Gimme a “ho.” And now another. One more.
That’s it. You’ve been infected with the holiday spirit. Or is it the Christmas spirit? I don’t know which one is correct, and for me it really doesn’t matter since I’m a Pagan and I celebrate Yule and Winter Solstice. However, for the record, I was raised in a Christian faith until I wised up, and my father was Jewish by birth (but his family never talked about it because his parents left an oppressive country back in the early 1900s for a friendlier world.)
Anyway back to the Hols, or Christmas, or whatever. I fight the “spirit” for as long as I can. I’m not one of those fools who go around with “Merry Holiday”, um, “Merry Christmas” on my lips throughout the season. Perhaps it’s a fear of being boiled in plum pudding and buried with a stake of holly through my heart, but more than likely it’s my natural born cynicism guiding me through one of the more slippery sloped times of year.
I admit I can barely tolerate seasonal music, er, Christmas music. I’m not big on caroling, or carolers, and while I do know what wassailing is I most certainly do not do it. And even though I grew up watching every holiday special ever made, I now avoid them like the plague to avoid the infecting of the “spirit” for as long as possible. Also, I find most holiday specials a bit sappy for the times in which we live.
Come on. Let’s be realistic. If Rudolph were a true deer of our times he would’ve gone postal after suffering rejection upon rejection at the hooves of his fellow reindeer. The North Pole would be a bloodbath, Herme would finally come out of the closet, and Yukon Cornelius would be getting fan mail from Scooter Libby (think about it.)
The Grinch, my personal hero, would figure out all of Whoville was under a form of mass hypnosis, and instead of returning Christmas to the poor deluded fools he would set it on fire in a vain attempt to break them out of their spell and bring them to their senses. If that didn’t work he would start bustin’ some heads.
Charlie Brown, the poor picked-on Everyman, would run off and join a cult or a terrorist cell and declare a jihad on Linus and Lucy and the gang. He would strap an explosive device around Snoopy and send him to wander into the crowd of jazz jivin’ fools so he could take them out in the name of whoever he worshipped.
Least we forget the little drummer boy, a modern version of the tale would have him forget about the babe in the manger and gear his career to a hard rock band because everybody knows he could score major babes once he was in a band.
Yes, I’m cynical. Did I mention the mice in that ‘Night Before Christmas’ tale would probably be cat food in a modern tale? However, with all my cynicism, I just can’t get the big deal about calling it a Holiday tree instead of a Christmas tree. Okay, so I call mine a Yule tree. My Yule tree came form the fiber optic forest and changes colors, but that’s just another of my quirks.
So is it Christmas or isn’t it? I mean, if we don’t call it what it is, then what is it? And do we still get infected with the “spirit” if the “spirit” isn’t “Christmas spirit”?
Well to get my answers I went right to the source; no, not Dr. Phil. I went to my local mall Holiday Village where, I will tell you, I ran the risk of getting infected with more than just the “spirit”. Sheesh, if your kid has the flu or TB or something don’t take them to a place with hundreds of other kids so the germs spread and cause an epidemic.
Anyway, the Village, um, Holiday Village, in question was a combination of Dickens and Logan’s Run. Big silver trees with large red balls, and villagers, um, employees dressed in traditional 19th century garb. The big man himself, Santa, was dressed in the traditional red velvet suit with faux white fur trim and black patent leather boots.
This particular Santa was a bit unnerved to have a 42 year-old guy sitting on his lap, at least in a public place, especially since he was all of 25 (so Santa already fulfilled one of my fantasies), but once I explained I was just there to get some answers he waved off security and consented to listen to my list of questions.
“So Santa,” I said. “Are you seeing anyone?”
“Dude, you’re old enough to be my father.”
“Yeah, well, never mind. What I really want to know is if we don’t call it Christmas anymore, and just refer to it as The Holiday formerly known as Christmas, will it be the same?”
“Oh, philosophical stuff,” he said with a nod. “I get it. Is this gonna be on Punk’d?”
“No, I really want to know. If it isn’t called Christmas anymore, will it still feel the same? Will children still stay up late and wake up early to see what presents are under the tree? Will they even care if there is a tree if it isn’t called a Christmas tree? Will they wonder if reindeer really know how to fly?”
