I’m not a Christian. You would perhaps find it odd then that the facets I’ve most enjoyed of the occasional Christmases past are Anglican midnight Masses. Even secularly, they are gorgeous spectacles. But I’m not a Christian. Not in the way most practicing — even merely believing — Christians would allow me; most would call me heathen, a few would avow that in a past life I had wings, then I didn’t have wings and my name began with “L”. Suffice to say I’m not in line with the spooky, paranormal aspect of Christmas. And I’m not referring to the tired argument of Christ’s birth occurring sometime not around 25th December, and also a few years prior to or after the traditional year of the Nativity. Bah, what’s a little timeline shift in a chronicle spanning 2,000 years? As for me, however, I’m talking about the whole shebang, all the trappings of the religion itself: not a Christian.
All the same, every year, as is pretty much the greater American way, I endure Yuletide events — seem to go on and on beginning sometime round the last week of August. And truthfully I’ve had a miserable time of it. We have four or five families — depending on diplomatic relations, you know — to attend to; scheduling conflicts abound, and it’s typically the other party who has all the schedules and I the conflicting. I’ve had miserable Christmases for about the last 37 years, and I’m only 35: that should put you more in less in the frame of the matter.
But by God — of course, that is if I believed in God with a capital “G”; but that’s another philosophation for another day — not this year! Any society, be it large or small, tranquil or contentious, rich, poor or in between, needs some slice out of the calendar to pointedly ignore the shitstorms, privations, starvation, taxation, prosecutions and other woeful meddling bothers of life on this planet, a world that some have noted is only truly beautiful when seen from space. And in the tradition of America, Christmas might as well be it for this country, whether or not you believe. I for one intend to put aside my cursed attitude and humbug ridicule this one year and have some fun with it. Although I do reserve the right to reassess next year.
I’m going to first of all realize that I don’t have to believe in order to get swept up in the better spirit. I can go shopping instead, and not worry about the bills. I’m not kidding. It doesn’t have to be shopping: pick your own outlet: lounge by the fire with a good book; be kind to family members that you loathe; ignore them when they loathe you back anyway; turn off the television news for a few days — when a week later you dial back to CNN, the world will either be there or it won’t, and there’s not much you can do about it in the interim; buy your kids the very thing they weren’t getting this year because it was too expensive or frivolous, just too much or what have you — get it, leave it out Christmas Eve and watch them faint dead away when they wake the following morning.
For those of you in the social-worker Santa’s helpers bunch, you’re probably fairly set with your plans to dish out turkey and stuffing of questionable quality to the homeless and otherwise impoverished. Or you’ve collected toys for those children who would go without if it weren’t for your efforts. But also realize that not every child is going to get a toy, not every homeless will be fed and sheltered, not every schizophrenic will get his meds and a bed for a week or two. You’ll have done what you can, and what you can includes doing something at least near indulgent for yourself. You’ll only be good for the downtrodden masses as long as you last; don’t crack up over those who have already quite cracked up enough for everyone.
To be succinct about it: the hell with you all, I’m going to have a good time this year. And I hope the lot of you will, too, even though that may mean looking after yourselves a bit more than you believe jibes with Christmastime magnanimity. Just don’t jump off the bridge unless you’re really sure about how it is angels get their wings.