You'd be surprised to hear it, but I'm not a big fan of Christmas. I mean, I like the idea of Christmas, and I often wear an Elf hat and excitedly shout "Christmas! Christmas! Christmas!" in the hopes that I'll get psyched, but at the end of the season, I'm as far from psyched as one can get.
I'm not into gifts, and that's really the reason for the season, isn't it? Just watch any Family Matters Christmas special (and I did, courtesy of Nick at Nite), and it always ends with them opening a mountain of presents. Eddie got that new boom box he wanted! It just adds up to too much clutter, and really, is that the payoff to 20 minutes of Christmas spirit? Presents?
I hate giving gifts! It's hard to figure out what to get people that isn't teh suck. One of my friends told me her family gave up on the act of gift-giving because it's basically "giving garbage to each other." And I agree! So much of the time, it's giving something people don't want or need. Maybe that's just my experience... or I'm terrible at giving gifts.
Buying gifts stresses me out so much, probably brought on by a lifetime of watching Christmas specials and being told it's very important to get the perfect thing, and I can never figure it out.
Then I thought about it, like, "What does Sarah really like?" and I got this very cool (to me) piece of gerbil artwork:
But let me tell you the ordeal it took to get this damn thing. First off, it was on eBay, but I couldn't Buy It Now, then it came in from France, and there was this huge self-induced stress of "Will it get here in time?" (since we both left town for the holidays), then I had to try and get the damn thing framed, and the whole thing was a nightmare.
Then I felt a little guilty because she got me a present I really liked, seriously, one of my favorite presents of all time: Super Smash Bros. Brawl for Wii. I've rarely gotten good gifts in my life, so it was a nice surprise. It perfectly fit my definition of a good gift - it's something I want (I really, really, really love this game) but would never buy for myself.
Most years, I try and alleviate this holiday hatred by taking part in the New York Cares Winter Wishes campaign. One would think making poor kids happy would make me feel better (and that's a selfish reason to take part in a charity, isn't it?), but no! All I remember from years past is how difficult and crappy it was finding and sending these gifts, and always being late about it, and feeling bad.
And yet, I enjoy those bad memories in the same way Oscar the Grouch enjoys hating the world. Ask me about how I had to deliver a very heavy wagon (admittedly, a really cool gift, I'm glad that today's youth still appreciate the classics) during the MTA transit strike a few years ago. I almost died.
Sometimes I feel like Charlie Brown, but on that note, even though I subjugated Sarah to hours of Christmas specials and I watch them in the hopes of finding spiritual fulfillment, they still piss me off. They're too trite and easy and never delve into a deeper meaning of the holidays.
Even friggin' Charlie Brown, especially Charlie Brown - they just decide to make the tree look pretty and then sing "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" and that's the ending? That solves all his problems? I highly doubt it. He's going to kill himself come February.
Or the Grinch - I love the (almost) ending! The Whos sing without presents. Christmas doesn't come from a store after all! But then what does the Grinch do? That idiot brings 'em all back so everyone gets their material rewards. It undercuts the entire message! Eff that ess. I wish he would've burned it all and been like, "I'm sorry. I ruined Christmas. I'm an ass," and then the Whos would say, "It's OK. We forgive you," and that'd be it. No Christmas miracle, no appearance of Santa, just them singing without presents of foods.
Maybe I'm a misanthrope, but I prefer reading the Charles Ludlam (one of my favorite playwrights) adaptation of A Christmas Carol, where Scrooge realizes, bit by bit, that it's all about kindness. It doesn't cost anything, doesn't hurt anyone, and it makes it a difference. When he talks about how much he appreciated Fezziwig's parties, and they didn't cost hardly anything... isn't that what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown?
One final rant: Man, was church lame! I like my religion the way I like my coffee: full of mysticism and ritual and singing and weirdness. That makes it fun. And it's such a letdown when the priest just tells an amusing anecdote for his homily (Really? That's all you got? It's just the Birth of your Savior, padre, you couldn't mention that a bit?), everyone's shuffling their feet so they can go home, there's just no real joy or zest, just bored obligation, and there are at least three kids playing with their Game Boys. That part just killed me... parents really let kids bring video games to church nowadays?
Even the Christmas music was sang in a boring way, and that just boggles the mind. Christmas music should be the best, most-psyched music ever. And I listen to EPCOT's Candlelight Processional (of which I had the honor of being a part of, many years ago) and "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer" on constant repeat during the entire month of December. I'm not kidding. To see that music fail to get people psyched... at a church... on Christmas Eve... it made me want to give up on everything.
And now for the topper: I had a pretty good Christmas this year! Both of my flights had zero problems, I got to go home for a longer amount of time (usually I just get to visit for a day or two), got to see most of my family, went swimming on Christmas Day, got a lot of writing done, played with the dog (at one point, I took a sword and knighted her Sir Stupid. I thought that was the most hilarious thing ever. Am I right, people? That's really funny, right? To knight a dog while she smiles a dopey smile and doesn't understand what's going on? And to use the name Sir Stupid for a female dog?), and had a good time.
So what the heck am I complaining about?
PS: I'm very proud of this post title. Let's all try to use the word "blech" a little more in 2009, shall we? 2009: The Year of Blech.