“What I’m asking, faux Santa, is secularizing Christmas going to take away the glitz and glamour and greed of the holiday and turn it into just another day to shop? I mean, is it going to change the true meaning of Christmas?”
Santa nodded his head for a minute and shifted under my weight. “Dude I’m not used to anyone over 60 pounds on my lap unless they are doing the elf dance, if you get my drift. Could you stand up for this?”
Santa breathed a sigh of relief and stood up next to me. He put his arm around my shoulder. “Walk with me. I’ve got a break anyway.”
We walked out of the Holiday Village and into the mall, just me and Santa. I admit I was starting to feel a bit of the ‘spirit” and had a sudden desire for a candy cane, but I stayed focused on my mission.
“Man, you really creeped me out when you first approached me,” Santa said. “But now I see your dilemma. The media has gotten to you. They are messing with your mind. I know guys your age have a lot of memory problems anyway, and are always reminiscing about the glory days, like my dad goes on for hours about his days on his high school baseball team…anyway, you’re afraid.”
I stopped and looked into this young Santa’s eyes. They were blue with a twinkle and hint of mischief. Where was I? Oh yeah, I said to him, “Afraid? Afraid of what?”
He smiled behind his faux beard. “Guys your age are afraid of everything. You’re afraid you’re not good enough to compete with us young bucks. You’re afraid of change. You’re afraid your job security will disappear overnight, and you’re afraid of growing old and missing out on all the really cool stuff to come.”
I felt myself pale as he spoke. The young St. Nick was right on so many levels. Of course he was also avoiding my main question, but that didn’t stop his words from worming their way into my mind. “Yes Santa,” I nodded, fighting back a few tears. “I am afraid. Hold me?”
“Whoa! Back off, dude. This Santa is still on the clock. Besides, you know deep in your heart that none of those things are true. You know you can still compete, and that change is a good thing because it keeps you youthful and sharp. Yeah, the job security thing is real, but hey, in a couple weeks I’ll be back on fulltime mall security. If you think this gig sucks, you should wander around here from midnight to seven AM.”
“So you’re telling me what?”
Santa sighed. “I’m telling you that it’ll always be Christmas, no matter what they choose to call it, and the ‘spirit’ will get you no matter how much you resist it. Ya know you’re cool for an older dude. I’m gonna give you one of Santa’s special toys.”
My eyes widened as he reached into his jacket and pulled out an envelope. “It’s a weekly pass to the theater here in the mall, good for one year,” he said.
“Oh? Just for me? Or can I bring a guest?”
“Dude, you’re funny. No offense, but I’ve got to get back and hang with the deer and a couple of elves. By the way, in the off season, I’m Nick. Maybe stop by the security office and say hi.”
So I waved to him as he started to walk out of sight, and just as I was turning to go he turned toward me and said, “Merry Christmas, dude.”
I guess I had my answers and some new questions as well.
Robert is the author of the novels Cool Mint Blue, Melba Ridge, and the recently released The Adventures of Homosexual Man and Lesbian Lad; and the creator of the on-line comix Impure Thoughts found at his web site Inside R.A. Melos, as well as having been an on-line staff writer for QBliss where he had a monthly humor column, Maybe A Yip, Maybe A Yap. In his non-writing time, when he's not studying the metaphysical or creating a tarot deck, he sells real estate in Middlesex County New Jersey, hangs out with his dog Zeus, and spends time at the Pride Center of New Jersey in Highland Park, NJ, where he is on the Board of Trustees.
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IF YOU LIKED THIS COLUMN...
12.3.05 @ 11:45a
I have tears in my eyes from laughing. You summed up the holiday/Christmas season perfectly. Bravo, Robert!
12.3.05 @ 1:34p
Robert, this is wonderful. Nicely done.
“Oh, philosophical stuff,” he said with a nod. “I get it. Is this gonna be on Punk’d?”
12.3.05 @ 8:45p
Such kind words. Thank you both.
12.16.05 @ 12:37p
That was just perfect, Robert. I have just one thing to say about Christmas, the Christmas spirit, the baby Jesus, elves, reindeer, and all that other stuff: BAH FREAKIN' HUMBUG!
Give Zeus a scritch behind the ears for me. He's a beautiful dawg.