So maybe it’s the part of New Jersey in which I live (an “urban” resort with people on one side of the tracks dealing with unemployment, homelessness, poverty, gang violence, drug use, and struggling to make ends meet while on the other side of the tracks people bitch about inconvenient parking and discuss which restaurants in town have changed their menus), or maybe it’s seeing people I know, love, and care about directly affected by the economy and unemployment …..might even be that the commercialism of the Christmas season has finally pushed me to the edge. But whatever the reasons, this holiday season has been harder to endure than so many others in years past.
Our kids are older now – fully cooked and well-rounded, scattered throughout the country, living their lives and making a difference in their communities in whatever ways they can. I’ve lost the fun of seeing their excitement and sharing the love that is supposed to symbolize Christmas (peace on earth, good will towards man, and all that shit….). Instead I am left with an endless onslaught of ads exhorting me to buy something while counting down the shopping days left until Christmas. I am so over Black Friday, Cyber Monday, car commercials where there’s a fucking new car under the tree, iPads, Windows 7, gifts that nobody needs and no one else can afford. Back in those Sunday School days of my youth I don’t ever remember reading about the three wise men showing up at the manger in their new Lexus, or stopping off at Target or Wal-Mart for some last minute gifts for baby Jesus. I really think that we as a society (one based on consumerism and owning bigger toys than your neighbors) need a change in attitudes and priorities, as well as a solid kick in the ass…..
I don’t know when or if any of this will change – when we accept the day after Thanksgiving as a national holiday and line up at Wal-Mart and Kohl’s before midnight like piranhas feeding on livestock, stampeding into stores and pepper spraying anyone who gets in our way it sounds pretty hopeless to me. Maybe this year each of us can make a difference in some small way instead – volunteering at a homeless shelter or giving a gift to a kid who hasn’t yet learned the harsh reality that Santa won’t be sliding down his chimney this year because Mom and Dad got laid off and need the cash to pay the utility bills. Forget running to the mall for last minute presents and comparison shopping for the best deals. Maybe at the end of the day it’s time to turn off the TV, put down the remote, get off our fat asses, and hug the ones we love and talk to them instead of worrying about measuring love by how much we spend on each other.....
To quote Dr. Seuss:
“What if Christmas…… doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more”