Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Boycott Christmas 2011

It's that time again, time for my annual anti-Christmas screed. Just can't get through the holidays without one. I did my annual torture session this afternoon, venturing out to the local post office to get holiday stamps. It was packed to the gills, as it always seems to be this time of year no matter when you get there. There are six service windows at the post office, and I've never seen more than two of them in use at any one time. It's really kind of amazing how unprepared people are when they show up at the post office. They bring some stuff they want to mail someone, buy one of those flat rate boxes, and bring everything up to the counter and expect the postal employee to pack it, tape it up, put the label on it, stamp it a couple of times with some ink stampers and then send it on its way. While observing all this I have to amuse myself in order not to get completely psychotic, so I imagine they're stamping rude stuff all over the package. Like "Eat Shit," "Bite Me," or "Christmas Crap." That should give Grandma pause when the package is delivered.

So after that ordeal was over I had to start decorating the outside of the house, so I went to the garage and dragged out the Big Box Full Of Holiday Joy. This is the 16th December that I have lived in my home, and you'd think I would have this decorating thing pretty well down by now. But Martha Stewart I am not. I do have the outside of the light boxes marked as to which lights go where and how the plugs get connected together without causing the fusebox to ignite in a major conflagration. There are several cacti growing in the front of my house, and this year has been a banner year for them (who could have known that plants will "grow" if you "water" them regularly?). They have grown like crazy and have stretched their fishhook-laden arms wide and far in many directions, which makes hanging the lights a bit dicey. I know that if I slipped off the small ladder I use and fell on one of them, my Christmas would be over in about two seconds.

The holiday season got an early start this year, and I was treated to my first Christmas TV commercial the day after Halloween. It was some jewelry store flogging tacky, overpriced baubles and they did a full-on Santa-and-the-Reindeer push. I looked at that and then I looked outside at the 98-degree sunshine and I thought to myself, this is going to be a long season. The commercials which continue to baffle me are the ones for the luxury car dealers, like Lexus and Mercedes. They encourage us to come to their showrooms and purchase a very expensive car for that certain-someone as a gift. Really? Giving a car as a present? That is so far off my gift-giving radar it's like science fiction to me. People actually do that? I think it's a ploy to keep the Gigantic Red Bow manufacturers in business.

But of course, it doesn't have to be so. As in past years, I choose not to participate in the hoopla, the blind greed, the crass materialism, and all the phony hokum that is part-and-parcel to the holiday season these days. I've reduced greatly the amount of time I waste parked in front of the TV, and what I do watch I choose with a lot more care, leaning toward HBO and Showtime, the commercial-free networks. I avoid like the plague the local Phoenix channels, which are pathetically, laughingly provincial in their deliberate lack of anything resembling sophistication. I guess I was spoiled after living in Washington DC and San Francisco for almost 15 years and watching the world-class television coverage of their local stations. Phoenix television is incredibly amateurish in nature, and much more suited to a medium-sized television market somewhere in the lower Midwest, instead of the sixth largest metropolitan area in the nation.

But, I digress. I'm really enjoying my time reading lots more books on my e-reader, writing my stories and my blog, spending time with my friends and my bunnies, and just relaxing at home dressed in my flannels and staying warm and cozy while an early December cold snap has the desert locked in an unfamiliar but refreshingly chilly grip.

While I would certainly never presume to tell anyone how to celebrate the holidays, I always recommend to my friends to say no to the hysterical consumerism of this season. Things always get off to a big bang with the loathsome, execrable pseudo-holiday "Black Friday," the day after Thanksgiving, followed by "Cyber Monday" and "Green Tuesday." I'm sure in the near future they'll be coming up with other shopping themes for the rest of the week following Thanksgiving.

To that end, I ask my friends not to buy me any kind of gift this year. I have far too much stuff as it is, certainly everything I need and most of what I want. I suggest they send their money to their favorite charity (and mine is Brambley Hedge Rabbit Rescue), or spend it on themselves, their pets or someone who could really use it. But as I get older I realize the gift that is truly important to me and imparts a lasting feeling of gratitude, is spending time with my chosen family here in Phoenix. Whether it's sharing a meal, or a coffee at Starbucks, or just a long conversation on the phone, these types of things are the most gratifying and the most memorable to me. I've certainly forgotten whatever gifts I got five years ago, but I remember the times I've spent with people I love, and the warm friendship and camaraderie shared. That, to me, is the true spirit of the holiday.

Oh, and yes, it just wouldn't be the holiday season without the religious nuts whining and moaning about people using the term "holiday" or "Xmas" instead of "Christmas." Well guess what, Xians? Not everyone in this country celebrates Xmas. People of the Jewish faith celebrate Hanukkah, African-Americans celebrate Kwanzaa, Wiccans celebrate the Solstice, etc. But, with their usual narrow-minded selfishness and their unhealthy preoccupation with ramming their beliefs and delusions down everyone's throats 24/7, the Xians rail on and on about "their" holiday and how everyone is corrupting and ignoring it. As far as I'm concerned, they can have their holiday back with all the greed and avarice and single-minded obsession with buying and receiving crap. It makes so much more sense to celebrate the solstice, which is much more inclusive of everyone and really, that was the way things used to be before the Xians stole the pagan celebration for their own nefarious purposes.

Because as with our lives in general, it doesn't matter what you give or get, or how much junk you have when you die; what really matters is how you spend the time that you have.

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