action for our daughter. So it is here that I write about my frustrations. Except, I don’t know what I’m frustrated about, that’s not true, I kinda know what it is.
I’m pissed off we gave up on God so easily, but we’re still messing around with Christmas. It confuses me to no end that all the atheists soak up Christmas and then scoff that people who believe in God are the big idiots, really. I’m pissed off that we gave up community for the suburbs and enclaves. I’m confused that the marketers have refashioned God into fresh scents and chipotle flavor, chromed plastic and modern amenitiesI’m sick of consumption, but totally ok with deep research of new crap as a form of distraction meditation.
The world has moved on and it’s bumping past me while I stand still and try to take it all in.
I love Christmas. I used to love Christmas. I’m not sure how I feel about Christmas.