Music to My Ears

What If Christmas Sucks?

Old Joke.  There are 10 kinds of people in the world.  Those who understand binary and those who don’t.

But there is St Thomas Garnet’s theorem.  He postulated there are actually 3 kinds of people in the world.  Those who hate Christmas, those who are ambivalent, and those who adore Christmas.

Then they hung him.

What strikes me is that there are a significant number of folks that detest, or maybe just distrust Christmas.  Not bad people surely.  Just not..well, there.  What drives them crazy is Christmas ads after Halloween.  Christmas carols right after Thanksgiving.  And the knucklehead next door who’s putting out lights on his front lawn on Thanksgiving weekend.  You gotta drive by this guy’s house every morning and every evening thinking about this idiot’s utility bill.  And he’s got a kid that loves making snowmen.

But I never realized there are people who slide in and out of these groups at times.  I am suffering from this now.

I was always firmly in the camp of those who adore Christmas.  Every year I write these insipid letters to fellow employees dripping with cheer, chocolate, and reindeer.  Sage advice about how important it is to understand the reason we celebrate, to learn to appreciate the season and enjoy the wonder.  To capture that spirit of youth that anticipates and salivates as the great day approaches.  Go to the mall when you don’t need to buy anything and enjoy the decorations.  Volunteer at a local shelter or hospital.  Join a caroler group.  I’ve finally realized few read these things or care and this year I couldn’t care less.  If you hate Christmas that’s a you problem.

But I don’t WANT to hate Christmas.  I guess I don’t hate it exactly but I can’t get myself to care as I have in the past.  I’m going through the motions, decorating the house, wrapping presents because people are coming over and it’s in bad taste to hand them a gift in a plastic bag with the receipt still in it.

Having fun yet?

Now I have to write this column for Christmas.  One of the joys of my year has always been writing for Christmas, and in fact last year Copper featured my Christmas column and followed up in the next issue with my letter to the employees.  I could have easily written a column about another booze soaked rock star instead but I wanted to do this.

How do I get out of this funk?  Every weekend since Thanksgiving when we put up the decorations I come home from being away all week (I live 100 miles from work and stay up there all week) and I recharge as much as I can but barely get there then have to go back to work on Monday and stay in a room far from home.

But that didn’t matter when I was driving long haul for a couple of years.  I was always away from home and spent a few Christmases on the road but still felt the power of the season, even by myself in a truck bunk on Christmas Eve.  I am extremely lucky: I work for a great company that genuinely appreciates what I do.  However it is a very high stress job that is not a joy, but that was always true in the past as well.  I got sucked into manufacturing management decades ago with every fucking month end is a nightmare and the fiscal year end happening the week after Christmas which always threatened the holiday.  But it never did.  I was always able to separate the job from the holiday.

So what the hell is wrong with me this year?

I get now why my annual holiday epistles have little effect on people.  If you do care about Christmas you don’t need me explaining it to you and if you don’t care you don’t need me ranting at you.  And now I’ve managed to slip into that ambivalent cave of souls almost wishing the damn thing would just be overThis cannot stand. I’m getting old and probably only have 20 of these flippin holidays left so I can’t waste one.

OK. This cannot stand. I’m getting old and probably only have 20 of these flippin holidays left so I can’t waste one.

Last night when I came home I started working on this column but was having a shitty time of it.  I watched one of my favorite Christmas movies, The Muppet Christmas Carol, but no spark. This morning, a Friday where I typically work from home, I built a fire in the fireplace in the family room downstairs where my office is.   So there’s two cool things, I get to work at home on Friday and I have a lovely fire on a bitter cold morning.  The firelight is reflecting off the Christmas decorations all around the hearth and around the room.

I once wrote a short story for my brother’s kids that involved a boy who wished Christmas would hurry and come.  He was visited one night by an elf, a rather annoying little person, who made his wish come true.  But the boy woke up on the floor under the Christmas tree, all the wrapping paper around him, Dad in his pajamas reading a card from his mother and smoking a cigarette, Mom in the kitchen cooking and humming.  Christmas had come alright, but he had missed the best parts.  The anticipation of the week before, coming down the stairs during that week in the middle of the night imagining how the tree and presents would look in the morning dusk in a few days. Coming home in the late afternoon from playing in the park and seeing the lights on all the houses, with the lights on, yours the best.  Christmas Eve when Dad would puff the tree up the stairs and they’d decorate the whole house including spraying this weird white chemical stuff on the windows that looked like snow but smelled like formaldehyde, but when combined with a stencil would result in bells, stars and reindeer in the windows.

Then, that night.  Trying to get to sleep but having a terrible time because you knew some time tonight there would be the sound of hooves on the roof and a dragging sleigh.  But you do fall asleep and when you wake up, it takes a moment to remember it’s Christmas morning then you leap out of bed and spring down the stairs.  There it is.  The glory.  The quiet tree on pause waiting for the adulation of turning on the lights.  It’s still dark outside but the light from the streetlight outside with that special illumination reserved for winter reflecting off the snow filters through the window by Dad’s chair.  A pile of presents under the tree.  Watching the clock on the stove waiting for 7:00 which was the earliest you could wake your parents without getting killed.  Then at 7:00 and 30 seconds the bedlam of tearing into wrapping paper and then..discovery at last.

He’d missed it all.

I don’t want to wake up on the morning of 12/26 and realize I’d missed it all.  So Christmas has nothing to do with how others feel about it.  This column isn’t written for anyone but myself and I don’t care a flip if no one reads it.  It doesn’t matter if I don’t like my job, I’m good at it and I have to make it last a few more years.  Besides, very few people like their job and many don’t like their life in general.  Maybe that’s it.  Christmas is about the birth of Christ, of course.  But it’s also about hoping for just a few days when Life doesn’t suck.  It can be confusing.

OK some years it’s work. Some years are so bad you have to push Life out of the way and work in some eggnog.  Now we’re getting warm.  Maybe that’s why alcohol is a staple this time of year.

I’m going to fix myself an eggnog and brandy and go sit by the fire.

I mean this with all my heart.  Make Christmas merry.