Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas and Old Age

By Alan Caruba

The older I get, the less I like Christmas. It’s definitely an age thing.

I have sweet memories of waking early on Christmas day, tip-toeing passed my parent’s and older brother’s bedrooms, and down the stairs to see what bounty awaited in front of the fireplace. There were separate stockings, jammed with candies and collectibles, but it was the boxes, clearly marked for myself and my brother that held treasure.

It never occurred to me that older brother with seven years head-start on me was already too old to have the giddy glee that Christmas morning held for me. All this is to say that I really liked Christmas and for all the usual reasons.

As I got older, the magic began to disappear. One Christmas was spent on duty, manning a desk in the headquarters company of the Second Engineer Battalion, Second Infantry Division, accompanied only by a very unhappy Second Lieutenant who had pulled the holiday assignment.

I began to notice things like the sameness of the Thanksgiving Day parade and how commercial it was. One November in 1984 I put out a news release claiming that “The Boring Institute” had analyzed the parade and concluded “it was a ten-year-old video” being replayed with no one noticing.

Thus was born The Boring Institute and an unpaid career as the nation’s expert on all things boring. With a break after 9/11, the Institute has issued an annual list of The Most Boring Celebrities of the Year ever since and did again on December 5th.

Other rituals of Christmas became increasingly annoying, not the least of which was the replaying of certain films that I have long since seen too many times. “It’s a Wonderful Life” was released in 1947! It must, moreover, be said that newer “Christmas” films are often crass, vulgar, distasteful and disrespectful. I mostly hate them.

The lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree used to be good for a few minutes coverage on the news, but the 2011 ceremony became a two-hour television extravaganza. Just light the tree and shut up!

The really annoying aspect of Christmas in recent years are those self-righteous atheists and others who object to a crèche or a Christmas tree on public property and who go around insisting that we all say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” Atheists constitute about 4 percent of the population and 98 percent of all the negativity at Christmas time. I cannot begin to tell you what I would like to do to these cretins and killjoys.

In my own hometown, the kids in our schools are literally forbidden from singing Christmas carols lest it “offend” someone. Like who? If Christmas offends you, I recommend you move to Baghdad, Tehran or Riyadh, Saudi Arabia where being found with a Bible is a criminal offence. In short, get out!

I used to love to send and receive Christmas cards. These days, the price of cards and postage at 44 cents is such that it seems a costly affront to the opportunity to say hello to friends and family. I tend to use email now.

Talking about email, the days following Thanksgiving have seen an avalanche of emails from various merchants and manufacturers, all offering great savings on things I neither need, nor want. I miss the good old days of Nigerian gangsters. Now I am deluged by emails in French, Spanish and languages I do not recognize. I spend my days clicking on “delete.”

I shall be happy to celebrate yet another Christmas, but parents are long gone and big brother is in God’s Waiting Room—Florida. Other family members will have to content themselves with a card, email or call. Single by choice, there are no children or grandchildren that need tending.

And, yes, it will be with great relief when Christmas is over for another year. It’s an age thing.

© Alan Caruba, 2011


Cederq said...

Mr Caruba,
I have to agree with you on this, at the age of 53, I know young, I am quite tired of all the sameness and commercial crass the end of the year brings, I can't find a hole deep enough or a town far, far away enough to escape this. Even at a young age I really didn't enjoy Christmas time much, too much of all that was phoney.

Kevin Cederquist

TexasFred said...

The older I get, the less I like Christmas. It’s definitely an age thing.


And if ANYONE doesn't think the Spirit of Christmas isn't real, I actually got a Christmas card in the mail today from a Jewish friend... Imagine that...

Alan Caruba said...

@Cederq. It is just all too much and too far removed from the reason the holiday is celebrated.

Alan Caruba said...

@Fred: Jews do not resent Christmas, not in America where they know a Christian population will protect them against the crazies. Coming as it does so close to Chanuka, the two compliment each other.

The holiday is celebrated around the world, with our without its spiritual connotation. A visit to Tokyo's Ginza district would find this Buddhist/Shinto nation festooned in Christmas decoration.

Donna Harris said...

Add in the idiot parents telling their kids Santa is a "lie" and then telling all and sundry how wonderful and self-righteous they are to the Christmas cretins. Between them and the atheists, they manage to suck a lot of joy out of the holidays.

We love Christmas at our house, we've had friends of all faiths over for Christmas dinner (no ham the year we had Israeli friends here, LOL!) and we firmly and deeply believe in Santa.

Ronbo said...


I understand your feelings about Christmas, but I always look forward to Christ's Mass even alone and at age 63, having lost my entire immediate family over the years, father, mother, brother and wife.

The Nordstrom department store here in Seattle built Santa a little house on the sidewalk facing Pine Street with a glass wall, so the public can watch the little kids with wonderment in their eyes talk to the old gent in the red suit.

It was not so long ago that a young Ronbo give his shopping list to Santa in Huntington, West Virginia to the observation of old people on the sidewalk looking in at the scene.

