Saturday, December 09, 2006

I killed Christmas !!!!

If pushed far enough, a person can snap, Slip over and down the slippery slope and careen past the edge of sanity. It was happening. I could feel it. Christmas madness stalking me, laughing it's evil laugh, rubbing it's sadistic hands together in capitalistic predatory glee.

But last week there was a flash of clarity, survival instincts clicked in, and I seized my electronic weapon of choice, an average size, cordless telephone, and struck out at the evil that had become my enemy. The deadly blow was swift and effective.

The fatal act took only an instant. A couple of quick confirming phone calls and my misery was over. Years of buying everybody's presents for everybody else and many out of my own paychecks (many in our family are elderly or disabled and "only I" could get out to the shopping centers-until finally everyone began exchanging gift cards each year. "I'll trade you a JC Penny for a Wal-Mart."), years of doing "all" the cleaning, "all" the cooking for both sides of the family, most of the shopping, the greeting card creating, packaging, mailing, and putting away, and cleaning up has finally come to a screeching halt. No longer am I the Lone Ranger of Tradition Preservation. What is a tradition anyway? Sometimes it is good and provides stability, but sometimes it is an evil deceptively camouflaged in sugary sweetness and light that keeps getting repeated because someone "always did it that way" before. Because it is "expected." Wasn't Satan called the "Angel of Light?" Anyway, I was beginning to see similarities.

I hate Christmas. I've hated it for years, ever since the responsibility for literally everything fell on my shoulders with the weight of chain-maille. December had become the month of migraine headaches and the taking of extra blood pressure pills. To make matters worse, since I've been teaching at the college, it also falls during the stressful end of the semester and final exams when things at work are the craziest. Then topping off the stress level, last year we had the religious war over the ability to call Christmas a Season or Holiday. (That "your belief vs my belief" tantrum "really" made everybody feel more spiritual- I doubt anyone attracted many converts with that anal retentive tirade.) I personally don't care what people say. Anything is a little more soothing than the harsh bell ringing and commercially loaded assault on all things spiritual. Christmas was handed over to the money changers in the temple years ago. The stores are all just hustling junk for holiday shoppers, not preaching sermons. They use various greetings to lure shoppers into spending money. By insisting that only one branch of one religion's sanctioned form of greeting be used, those groups are giving sanction from the church for religion (via that greeting) to be twisted into a tool for corporate gain. When did Christmas get associated with going into debt up to your eyeballs and buying elaborate gifts that no one really wants in order to rescue the ledger balances of every store in America? I don't know. I do know that there is NOTHING SPIRITUAL about all this crass commercialism in the name of Jesus or any other purported deity regardless of what greeting you force people to say. Holding a special service at church, giving token gifts to charity, or saying a few prayers doesn't salvage the fact that it is corporate and sometimes personal greed pushed to an extreme. It isn't even a celebration of children anymore. Each toy is a self-contained ad for a movie or TV show. Christmas has become an evil thing and yet we all feel obligated to perpetuate it. Is this really what Christmas means to us? It shouldn't be. (If it were truly a spiritual celebration, we would be collecting alms for the poor, not worshiping at the checkout isle of every store in the country.)

So, what to do? I felt it stalking closer. I had my first serious headache of the season. Family started moaning about not having enough money to get people gifts without feeling guilty that they couldn't afford to give as much as someone else. (Dread and guilt, feeling impoverished, inadequate, and bad about yourself, nothing spiritual about that.) The heavy discussions about which photos to use for Christmas cards began hanging over my head like an evil Star of Bethlehem. The massive house reorganization took place in time for Thanksgiving which was flanked on both ends by a series of birthdays for 6 family members and those of a couple of friends. We do nothing but purchase overpriced gifts from the end of October until December 25th. Last week I put up the self-lit tree I purchased in the sales at the end of last year. It was smaller and much easier to assemble. I sat on the window seat next to my new tree and tears began to fill my eyes. There is NOTHING SPIRITUAL about Christmas other than using religion as an excuse for creating it. This misappropriation of religion in the name of capitalism is like an evil virus, a red and green plague, that sweeps America each year along with winds cold enough to freeze your tits off.

So sitting there with tears in my eyes, images of the movie "War Games" with Matthew Broderick began to dance like sugar plums through my head. At first the message was soft, distant, fighting to break through the fog of all the hype. Then, in a deep reverberating whisper, I heard the voice of the computer at the end of the movie delivering it's message against nuclear war. It spoke to me like the voice of God. "The only way to win, Betty, is not to play."

