WHAT WE THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT.
I don’t remember it, but I am told that I was born on the coldest day of 1958 in Martins Ferry, Ohio. Maybe that began to shape my attitude about all things winter. I am not a big fan of “Walking in a Winter Wonderland.” I’m more about “Hibernating in a Dark Winter Cave,” and “Wake Me When it’s Over.” It should come as no surprise, then, that Christmas is not my favorite holiday. To paraphrase Dr. Seuss, “I dislike Christmas, the whole Christmas season, and since you asked, I’ll give you the reason.”
As I was discovering, as a young adult, that I have a mild case of SADD (that autumn depression some people get), I looked back on my falls. My grades were always poor in the fall (I made an annual amazing spring comeback). Every time I ever broke up with a girl, it was in the fall. Although I love football (a fall sport), I never did very well at it, but I always excelled at track. And I was always sick in the fall.
Most of the Christmases I remember from my childhood were spent nursing some sort of ear infection, strep throat, or rheumatic fever. One Christmas I was actually restricted to the sofa—a sick bed in the midst of revelry. One of the most traumatic memories of my entire childhood was the night my parents stayed out Christmas shopping until well after dark. They didn’t tell us where they were going (they didn’t want to “ruin the surprise”). I thought they were dead, or maybe had decided to blow us off and run away to someplace warm.
This gets me to my point. All the little elves who stand around singing and wearing big, drunk, silly grins, have instilled in me (and everyone else) the expectation that we are to be happy, happy, happy from the drop of the first leaf, to the tumble of the fat old elf down the chimney. I doubt I’m the only one who resents and resists this. Nevertheless, I have functioned under the implied order, “shut up and smile,” for my entire adult life.
To add to the pressure, the more I learn about economics, the more I understand that something like 40 percent of our bloated economy hinges on everyone’s spending like drunken sailors in Q4. So, the fact that I’m inclined to be frugal AND the fact that I’m inclined to be sort of quiet and sleepy at this time of year conspire to make me feel unpatriotic, sacrilegious, and just plain not nice. I confess that I feel bullied by elves, retailers, and the Central Bank!
In light of the fact that Christmas is silly, and that it is not mentioned in the Bible (in fact, it was probably a holiday invented to appease the pagans who were forced by Constantine and his thugs to join the Church of Rome), I propose the following plan. Everyone chooses two birthdays to celebrate—one can be your own, but it doesn’t have to be. The other might be a significant other’s. Or maybe y’all will just want to celebrate my birthday, February 9. Anyhow, then everyone spends all kinds of crazy money on our two birthday celebrations. And we blow off Christmas.
This would spread the spending over the whole year, which has to be good for the economy. It would enable us all to get and give the gifts we really, really like, and only for people we really, really like. We can leave evergreen trees in the forest, where they are doing some good. We can dispense with programs where adults are forced to listen to small children who can’t hear pitches singing songs that should never be sung (not even once a year), pretending to enjoy to occasion. We can start doing what we ought to do about pudgy, middle-aged men in wigs, false beards, and elf suits harassing children; which is to arrest them. And we can focus our spiritual attention on important things—like the Lord Christ Jesus—all year round.
Call me crazy. But it just might work.