Thursday, December 15, 2011
Christmas and Old Age
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