As Christmas trundles onto the main stage to provide the audience with another gaudy burlesque, I am reminded that the Jesus kid, were he around today, would probably either be trying to put a stop to all the slander his good name has endured by slamming Western culture with a high profile lawsuit or else have his own line of chic yet affordable Shroud of Turin loinwear. For once again, we are treated to a holiday season which doesn't even bother to put up any pretense to its origin, opting instead to be brazen and sans irony about its true purpose: to bring Americans to a fevered, panting orgasm of consumerism.
Christmas is the Dick Cheney of holidays: it purports to be there for noble purposes but blatantly demonstrates wholly unholy ones. Why even bother pretending to be an elected servant of the people or a joyous time of reflection on the birth of a savior? Go fuck yourself to all and to all a good night.
Even though the idea of Christmas can still stir some emotion in my secular spirit I know that it's based not on the vestigial good will I may have toward my fellow citizens but on nascent hopes I entertained as a child, susceptible to such sentimental catalysts like A Charlie Brown Christmas or Miracle on 34th Street. Rather than imbue me with an optimism that was applicable in every day life, they resulted in emotions wrung out in response to these and other expertly crafted flickering fairy tales; more manipulation for marketing's sake. Kris Kringle and Charlie Brown were put upon and tortured for our sins and Macy's, Gimbel's and Snoopy had more than capably replaced the three wise men.
And yet, there is real sensual enjoyment to be gotten from the rituals associated with this time of year: the sight of a humble but gorgeously bedecked Christmas tree; the sound of snow crunching under foot on the way to midnight mass; the perfect timbre of a chorale---all of which makes your soul feel as though it's being plucked by a universal luthier. You vibrate sympathetically as though your body were answering an ancient call to participate in something bigger than could ever be imagined by the limits of religious iconography or the Made in Taiwan flimsiness of seasonal bunting.
Since the species seems for the most part to be tumbling headfirst into a cyber abyss (thanks, Facebook, for becoming the physical manifestation of six degrees of separation---how could one NOT fall into that ego-oubliette?) it is sentiment rather than intellect which remains the best hope of defining our humanity in this cold consumer culture. While reason may have failed us, or perhaps more charitably brought us to a point where actual, physical participation is no longer expected or required, our need to find our way through sweet memories of sights, sounds, tastes, touches and smells formed in our youthful, hopeful stages before we awoke to the monolithic, monetary reality of Christmas® may be our way back to a more meaningful observation of the holiday. Because with every passing moment of ersatz representations of holy days and holy men, reality becomes so much less inviting.
So why not wallow in or at least savor---if briefly---the sweetness of simplicity and celebrate Christmas within the sentimental realm of the senses? In times like these, it's the best gift money could never buy.