As the "Merry Christmases" keep coming fast, unending and hypocritically nauseating, I could not help but marvel at the metamorphosis of a hitherto pagan festival now coopted completed by Western Christianity in collusion with Keynesian capitalism. The gift giving, card swapping, ham and turkey buying, and the incessant caroling help obfuscate a festival, now tradition, that started in Europe with folklore underpinnings, and made its way to America where it was embellished, reorganized and repackaged with an obese white man in a red suit as its central star and a bastardized version of Saint Nicholas.
Compounding all this we have acute rabid consumerism. This most evident annually by illogical, insane post-Christmas binge buying frenzies that turn into outright violent stampedes in large department stores as stupid shoppers fight for pennies off of holiday deals. There is also the aggravating whining and griping children begging for the latest toy, gadget et al, and an advertising-addicted populace spending more than it can afford all to enjoy the Christmas holidays. Indeed, the God of yore has been replaced by the holy trinity of Greed, Hypocrisy and Stupidity.
But lest you think of me as a grouch or that my cynical side has gotten the better of me, or that I hate Christmas, let me take you on a journey of discovery and edification based on simple observation and practicality. There is absolutely no getting away from the fact that Christmas means different things to different individuals, groups and peoples. But I can't shake the fact that with every Christmas or Holiday card, some turkey or ham stuck in the oven, and the laborious and tedious practice of cooking "Christmas lunch or dinner" for the family there is some very tired men and women, mostly women.
Now relegated to "doing the shopping," cooking, scrubbing, cleaning and preparing, women, and wives with children in particular, never get to enjoy "their Christmas." Many are victims of badgering child harassment from October right into Thanksgiving Day and intensifying and relentless right into Christmas Eve for that "special toy". And each extended family, estranged from each other during the year, suddenly discover the need and urge to "be of good cheer" to siblings, aunts, uncles, fathers and others that they "can't stand" during the year.
The hypocrisy reaches fever pitch with the coming of Christmas Cards wishing you "a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year," as if they really care what the hell happens to you at all. So in the midst of tidying up, cleaning, and planning the Christmas meal, some families are preoccupied with how to handle Uncle Tom who likes to insult everyone after three Jack Daniels, or the talkative Aunty Maggie who knows EVERYTHING with her bratty, greedy children who feel compelled to dip their grubby little paws in the punch bowl and lick the liquid running down their hands.
One can't help but feel sorry for the women and mothers who have childbirth on one end and the urge to be "a mother to all," on the other as they look lovingly at Little Paul the Plunderer, smiling sweetly on the outside but wanting to throttle the little bugger on the inside while uttering a high pitched lunatic laugh in the process. Do you want some more bread pudding love? Maybe with a liberal dash of arsenic in it too? Sweetheart?
Lost in the reverie of the Christmas chatter is the realization that Christmas brings with it more time-consuming details, more crap, more hypocrisy, more food binging, more gift expectations and more tiredness than other annual holidays. And the day in question with friends and family visiting there is the stress of maintaining "family harmony" with a group, with some individuals now drunk, that ordinarily would give each other a wide berth with the qualifying phrase " I can't stand that piece of s**t." Ah, group peacekeeping at home, a truly Christmas tradition. And act of true emollience.
But that's not all. Christmas Day itself is a hugely chaotic happening; what with cantankerous children and warring toddlers running about the place and who still believe the lie stupid parents told them about Santa Claus, flying reindeer, a pot-bellied man in a red suit who loves milk and cookies and who despite his rotund and bulbous size still shimmies down a sooty chimney. That's on the children's side. On the adult end there is attention to turkey, ham and other dead meats all done up and served up with some sauce or the other while imbibing alcohol in various forms that now gives new meaning to the phase "Marry Christmas."
So the question is this: how come family members who hate each other's guts and keep a great distance during the year now decide to coddle up and make good? How come people who never give the poor and needy a second glance become all, well, Christmassy, around December 25? The easy answer is that they are a bunch of hypocrites, of course. Or maybe, it's the season -- it's an infectious thing; then there's the emotion.
Me? I think otherwise. I believe that it's human insecurity and the chance to do something with an otherwise, ordinary, humdrum existence and to prove some crazy philosopher, or somebody who said something about humans marching constantly and decidedly towards death. Thus, by getting into the "holiday mood" people seek to rejuvenate, reinvigorate and "feel good" about their otherwise dreary existence. They embark on and indulge in, if only for a very brief time, an orgy of eating, drinking and gift-giving that resembles a 24-hour triathlon of binging, boozing and forgetfulness.
So for Christmas Day in all homes across the United States there is the customary "Merry Christmas" wishes accompanied by a sanctimonious sense that this one-a-year togetherness is a vital part of the "friends and family" performance destined to reinforce the barely concealed hypocrisy and pseudo morality of the herd mentality. There is the essential make believe that all is well and normal as people devour the baked turkey with stuffing and guzzle down an egg and milk concoction called Egg Nog laced with rum, whisky or brandy all designed to get one "alcoholically merry."
And it's the men who are the loudest, heartiest in the room. Children squabble, sometimes, depending on their age, have already broken that toy they nagged their mother to get them. Sometimes there is loud alcohol-induced singing, there's the fact that Ole Mr. Perkins can't seem to aim right at the toilet bowl and therefore pee is all over the floor, or that Ms. Lucy just keeps belching and putting it down to "the gas." All the while, women and mothers with smiles on their faces pretend that "it's all right," still cleaning, mopping, washing, bringing more food, with no time to sit and enjoy "her Merry Christmas."
I can't help but think that Christmas is a male-centered hustle played out on hapless women. Maybe I'm wrong. What the hell do I know? Ask Mary, the Mother of Jesus, she had to ride almost ready to give birth on the hard back of a jackass chugging along on a bumpy, undulating road. Ah, the more things change is the more they remain the same.