Raznor's Rants

Costarring Raznor's reality-based friends!

Friday, November 18, 2005

Posted by the bekka

On Sunday, November 6, I called my local Kinko's to ask a question. Here is a transcript of the ensuing conversation:

Kinko's guy: "Happy holidays, thank you for calling Kinko's, how may I help you?"
Me: "???????"

And I'm thinking to myself, what holidays? Election day and Veterans' day? Day of the Dead and Eid? And why am I thinking these things? Oh, maybe because...


Since when does Xmas start on November 1? The shopping mall near my home already has its big gaudy tree up, the frame shop is selling stocking stuffers, and I SWEAR I saw a light-up Santa-and-sleigh on a roof near my home...a little over 2 miles away from the Pacific Ocean in sunny Los Angeles, no less. Now that I think of it, I may have been seeing Xmas paraphernalia showing up a ways before Halloween.

Is this all we have to look forward to as a country these days? Or is it the consumer industries pushing for bigger and bigger 4th quarter profits to counterbalance the downward-spiralling economy and take a little more out of the pockets of lower-middle class America for crap they don't need? Hey, as long as it momentarily distracts us from our otherwise meaningless lives, we're willing to pay out the nose for it. Just make sure we don't miss Oprah.

Or, as my husband put it, maybe we need Xmas a little more this year. To which I replied, "In that case, in 2001 Xmas could have started in September and no one would have batted an eyelash."

Look, I DO think we need a little more Christmas this year - every year, but I'm talking about Christmas - not "Xmas" - this commercialized, diluted, Hallmark holiday that turns the seasonal spirit into need, greed, and compulsive pocket-emptying in Jesus' name.

Since I realized I was a secular Jew and began to understand the common human origin of all the holidays falling around the winter solstice, the discrepancy between the "reason for the season" and the actual season itself has become more and more glaring, just fading into the background with all the rest of the hypocrisy and irony of modern American culture. Early human beings without central heating and electricity didn't have much during the deadest of winter, and all they knew was that hopefully the sun would slowly increase its portion of the day, and if they could hold out until that happened, everything would be okay. They lit lights to encourage the sun to come out and to warm their spirits, and revered the trees that remained alive and green year-round. Over time, different tribes began to express their communal winter feelings and experiences in different ways - some of us still light lights, some of us still revere trees, but most of all, we appreciate what we have and maintain hope for the future.

These days, Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice - I see them all as essentially the same holiday, arising out of the same basic human needs. This is the "Holiday" that I think of when I wish people to have happy ones. May it be so for all you and yours as we head into dark times and hope for the light to return.

Happy holidays.


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