And today? Today, just so the last thing I leave you with before the holiday won't be hookers'n'junkies, I'm going to reprint something I wrote exactly four years ago, when the New England weather was rainy, as it is today! (And, in the interests of full disclosure, I've shoe-horned in an additional essay of mine from slightly before then, and edited them both together in a hopefully seamless fashion.) So remember, it's four years ago as you read the following... but in a lot of ways, it's very much "today," too.
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Ah. Christmas in New England. Almost, anyway. Unseasonally warm weather, lots of rain... Real mood killer, even for those like myself who like the rain ordinarily. Bing Crosby must be rolling over in his grave. Well, maybe not. If he had been, I'm sure it would have been reported somewhere.
What a sucky year this has been, for so many of us. Myself, for example. The best Christmas present I can receive this year will be my making it all the way to January 2nd. My last-minute holiday duties will involve trying to do something for those few who have been going out of their way to do things for me lately. (Personal note, here, to some of those people: If I don't "catch" you before or on the holiday, I will catch you sometime soon thereafter. So if I don't see you this weekend, don't think I forgot you!) That's not just a selfish attitude of "You're not getting from me unless you've given to me," as outright Christmas presents are not what I'm talking about here, but rather a reference to those who've bent over backwards to do whatever they can to help me through some tough medical, financial, and emotional times in the past few months.
For once, I'm not as empowered as I usually am to play savior (note the all-so-humble lower-case "s" there) to those friends of mine who are less fortunate than I. Although there are plenty of people in my inner circle whose problems are far worse than mine, my own problems are just that: My problems. So they affect me more than other people's problems affect me. Never makes much sense to cry in anybody else's beer, ya know?
Sometimes, in terms of my friends (as opposed to strangers, "random acts of kindness," etc.) I really wish I could limit myself to helping only those who would return the favor in full if they were so empowered (if I may use that word once more). Maybe that would be my New Year's resolution, if I believed in that sort of nonsense. Although I truly believe that if there's something about yourself that you want or need to change, you should do it right away, and not wait for an arbitrary change of the calendar. And this sage advice comes from the King of the Procrastinators (Scroll down to #10.).
Let me repeat that, for emphasis: I really wish I could limit myself to helping only those who would return the favor in full if they were so empowered. But who am I kidding, I've been "promising" myself to do that for years. Told you I was King of the Procrastinators.
Anyway, I'm bothered by this whole situation where Christians* are urged to be tolerant of other people's religions -- which is fine, and just, and all that crap! -- but now it's gotten to the point where we're also urged to (to self-consciously use a Biblical reference) "hide our own light under a bushel." Christmas is quickly becoming "the 'c' word," an unfortunate & degrading reference which offends the hell... uhh, make that "heck"... out of me.
I won't go so far as to agree with Bill O'Reilly and say there's a "war" on Christmas, but...
In order to avoid offending anyone anywhere, Christians have often had to stop putting up Nativity scenes on city hall property. Those Americans who believe in the Judeo/Christian God are verbally chastised for having innocuous phrases like "under God" in our country's Pledge of Allegiance, and "In God We Trust" on our money. And if it wasn't for the brief -- but somewhat inspirational -- unity we U.S. citizens showed immediately after 9/11/01, I'm sure there would have been more comments against "God Bless America" being our rallying song. And of course, who can forget the recent brouhaha about Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore and his refusal to remove the monument to the Ten Commandments from the state's Judicial Building?
Folks, I'm not arguing against the "separation of church and state," I'm simply suggesting that if this country is going to observe said concept, it do so across the board, and not ignore it when it's -- to quote Dana Carvey's Church Lady, fittingly enough -- "conveeeeenient," like when it's a good way for a politician, pressure group, or so-called "private citizen" to say "I'm not a bigot, I'm just following God's laws!" while he or she is trampling someone else's civil rights.
If you insist that grocery store & department store intercoms play generic, non-denominational "holiday" music (endless variations of "Here Comes Santa Claus," "Jingle Bells," "Frosty the Snowman," etc.) as opposed to anything which actually reminds us -- God forbid! (pun intended) -- that the first two thirds of the word "Christmas" refer to that Jesus guy ("We Three Kings," "The First Noel," "Oh, Holy Night," etc.), why stop there? All these references to "the holiday season" and other, non-Christian holidays, are just a blind, at least when it comes to what day we're actually commemorating. This isn't meant to invalidate anybody else's religious beliefs, but the plain and simple fact is that Christmas itself is a Christian holiday. Get over it. Or, failing that, if you insist that it's solely "their" holiday, stop celebrating it!
Now there's a thought!
Let's make these self-righteous Christians just pick up their toys -- you know, the toys ostensibly delivered by a Saint named Nicholas? -- and go home. And while we're at it, let's invoke the separation of church and state once again. Why should a Christian holiday be a national holiday, anyway? "Our" religion, "everybody's" paid day off? Something inherently wrong there, innit?
Other religions have their own holidays at this time of year, too. And more power to 'em. But they don't have national, paid holidays. So, why should Christians?
Therefore, here's my message to Christians and non-Christians alike: From now on, on every December 25th, shake off your eggnog-induced hangover, get your lazy ass out of bed, and go to work! And forget about a Christmas bonus while you're at it. What do you really need that extra money for anyway, except to buy more presents? If we're getting away from Christmas-based practices, the gift-giving itself has to be toned down. Let all of us -- Christians, Jews, Muslims, pagans, etc. -- concentrate on the "real" meanings of our respective holidays, and let the atheists and agnostics -- God bless 'em! -- do whatever it is that they do this time of year, too. And if the economy suffers a bit in the process, oh-freaking-well! Babies.
I'm just asking for a little consistency. That's all. Just a little. Kinda like Swift's "A Modest Proposal," 21st century style.
So, I wish everybody a Happy Whatever-you-celebrate, 'cause I'm just so freakin' gracious. (Well, sometimes.) But let me and mine celebrate what we believe in, as long as we're not stepping on your overly-sensitive PC toes.
("Hey, this one wasn't very funny... " "Maybe not, but it contains more links than a box of Brown 'N Serve Sausages!")
Anyway, gang... Happy Krimble. *ahem*
And thanks for your time.
*I just wanted to point out that when I say I'm a "Christian," I am emphatically not aligning myself with the right-wing, pro-Chimp, neo-fascist "red state" nutballs getting so much press lately. (I'm a Massachusetts moderate, m'self!) I'm just referring to people who really believe in that whole "Jesus" thing. (You remember Him, right? He's the dude whose birthday "we" celebrate... umm... somewhere around this time of year.)
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Just a couple of after-thoughts, here:
- Since I wrote the above, I've gotten much better about doing -- mainly -- for those who'd do for me if they could... and it's paid off. Now, when I need a favor or two, the people I ask are there for me whenever possible.
- I might not have included that line about "And if the economy suffers a bit in the process, oh-freaking-well!" if I'd known then what we all do now. Ouch.