Just Another Day

Dec 25th, 2012 by Nicholas Pell in Personal

“I don’t believe in fairy tales or sermons or stories about money, baby sister.” – Rooster Cogburn, True Grit

If I didn’t live in the age of social media, I probably wouldn’t even realize that it’s a holiday.

Christmas is a lot like Haloween: A day that’s ultimately for kids, but adults just can’t seem to let go of it. Just as “Slutoween” has taken over what used to be a day about kids trick or treating, so an orgy of consumer spending has replaced a day whose roots are giving children small treats. You just don’t love your dad if you don’t get him the latest and greatest GPS device this holiday season.

What makes Christmas special to children isn’t the gifts, however. It’s the air of mystery. A benevolent overseer descends upon the land leaving gifts, rewarding the good and punishing the bad with coals. Who among us remembers being extra good around Christmas in the hopes of currying favor with the Jolly Old Elf? Or the pit of joyful anxiety in our stomachs waiting to fall asleep and find a tree towering over a cache of presents? That’s the magic of Christmas, not anything to do with Jewish zombie babies or even “peace on earth and goodwill toward men.”

In times past, the demarcation between the frivolous gifts of childhood and the needed gifts of adulthood was the belief in Santa Claus. Both my parents came from relatively large families. Both attest that once a child stopped believing in Kris Kringle that the torrent of booty slowed to a trickle. Everyone likes presents, but I think that once you’re old enough to get the impossibility of the Santa myth, you’re old enough to get small gifts that you’ll actually use. When you’re old enough to buy anything you want for yourself, why do you have to shake down your friends with passive-aggressive guilt to acquire trinkets you won’t remember in two weeks?

“When I became a man, I left childish things behind me,” reads the Bible. Christmas is one of the childish things I’ve put behind me. It’s a holiday for children, their parents and the very religious. As I fall outside of all these groups, there’s not a lot here that makes the day special for me. I had considered volunteering today in the spirit of “being the change,” but ultimately decided that such a gesture would be contrary to my nature; If I wouldn’t do it any other day, why would I do it on Christmas?

So today I work and do laundry. Because this is just another Tuesday, except with fewer people on the roads.

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