This year, and in years to come, we are giving no gifts, none, zip, nada to each other. Corporate America will have to find a way to survive without us. We'll gather for lunch on the 25th, and it will be a family day, much like Thanksgiving. We have decided to make a bigger deal of birthdays and scale this "Holiday Season" crap way way down. We'll keep one small Holiday Tree because it is pretty and gives us colored lights at a time of year when it turns dark too damn early. We'll hang out together and eat because we like each other. It won't have to be me cooking a gazillion course meal by myself and doing all the cleaning after. It could be turkey, or it could be soup, hamburgers, bologna sandwiches, or even a cafeteria. The important thing will be the being together and nothing else. No more massive decorating around the house or in the yard. I'm debating sending cards. If I continue, I may cut the list way way back. Or, I could make them New Years cards instead, or St. Patrick's Day, or 4th of July.

I have become the Holiday Samurai slashing and cutting out any and every thing that perpetuates the madness. But we are adding one new tradition. By making the holiday a celebration of family and our love for each other, we have decided to get a large extended family photo done each year.

Yesterday, for the first time in my life, when I was asked "Are you ready for Christmas?" I giddily answered, "Yes," and suddenly realized that I was. I almost cried all over again.

I feel free. I feel happy. I was even humming holiday songs at the grocery store and I've always hated them before.

At last I can "honestly" wish you all a "Happy Holiday!"
And may the spirit of Christmas live in your heart.


Blogger Rinda Elliott said...

I've had a headache for over a week now. Finally fell prey to a cold virus last night. I get too stressed, as well. I also have many, many friends and family members I love and every single day of every weekend is packed full night and day. I realized the children and I have been running, school work is behind and well, we have serious work issues.

I put my foot down last night wrapped in a blankie and holding a Kleenex. I simply can't make everyone happy and I'm tired. My family and I are spending some quality time together this month. My husband and I are too since it's also our anniversary.

I'm with you. The arguing over Happy Holidays vs. Christmas is ridiculous. I've always said Happy Holidays to include all my friends, Christian and not. This idea people have of the saying taking away Christmas is ridiculous. It includes Christmas. Jeez.

9:56 AM CST  
Blogger Betty S said...

I love the music. I could write a really good Christmas stalker story to that.

12:35 PM CST  
Blogger Heather Harper said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6:48 PM CST  
Blogger Heather Harper said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6:50 PM CST  
Blogger Heather Harper said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6:51 PM CST  
Blogger Heather Harper said...

Jesus was born in a manger, not a mall. So if I'm pegged as the lazy, untraditional mother of the family because I refuse to go into debt for Christmas, I couldn't care less.

6:53 PM CST  
Blogger Heather Harper said...

Did I make my point? Lol. This never posted when I was online earlier. I caught my grammar snafu and tried to cirrect it before it posted.


You can delete the posts if you want. Hehehe.

9:28 PM CST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy Holidays, Betty :)

8:02 AM CST  
Blogger X. Dell said...

You wrote:

"Not being Christian, Happy Holidays or Seasons Greetings were a little more soothing than the harsh bell ringing and commercially loaded assault I've come to associate with the 'Merry Christmas' greeting. I felt like those pompus extremists were attacking my freedom to even have a preference."

I don't know to interpret this as you not being a Christian, but if you aren't, the imposition put on you for the Christmas season seems triply oppressive.

I never thought of myself as being a Scrooge, but when I see the local mall beginning to put up their Christmas decorations during the last weekend of September, then I think we've really missed the point.

I say we celebrte the Saturnalia.

9:23 PM CST  
Blogger Betty S said...

LOL, Heather.

Rinda, you and I always seem to see eye to eye on things.

XDell, I always kept it up because it is important to my 85 year old mother and the kids. The last child just turned 21, and mother was stressing so much on not being able to shop or purchase a lot of gifts. Mom is the last vestige of Christianity in the family. It is her holiday. Once I discussed it with her, she decided that gift giving could go. She isn't suppose to be eating all those fancy foods, etc. She's on more of a liquid diet. It was an opportunity for me to make the transition without hurting her. We'll still have the tree and wish her Merry Christmas. At her age that seems to be enough and sure takes a load off of me.

7:46 AM CST  
Blogger Rachel said...

This is such a great idea. I usually buy my kids and grandkid something but that's it except when I spend 'the day' with M & L and everyone goes crazy for stocking stuffers. I would like to do the no gifts bit except for Griffin.

May you have a very happy day and enjoy your family.

8:42 AM CST  

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