When it’s all over and done with, what do you suppose you’ll remember about this Christmas season?
Huh? Might this be the year you’re so overcome by the warmth of family love and/or reverence and/or goodwill to jolly gentlemen and peace on earth that you are a changed person forever on and will never again be without a big smile on your face? Could this be that
Christmas, the one you’ve seen in so many of those Hallmark movies and holiday specials from the Osmonds and Charlie Brown?
Or perhaps you’re expecting to pull something from under the tree that is so unexpected, so marvelous, such an enormous surprise that Xmas Version ’13 will go into your memory chip as the bestest ever? Is this the One?... that special, special One you’ve been waiting for all of your life, or a least since that other special, special One back when you were 8 years old when you opened the big box with your name on it, and found inside that once-in-a-lifetime bike/puppy/Red Ryder BB Gun with the lever action and the compass built into the stock, and that every Christmas since then has been a dismal let-down because nothing could ever, ever
top that and as you grew older, you came to realize that never again would you get your proper share of that joy-frosted fruitcake and Hallelujah-soaked mistletoe that everyone else was either getting or were pretending to get, and you’ve tried everything from stomping over old women during Black Friday sales to collecting toys for tots to spending Xmas Eve watching the Pope light candles, but nothing helped as one Christmas piled onto another like dead noble firs dripping limp tinsel left out by the curb... but now everything is going to change and you will be swept away by how wonderful your life is because this is the year you will finally, finally
be filled with that holiday magic that you’ve heard so much about, and it’s all because of... what
I know you know what I’m talking about. What is it about this Christmas that will make it stand out from all of the others?
Really, I don’t have to tell you that everything else will be pretty much the same as always, do I? Yeah, I suppose there may be a few new features—”apps,” I believe they’re called—on whatever fancy high-def gizmo you have waiting for you in that sock hanging from the mantle, and your Aunt Tilly might throw a surprise ingredient or two into that Jello salad she brings every year. This may also be the year that somebody thinks to buy batteries before-hand so that the poor kiddies don’t have to push their remote-operated toys around by hand. And who knows?... come Christmas Day, there might even be something on teevee you haven’t seen before.
But those are merely the shiny wrapping paper and curly bows on the main event. I’m trying to get at that thing inside, underneath all the forgettable details and commotion, the drudgery of going through essentially the same damn routine year after year, the worry, the fuss, the emptiness and inadequacy and impoverishment you feel down deep because nothing about this—not a god damn thing about this, especially that “Reason for the Season” bull—comes anywhere close to living up to the myth and hype and expectations that surround it—not when you’ve known since the Nixon administration that the real reason for the season is about nine-tenths retail and one-tenth silent night/holy night.
So again I ask, when it’s all over and done with... when all that’s left are the dried pine needles getting kicked all over the house and the shredded wrapping paper stacking up in the corners like mouse carcasses and the dread of knowing that in just a few days, when the credit card statements come in, you will have to start paying for all that Christmas Spirit that didn’t quite get as far as you... what do you suppose you will remember about this Christmas season?
Isn’t it obvious? Are you that
dead to the miracle of it all?
Well wake up and smell the eggnog, pinhead! This is the year—according to that red-nosed elf Bill O’Reilly—that the War on Christmas came to an end. It’s over! Mission Accomplished! Bring home the Salvation Army. Xmas won, and all the enemies of Xmas lost! Yay!
So sleep tight tonight, children. The tradition has been secured. Santa, Jesus, those generically tacky manger scenes out front of every tacky mega-church, all the endless sugary carols dripping out of the overhead speakers wherever you shop, they’ve all been saved. And next year, sometime around Halloween, we can start all over again.