I suffer from a long history of despising the holidays. Perhaps it’s a manifestation of Seasonal Affective Disorder. But when I look at the fervor people inflict upon themselves during the last month of the year, I can’t but shake my head in wonder. At my most accommodating, I say it’s a waste of effort. At my worst, I say it’s hypocritical.
Having been known for vitriolic effluvium on the topic of Christmas, I will spare you. I know that I would alienate almost all my tiny readership. Too many years inside the retail frenzy has further tainted my view. Too many years living the hype of Christmas Present and feeling let down afterward, too. The light, the glitz, the charade; if one looks at a plastic tree long enough, the illusion fades – so too, the holiday season.
Perhaps my position as a self-imposed exile and unabashed misfit, I see what other miss. Rather, I see what others choose not to. I watch people supplant material goods with friendship, dollars with devotion. I see others force weary smiles while meeting with people they would rather not, and straining to buy gifts for the girlfriends of second cousins that might not be around next year. I ponder the holiday office party dynamic, where otherwise incompatible people, forced together for economic purposes, and whom often only have their jobs as a common thread, pretend to be friends with feared bosses and associates whose emails ticked them off last week.
As for “Peace on Earth,” and “Goodwill to Men,” I’ll leave it up to you whether we achieve this as a yearly goal, or even as a brief glimmer of distant possibility – especially this past year. I find it difficult, here, to resist harping on Christmas as anathema to peace. But I wouldn’t want to hurt any feelings. Christians are not known for their openness to other viewpoints. Whole nations have been put to the torch for not converting to their worldview; just ask the Sioux. Alas for Peace and Goodwill, we’ve barely met.
Why must we force this illusion of Joyeux Noël upon ourselves? If we love another, we love them always. If we are fortunate enough to have friends, they are always our friends. Must we save our feelings for year’s end, to burst forth in a frenzy of forced and orchestrated expression? If we truly care for the wellbeing of unmet humanity, why wait to give? Everyday is an opportunity to show love, help others, and give of our copious moneys to the less fortunate. Everyday is a chance to eliminate hunger, share compassion for our species, and end warfare.
To take a holiday from our routine of destruction and slaughter, to brashly display an ethical ideal we refuse to actually live, all for the sake of a religious idol not shared by all, is outrageous. To tout peace and wave the banners of harmony only for a brief season is hypocritical. To stand among the masses and support national atrocities in the name of one religious ideology, one political expression, is beyond insane – it is pathological insanity. Yet this is what we do, and we think nothing of it. That is my point: we don’t think about what we are doing. We become willing toys of the greed industry while unthinkingly parroting bad ideas in the name of tradition. It is dangerous for people to live their lives without thought to consequences, exponentially so when so many do it.
So, sip your eggnog and know others are starving. Carve your roast beast and wonder whose child dies tonight from hunger. Buy your disposable trees and know the forests are depleted. Plug in your lights: the coal miners thank you, and the air will never taste sweet again as you add more plastic festiveness each year, taxing the power grid and poisoning the air for senseless and tasteless displays. By all means, enjoy your holiday, but think about what you do.