October 10, 2013
Thoughts on an Offer
There's no historical date on this post since the catalyst occurred today. My son and his friend needed cream for their coffee, so I went down to the local market to get some. I often forget to pick it up when grocery shopping since I don't eat meat or dairy. I walked into the store and was accosted by a gentleman doing a promotion for one of the local newspapers. We both had graying beards and for some reason started chatting about the care and feeding of face fur. I mentioned the fact that the small black cheek patches in the otherwise snowy drifts of my cheeks were what kept me from applying to work as a Santa at Christmas. He told me that I shouldn't worry about it, his beard was darker than mine and he'd been doing it for a couple of years. So now I have a dilemma, does my need for a well-paid, if demanding, job outweigh the facts that I am a vegan atheist of Jewish heritage who doesn't really like the holiday season? Would I be able to limit my snark, would I be able to maintain my sanity? I don't want to seem Scroogean, I like the idea of celebrating a holiday of life and light in the dead, dark of winter. The traditions are wonderful, and I'm enough of a language and mythology buff to take great delight in the way the holiday has borrowed so heavily from non-Christian celebration. But look ... We spend an entire month being exhorted, cajoled, tempted, flattered, tricked, hassled and abused on all sides. We drown in the pressure of trying to balance 'quid' and 'quo'. For most of us, our lives are measured in currency. Each minute has a value. Like the sand in an hourglass, the days of our lives flow as coins through our weakening fingers until we have not only spent our past but mortgaged our future. And the soundtrack, carols interspersed with sentimental schlock that would even make a commercial C&W DJ gag. Is it 'the hap ... happiest time of the year'? Every time I walk into a mall or even a food market I am assaulted by audio that reminds me that people who aren't happy during this season are somehow flawed. I can't help but think of the psychological warfare tactic that we used in the middle-east. We blasted rock music at them 24/7 knowing that the unremitting noise will weaken them. But here at home we use the same tactic of unremitting "joyful" noise to create remitting customers. What do we care if a few depressed or lonely people fall by the way, inundated by reminders of how they have failed. We're not surprised that the 'hap ... happiest' is also the 'su ... suicide' time of the year. Hey! it's social Darwinism. Let's get all those misfits out of the gene pool. The rest of us will go out and buy our piece of yuletide euphoria, pay to find our Christmas bliss. And if we run out of money ... and credit ... well we'll just paste on a smile cut back on medical services for our parents and after-school activities for our kids. Then we'll go back out and buy some more. Don't expect presents from me this year! But, if you care to visit ... you can put your feet up by the fire, have a glass of eggnog or a snifter of brandy and we can tell stories of the light. You'll find no dead tree covered with tiny lightbulbs, but candles on the table and the scent of hot beeswax, no carols playing but perhaps Haydn's 'Lord Nelson Mass'. So I must ask myself, can I be as curmudgeonly as I have just proved to be and still be able to perform the jolly if seditious duties of a Santa. I must get a glass of wine and weigh my wallet against my soul.