Merry Christmas to everyone!

Richard said...

Dear Mr Caruba,

I visit your blog daily from England, so let me the first to wish you a very 'Merry Christmas' and a peaceful New Year. Amongst other celebrations, I will be singing 'Messiah' in Shrewsbury Abbey, and as you seem to be alone, I will be thinking of you at that time. You have given us all much pleasure and indeed, some education too over the past year. May it long continue.

Regards also to your other readers

Richard Elliott

Alan Caruba said...

Thanks to you all for your insightful and heartwarming comments.


@Richard: Among my childhood memories are visits to grandparents who lived on Shrewsbury River here in NJ. Just the name was a lovely reminder.

Will Harmon said...

I'm 63 Alan and I know what you are saying about waning fascination as time passes. We don't decorate the house nearly to the extent we did when our children were youngsters at home. We also don't spend the money on gifts that we used to and we've really cut back on the sending of Christmas cards. With children and grandchildren in our family, there will always be some level of decorating and gift giving. But more and more, we move away from all the commercialism and more and more toward the true spirit of Christmas: God's gift of joy, love, peace, and salvation to all of mankind.

Merry Christmas to you, Alan, and to all your readers. I for one greatly appreciate your essays and the research that goes into them to provide a forum of truth. There will be a small monetary gift coming your way in the next few days as a token of my appreciation for the work you do in providing this blog. I hope others will be moved to do the same.

retch said...

You want to know what drives me out of my skull? I'll tell you anyway. All those Christmas Carols in supermarkets, shopping malls - even butcher shops; don't, at least not habitually, visit bordellos but I wouldn't be surprised. And those poor people working there, forced to listen to that crap all day long... How many are there anyway, endlessly repeated on a half-hour loop.
Making it a point of honor to avoid 'em like the plague, this year I was forced to listen to them in my doctor's waiting room! You can't win.
Helped to make a confirmed atheist out of me. A merciful God would never allow this to go on.

Rich Kozlovich said...

It has always been recognized that there were those who were not celebrants. It is also generally recognized that as people of faith all they asked was to have their views respected.

At no time did I ever in my 65 years see any of these people go through the courts and demand that everyone change their whole existence to accommodate them.

Why? Because they weren’t atheists. I think that is the’s all a matter of faith. Those with faith have respect for others. Those without faith respect nothing and no one.

Unknown said...

I must be honest and plainly state that at my age of 26 I'm sick of Christmas myself.

I am the "responsible one" in my family, which means that I watch the money and makes sure that it goes where it's supposed to. My chief complaint with this is that I do not have a family of my own. I have a father and two sisters that I take care of.

So, after serving the Navy for the past 6 years I get to come home and...keep doing what I said above. All holidays have become an endless trap of money spent on others that are typically not appreciative at all of what I do. Instead, I end up defending the money I spend on myself because they see it as "unnecessary". But buying them movies, a computer, or loaning them money to pay for -their- court costs IS necessary.
I do not wish to disrupt a festive season for anyone else, but from my perspective all I have to say is "Bah-humbug".

Alan Caruba said...

@Unknown: You have my sympathies. I hope you can find a way out of your current predicament. You are trying to do the right thing and getting no thanks for it.

Sp00ky said...

Ah Christmas. A wonderful post that describes what a lot of people feel but usually do not profess.
I myself was taken aback this year, mind you I'm 34, when I was searching for a simple stuffed turkey toy for Thanksgiving.
It was a week before the holiday and I wanted something cute for my desk, but unfortunately I couldn't find anything that was "Thanksgiving" aside from the tell tell signs of a scare crow for the yard or the various cards. It seemed that Thanksgiving was passed up this year in favor of cashing in early on Christmas.
It was the first time that I dreaded Christmas. I normally don't go out of my way to celebrate it, normally I couldn't do much as things have always been tight, but my gosh, to see ornaments and trappings weeks before, sometimes months, Thanksgiving was too much for me.
The only reason I have any decorations or a tree, was that my family is enduring unfathomable hardships and Christmas cheer and spirit was the only solution to lightening the mood, and so far it is successful.
In ending the abnormally long comment, I'd like to add my favorite memory of Christmas.
I was about 8 years old when my family was traveling to be with relatives when we were snowed in by a bad storm. Stuck in a little town with nothing open but the 7-11, and no hope of reaching our destination or retreating home.
The only traditional gifts that my sister and I received were a pair of used ice skates from the owner of the 7-11.
My family went to a pond and skated the day away, eating hot dogs for Christmas dinner. It was the best Christmas I have ever had so far.
We had NOTHING, but family and the time spent with each other. No commercialism, no massive dinner, no holiday rush, just us.
So I will spend this Christmas day with my family and friends, and take the best gift of all, the time I have with them.

Merry Christmas to you all!

Alan Caruba said...

Thanks, Spooky, for sharing that.

It's always about the kids and family.