Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Gift of Nothing.

Ah, the season of hope...

That was how I started this entry, about an hour ago. And then I wrote paragraph after paragraph of snarky, possibly clever observations about some of the stuff going on in the world.

And it was all crap.

Useless. If anyone wants to hear the day's events sent up in style, Tivo "The Daily Show." I do.

No, it's December 14th, full on smack dab in the middle of the Holiday Season. If the world may be a ridiculous scroll of bad news, one end dropped and spinning wildy away, bouncing off the rocks and into the abyss beyond; if I sat, in the middle of December, on a bench outside a coffee shop in a thin t-shirt while people in shorts jogged by; if I go to house after house without a tree or menorah because this year was the year so many people finally got so busy so late in the year they just...couldn' bothered...that will not change the fact. It is the holiday season. The Holiday Season!

And I am going to forget all that.

And that is the gift I want to give to you. Not exactly give, as I can't guarantee I'll be able to pull it off myself and of course "give" is a word like "pregnant", a binary-style, all-or-nothing sort of construction. How about we say that it is the gift I want to convince you to give yourself.

I don't usually have to worry about it. I can't remember a year when a First Snow or a News Story about one human being helping another against a backdrop of the Season didn't soften up the old armor by now. Just enough to start letting things like gingerbread men racked in bakeries and the gorgeously haphazard holiday decorations of family-run businesses push through and warm me up.

This year, I am getting no cooperation from either the news or the weather.

This year, that kick start looks like it just may not happen. May not push aside all the stuff of life and war and money and age and work.

So I am going to forget those things.

Not all the time. I barely have the mental will of a teenager, much less a monk, but the plan is this: occasionally I will stop, reach down deep and muster up...nothing. A clean slate. And then I will look up at a window with a tree in it. A lit tree. A tree lit with the big, colored bulbs that are, in case you haven't heard, the only official bulbs of Christmas. ( I will not be moved on this.) And I will let that image wash over me, that promise of the world just behind the barely fogged glass. A world overseen by the Christmas Tree. A world of tranquility, of Family, the love they have for each other, the smiles they give each other; a world that smells of pine and cloves and firewood and baking things.

And I'll have no idea what really goes on behind the glass in that house...maybe they're allergic to cloves...but I'll wish them the best of all that, and I hope I remember to thank them for what they gave me.

Because once you have that feeling pouring out of you, you don't need so much armor, and the steps get lighter, even if they don't lead through picture perfect postcard snow.


  1. I you think the radio stations that have been playing nothing but Christmas music since Thanksgiving Day, and the stores that have been selling cards and t-shirts and decorations and candy since after Halloween, and the news shows touting ideas for gifts since 2 or 3 weeks ago have anything to do with the fact that you think the spirit hasn't kicked in yet, when it actually may just be the world rushing you? I'm sure the weather has something to do with it around here, I was just talking about this with my partner at work. It's not Christmastime if it's not cold, I don't know how people in Cali and Florida do it. But it seems like the retail world is pushing the season earlier and earlier every year, and if you're not in the holiday spirit the weekend after Black Friday, you're a scrooge.

    Anyway, that Family you speak of, they're probably yelling at each other to turn down the TV and shut off the video games and get down here so we can have a goddamn FAMILY DINNER GODDAMN IT!

    Sorry, I'm not helping, am I?

  2. Yes, even an illusion can enhance our lives.

    Amysue, we get snow in CA- not where I live- but we do. Anyway, if you have lived here all your life (as I have) there is no expectation for the weather to be anything other than 63 degrees and clear on Christmas. Snow would make as much sense to me on Christmas as it would on the 4th of July.

  3. Anonymous9:05 PM EST

    The older I get, the more I covet the Christmases of my childhood, big bulbs and all!

  4. Anonymous1:03 PM EST

    This is ridiculous as you will see, but I see no other way to remedy the situation.

    In a moment of holiday cheer, I decided to send you a gift. Then I sort of forgot I did, until I read this post. So, I checked the tracking and saw that a delivery was attempted on Tuesday, no one was there to receive the package and it is now being held hostage at the post office.

    It was sent to you c/o monsterpants and the USPS tracking number is 9102001206742145506823. Merry Christmas, I hope you can rescue it.

  5. That was lovely Don.

    Don't worry the spirit of the season will come. If not from an outside source then from somewhere within. If you are still having trouble, consoling can be a temporary solution. If you like drop me a line or two.

    For everyone else, forget about all the trappings and remember the real reason for the season. Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!

  6. I can't guarantee that it will get you in the holiday spirit, but "James Taylor at Christmas" is making me INCREDIBLY homesick.

    If you want some weird global Christmas fun I can sent you an audio file of "Jingle Bells" sung in Japanese - so good even Scrooge would hum along.

    Happy Holidays, ya'll!

  7. Don, I so know how you feel!

    It's seems harder and harder every year for me to muster up that Xmas spirit. Maybe it's the decade and a half of my working in the commerialized-world of retail where Christmas is foisted upon us earlier and earlier every year...soon decorations will be out right after the 4th of July. But at least my company hasn't gone anti-Xmas, pro-generic holiday like some. We have somewhat re-embraced the holiday gift-giving season without having to manage to offend some group.

    And it doesn't help that I can't put up any decorations this year for fear that my 5 month old kitten, Weezer, will confuse them for toys...anything that sparkles and moves is fair game to him.

    But all it takes is some time spent with family and friends to remind me how fast the season can slip by and that we need to try to enjoy those special moments as much as possible.

    Now if only I can get my Xmas cards done and mailed.

    So Don, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year


  8. mwaheather1:57 AM EST

    "True hope is swift, and flies with swallow’s wings;
    Kings it makes gods, and meaner creatures kings."

  9. I love when you say things like that, Heather.

  10. Hi Don,
    Welcome to my world you old timer.
    I sure know how you feel because I get mixed messages on the holidays as I get older.
    I'm about ready to go postal about the war. What a waste of my taxes. Hell, my Grand kids are going to pay for that mess.
    I hate the commercial crap and the business model to push crap before Thanksgiving, and I refuse to buy into that. But I still put up the inside tree, and put up the outside lights for myself and for others to enjoy. I even put my Lionel train under the tree. (That train is over 50 years old and still runs, not like the Walmart crap you get now)
    Hang in there Don, it only gets worse.....