Charlie Brown: [Charlie Brown and Linus stop at a wall on their trip to the pond for ice skating]
I think there must be something wrong with me, Linus.
Christmas is coming, but I'm not happy. I don't feel the way I'm supposed to feel.
How are we supposed to feel? I had the TV news on tonight. On Christmas Eve, it's always the same 3 stories:
1) Christmas Eve mass at the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul,
2) NORAD supposedly following "Jolly Ole' Saint Nick" on his trek around the world and,
3) Last-minute holiday shoppers being kicked out of local malls because it's 6 o'clock and they should have thought about this stuff a month ago.
The same old, same old. The other underlying theme of the local news is that "Christians everywhere are celebrating Christmas" as though Christians are the only people decorating trees and exchanging gifts on Friday. That's a load of crap. Mostly because to the media, the group of "Christians" represents anyone who doesn't fall into the Jew, Muslim or "other" category on the form they fill out somewhere. But to those of us with brains, "Christians" celebrate the Pagan holiday of Christmas because of either religious or societal peer pressure. They feel the need to give something in order to either get something or not feel guilty about getting something. It's the world's biggest pyramid scheme. And you know that heathens around the country will be tearing open gifts on Friday morning regardless of their religious upbringing.
Every year it's the same thing, and I imagine news directors at TV stations around the country penciling-in the standard reporter-based crap:
REPORTER: I'm standing outside [name the] mall and I've been talking to shoppers all day asking them why they've braved the crowds to do their last-minute shopping.
SHOPPER: I just have a few things to pick up, so I set the alarm clock for 4:00am and got out early today. Now, I'm done.
SHOPPER2: We just have a few more gifts to pick up, and we've been so busy that we figured that today was our last chance. (Nice thinking, since it's Christmas Eve and all)
SHOPPER3: I'm just looking for the perfect gift for my wife. (What a lucky girl!)
REPORTER: So, if you're coming to [name the] mall, you have 35 minutes to get here and find that last-minute gift before they close the doors and make you stay when your sorry-ass will be locked in until Saturday. Now, it's back to the newsroom where we're following the journey of Santa and his reindeer on their logistically impossible job of delivering toys to people around the world. Where is he now, Jim?
JIM: Our NORAD trackers have him in Pakistan right now, which oddly enough, is a Muslim country, so we figure he'll make quick work of them and get onto the business of delivering toys to those Christian boys and girls in places where they speak English and worship gods with less than 6 arms.
'Tis the season. Meanwhile, it's the same old crap every year. This year I did the best I could to distance myself from the odd tradition of gift exchange. I look around and wonder what it is we're doing and I can't figure out an answer other than peer pressure and guilt.
My boss gave me a beach towel, and I can't tell you the last time I went to the beach. The supervisor of my department gave me a $25 gift card for the Longhorn Steakhouse. I went to their web site and found that the nearest location would cost me about ten dollars to get to, so I figure the gift card would be a break-even. I suppose I'll find a homeless person in Philly to give it to. That should shake things up at the Columbus Avenue location!
It's a strange thing, the gift exchange. Children feel entitled and adults feel obligated. I'd like to think that we can randomly give things to people without the attention of a holiday, but the country is under the control of advertising and retail, so that's my nirvana I suppose.
It puts a lot of social pressure on people and they pretend to enjoy it, but I think if we decided to cancel Christmas, large numbers of people would breathe easier, lead less stressful lives and live without the ensuing debt that the holidays bring to some.
I suppose my viewpoint is slanted because Christmas is for kids and couples, and my world contains neither. But the problem is that if I choose to ignore the day (and I have) it is difficult if not impossible to ignore the social ramifications of the day.
Maybe if I were Jewish or a Hindu? Or happy.