Attack of the Season
It's not that I hate Christmas, I just feel attacked every year. And like some kind of cold-war escalation it gets a little more militant, more strident and more abusive every year.
The army wears green, not camo, mind you… the uniform looks more like a Robin Hood outfit, which is fitting because their mission is to take from the rich. And the poor. Then there's the soft sound of sleigh bells is like the drumming of the warriors on the hill -- a warning that you're about to be attacked with a deluge of advertising.
I don't know why the stores think that playing the same songs over and over again are supposed to make me want to shop more. I'm guessing this is how Manuel Noriega felt when US troops surrounded his compound in Panama and blasted bad '80s music at him. The music wasn't meant to make him happy and compliant, it was a torture device.
Which is how I feel every time I hear another Christmas carol with commercial lyrics. Heck, I don't even need commercial lyrics -- just the hint of Hark Hear the Bells or The Twelve Days of Christmas and my psyche drops into a defensive posture.
It seems I've been conditioned to distrust anything to do with Christmas even after cutting through all the pitchmen dressed as Santa, the heavenly trumpets blaring the incredible savings, and the $1,200 stocking stuffers from De Beers.
Because once I cut through the commercial attack, there's always the Christian Right. Or the Christian Center. Or the Pagan Left. Actually, I'm cool with the Pagan Left -- they have good drinks and great parties where you drive away the darkness and most of the Pagans I know are vague enough on what they really believe that you never feel attacked.
But you can't really separate the Christ from Christmas. And then everyone assumes that you're a Christian, or even if you're not, that you're on board with the baby Jesus thing. Only, I'm not, really. Which leaves a lot of awkward pauses in conversation when I really don't want to get into a religious conversation by the punch bowl.
Then again, a good Christmas service at least feels real. Maybe not my reality, but I take in a good midnight mass the way I view the traditional dances of some distant tribe -- it's cultural, even if it isn't spiritual to me.
And that's probably my biggest problem with the season -- the culture of Christmas has no soul, no spirit, no emotion. The Spirit of Christmas is something that I don't really believe in, so I don't have that to fall back on. But from October to January the activities of Christmas crowd out the rituals of the of the Fall harvest, the quiet of winter, and the reflection of a passing year.
Oh well, at least the weather is supposed to be okay this weekend when I hang the lights…