Christmas means three very important things to me: The first is the scene in “Talladega Nights” when Ricky Bobby comes home to find his wife with his best friend and asks incredulously, “You want a divorce?” And immediately his two sons throw their arms in the air and exult, “Yay! Two Christmases!”
When I first heard that, I laughed out loud, which movies almost never make me do. And laughing at that particular joke told me the worst of my divorce was over, and my kids and I were going to be OK.
The second great thing about Christmas is that it finally plunges a stake in the heart of The Christmas Season, which is 98% awful. There are glimmers of light, of course. Like the decorations, and the excited kids, and the Sixth Annual Blogger Christmahanukwanzaakah Online Holiday Concert. (And the cookies!) But the rest is just a big pile of Wretched, and for the sake of my sanity, and to preserve the joy of the actual day, I reject it completely.
You know what the most common thing I heard among adults was this month? Not “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays.” It was “Are you ready for Christmas this year?” And they said it in the most dreadful way, like they were boarding up their homes on Cape Hatteras. How is that fun? It’s mostly just a helluva lot of work and anxiety that I and my central nervous system want no part of.
Christmas itself inspires giving and goodwill, but The Christmas Season turns people into ravening sociopaths who cut each other off in parking lots, and pepper spray each other over a cheap toaster. It lays bare our most craven, greedy impulses, and it’s only getting worse. This year, it re-purposed one of my favorite Christmas songs, about valuing people over things, into this dreck banquet of acquisitiveness, product placement, and a 40-year-old woman waggling her badonk at a 17-year-old boy that deserves immediate enshrinement into the FailBlog Hall of Fame.
All for the continuing effort to make us keep filling our stuff-holes, “buying things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.”
OK, that’s not true. I’m happy to say I like my family. And I’m even happier that I’ll be spending Christmas with all of them, including my kids, for the first time in many years.
For seemingly ever, my parents, brother, sister, and I all lived within an hour of each other. The holidays were just a doddle–get up, grab some stuff, and head to whoever’s. And we all took it for granted. But lately, Life has intervened. In the past five years, I’ve gotten divorced and moved to Michigan, my parents have moved to New England, and my brother is in Oregon. Getting all of us under one roof has become a Herculean task, which, this year, we’ve managed to make happen.
And that’s the third thing. I don’t care if I get a single present this year. For the next week I’ll wake up every morning and see my parents dressed for the Yukon in 65-degree weather, my sons fighting over toys with their cousins, my sister cackling at my stupid jokes, and my brother whimpering into his coffee. We will be together, interacting in person, like it always was for so long.
All I want for Christmas is that.