Merry Christmas before the deluge


I know, I know, I should write something.
After all, it’s three days before Christmas so something profound should be written.
Perhaps something Dickensian to keep with the spirit of the times as certain people contemplate the return of the work-houses, although the feeling may be in some quarters on Wall Street that they pay their workers too much.
Keep Christmas in your heart, as it were, but keep your hands in the till. 
What a wonderful world this will be; what a wondrous time to be free.
My wife and I sit in the living room this afternoon, both dealing with our own illnesses – hers far more severe. She has a 24-hour cough and fever and, only with the weight of medical opinion, will she be staying home the rest of the week.
Christmas, of course, is not only the time to say I love you, but the time to come down with some illness you’d never get the rest of the year.
We both look like haggard refugees from the convalescent home. She will stay home and I will finish out the week at work. Somehow, my five days off were not filled with restful contemplation of the season but at least the shopping and wrapping is 90 percent done and we have clean clothes.
You can measure your age on a continuous line where Christmas slowly changes from being the most fun time of year to a challenge to your sanity and pocketbook. Here in middle age, I only have to buy for a few grown children, my wife and my ex-wife. The other ex-wife gets the satisfaction of knowing she rid herself of me before I was diagnosed. Merry Christmas, enjoy the house.
Hopefully not that bad
As we age further, the Christmas holiday becomes, much like Shakespeare’s seven ages of man, back to people shoving rum balls down our gullet in our dotage. Older people either become festively drunk or reclusively bitter. Since I already have liver disease, I can guess where I’ll land on the scale.
Of course, there are those who will insist that Jesus is the reason for the season and they mean well until they scream at you for the temerity of saying ‘happy holidays.’ Perhaps they could start a new campaign where they get very literal about the whole thing and force people to enthuse ‘Merry Jesus’s Birthday! Hallelujah! 
Of course, even Bible scholars know that Jesus could not have been born on Dec. 25 because no sane shepherd would have been out tending their flock in the Holy Land in late December – it gets cold enough there. And, of course, the date was chosen to co-opt the Roman celebration of Saturnalia and you can throw in the Pagan celebration of Yule. The early church, concerned with converting souls, had to replace the old holidays with something to celebrate.
And yet, in America, our Puritan forebears forbid anything other than a solemn nod to Christmas until well into the 19thcentury. Then, Thomas Nast invented Santa Claus (as we know him), Sears and JC Penney found a great excuse to move merch at a traditionally slow time of year, and we were on our way.
By the way, most Bible scholars believe, based on Scripture’s own recording, that Jesus, if you believe in him at all, was probably born in late April. But being so close to Easter, we couldn’t have that.
In any case, this year I am pleased to say there was less bloodshed and fisticuffs at the malls and Wal-Marts this year and the ‘hot toy’ whatever it is (something that hatches from an egg and has to be fed – good God, who would want that kind of responsibility?) has not been immortalized in videotape of young mothers and fathers beating the crap out of store managers they believe are ‘hiding some in the back.’
And yet, this is the Christmas I’ve always feared: the last one. No, not necessarily MY last one, although who can tell about these things; but the last before our country perhaps undergoes a radical transformation that leaves it looking like a day-after Christmas scene in the aisles at K-Mart by the end of the year.
Gather with your families, buy expensive toys for the kiddies, get really drunk and go to Midnight services (not necessarily in that order) and THIS year you may REALLY be praying to the baby Jesus that you get to keep your health care, job and respect for your fellow man intact by this time next year.
One of my favorite secular Christmas songs is the oft-maligned and over played ‘Little Drummer Boy,’ which the avoidance thereof has become something of a mean-spirited game. Released in 1958, my parents had the second or third reprinting of the album by 20th Century Fox records (yes, there was such a thing) by the time I arrived in time for Christmas 1962. So I grew up with Harry Simeone and his Chorale.
This is the one we had
Many cover versions of the song have been recorded from the tender rendition of Bing Crosby and David Bowie to the more impassioned version of Bob Segar. This year I seem to hear the traditional version of the song, lilting and graceful, but punctuated by louder and louder drums in almost a martial cadence, as if something unknown is approaching, marching in unison, with a purpose that belies the lyrics’
And with that, Godwin’s Law strikes
Peace on Earth, goodwill toward mankind. Yet, it seems more like Weird Al’s ‘Christmas at Ground Zero.’ What has happened in Berlin reminds us how far we’ve grown distant to goodwill.
On January 20, everything changes. How much, how soon and how severe one can only guess. But we have this one last holiday season whether you’d like Christmas, Hanukah or Yule (or Festivus) before the change.
Put aside your worries for a few days. Try to make this season memorable because, in the end, it may be the memories of Christmas past that will keep our psyches warm in coming times. Heck, even give your alt-right uncle a drink. Pour one for yourself – you’ll both need one eventually.
The game is to drink until you can’t see the red stripes
More than this I cannot say. The year 2016 took from us a whole host of luminaries including the aforementioned  Mr. Bowie. In addition, Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake and Palmer died as well, leaving us with, perhaps, the most perplexing secular Christmas song of all time – tinsel and fire mixed with an almost unbearable disillusionment. Such is life. I leave you with his lyrics.
I wish you a hopeful Christmas
I wish you a brave new year
All anguish pain and sadness
Leave your heart and let your road be clear
They said there’ll be snow at Christmas
They said there’ll be peace on earth
Hallelujah noel be it heaven or hell
The Christmas we get we deserve
This entry was posted in Catholicism, Christianity, Christmas, depression, good memories, Happiness, Heaven, hell, When we were very young. Bookmark the permalink.

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