Christmas spirit deserves revival
Published: Saturday, December 17th, 2005
A blood-splattered, life-size Santa stands in a front yard wielding a knife. Wait, it gets better. He’s next to a tree full of decapitated Barbie dolls. Wait, it still gets better. Beside the tree is an evil elf clutching one of the decapitated doll heads that has fake blood streaming from its eye sockets. A scene from Devil’s Rejects? A Nightmare on North Pole Road? No, actually it’s a holiday display in front of a New York City home, a story about which one of my Brooklyn friends forwarded to keep me abreast of Big Apple happenings. And what do I have to say about all this? Too bad she didn’t send a photo. No, I’m not a Scrooge. I just happen to like blood, guts, sinew and really bad zombie movies. So anytime anyone can sneak it into any holiday, I become impressed. My last year’s Christmas card, in fact, was a reindeer skeleton in a merry red St. Nick hat. Gore should not only be hoarded just for Halloween. The people who erected such a Bon Noel display, on the other mitten, did it to make a statement against the commercialism of the Christmas holiday. Although I too get annoyed when stores start piping Christmas carols through the world on Nov. 25 (with subliminal messages that say to buy big gifts) and it was stomach-turning to watch those shopping news segments that had folks punching each other out over laptop computers at Wal-Mart, I have come to accept that everyone, everywhere is out to make a buck. Christmas just gives them a better excuse than usual. Heck, Grandparents Day, Secretary’s Day and a throng of other miscellaneous give-a-gift holidays were invented by Hallmark to — guess what — make money. Another comment on Christmas came from my aunt in Illinois, forwarded from a newspaper in Tampa, Fla. This writer was annoyed he couldn’t wish anyone merry Christmas anymore because it was politically incorrect. He said he was forced to murmur happy holidays, season’s greetings, best New Year wishes or, if he dared bring in the C- word, that is, Christmas, he had to give every other holiday equal time. “Merry Christmas Joyous Kwanza Kick-butt Hanukah and Good Day to anyone who doesn’t celebrate any of this stuff.” With a few holiday seasons spent working in an Orthodox Jewish office, I can relate. But if I recall correctly, which I sometimes do, my coworkers did make a point of wishing me a Merry Christmas (although I was also given a bottle of wine as a bonus when I don’t even drink). If everyone across our great nation is so ticked off about the holiday season, why do we even bother to celebrate it? Just to wear that red sweater we feel we look silly in? We can always save that for St. Valentine’s Day (unless, of course, the “saint” part of the valentine starts to irk still more people). And when I researched subway suicides as part of my thesis — lo and behold — findings pointed to the year-end holidays as the most popular time to find the remains of a depressed New Yorker strewn on the tracks. But there is one very good reason to keep up the façade of a merry little Christmas, and that reason comes with wide, shiny eyes and sleepless Christmas Eves and fudge-smudged little fingers that like to rip open gifts before their time. We have to do it for the kids. Somebody has to do it for the kids. We all grow up quick enough to find the only time someone comes sneaking into your house in the dead of night is to steal from your jewelry box or liquor cabinet. Let them think a jolly fat man squishes himself down the chimney simply to nibble some cookies, sip some milk and leave dozens of gifts hand-crafted by elves who aren’t even clutching dead Barbie heads. Let them live in that magical realm where fairies really do come dance (and clean up dirty socks) and sugar plums are not just a fancy word for prunes. Let the scent of pine overwhelm the anger, the cinnamon outweigh the depression and the laughter of toddlers grow louder in your ears than the grating noise of “O Tannenbaum.” Either that or take to the streets and punch out an inflatable snowman.
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