it's beginning to look at lot like....
Well, it's that time of year again. Sleigh bells are ringing, well... it's probably a car alarm at 4 AM, but close enough. Birds are singing... somewhere to the south I believe.. birds act on the instincts that I suppress. And that snow that everyone else thinks is magical and 'pretty' is going to be keeping my ass in-doors, only fueling my already reclusive nature.
Christmas falls on a Saturday this year, and I'm therefore only taking Saturday and Sunday off. "You're not getting Friday off, Rand?" Well, officially, no. Perhaps they'll have mercy on me and send me home a couple hours early (since I have no software on my computer to really do anything anyway), but it's quite possible that I'll be there for a regular day. I'll receive an extra personal day to use at a later date, but I'm sure that everyone already has the 24th booked. I'm new... I'm not even going to try.
The plan is to catch an 8 PM bus to Woodstock, where my uncle lives. I have no idea what's in store for me, but I'm sure I'll have a horrible night, trying to fight my way onto a bus on Christmas Eve. I'm bringing a thin metal rod that can easily be hidden under the folds of my winter coat. You snooze, you lose, bitch... concussions included.
Things will be fine at my uncle's. I don't know these easterner relatives well enough for them to get on my case, and honestly, they're too oblivious to notice anything anyway. I was at their place for Thanksgiving when I was living in Boston, about 3 or 4 years ago, and they're still blaming me for their throwing out a spoon from their silver collection. If you bored me enough that I hid your silver eating utensils in the apple pie, and you manage to retrieve some of them as you cut into it.... for the love of god, have the sense to check that thing for any others before throwing away that one piece that nobody ended up eating.
Holidays aren't a big deal to me... I'm not into sentimentalism. Vacation time? sweet. Vacation time spent driving down the street at fifteen miles an hour looking at Christmas lights? let me the fuck out of the car. I actually jumped out of the car when I was in my early teens... fifteen miles an hour is faster than you'd think.
What is Christmas though... I mean, what is it really? "Oh, it's become so commercial." Your whole fucking religion has become commercial, Midwesterner. The self-proclaimed pope of the 21st century, that you voted for, is leading your good ol' boys into a holy war right now so that you can drive your ass to the mall to pick out that 'hot' new toy for Billybob. "No, I meant that Hallmark only has cards with wreaths on the front, instead of pictures of baby Jesus." Oh, you got me there. A thin metal rod emerges from my coat as she turns her back.
Everyone's complaining about the whole Santa vs. religion issue. I think that Santa is the perfect avatar of the Christian god. Santa is an old, immortal man, with a long white beard, who's omniscient and is keeping a fucking list of every good and bad thing you do. Just about the time that you realize that Santa doesn't exist, you're learning about the 'fear of God'. Santa's red robes become white, the fatass goes on a diet, and rather than worrying about presents vs. coal, you get to think about Heaven vs. 'weeping and gnashing of teeth'.
"Well, Billybob, it's really the same as the coal principle, but now the coal's red hot, and God is going to make sure that it's shoved deep into your ass. Deep, Billybob, very deep. I want you to think for a moment about what that would feel like."
Billybob's eyes water up a bit. "That would hurt, Daddy."
Billybob's growing up just fine.
My cousin grew up as a Billybob. Somehow, a small piece of Virginia ended up in Northern California, and of course, my aunt chose this place to settle and smother her only child with thoughtless religion. He's totally fucked. When I was in High School, on Christmas morning, my aunt was convincing me to go to church with the argument, "It's Christmas. God would want you to go, Rand." I didn't want to argue and harm dear Billybob's fragile mind anymore than she was doing, I mean afterall, it's not like he turned into an adult who realizes that his mother's sensibilities are senseless, but never developed the skills to make decisions for himself. Her argument had merit though. I'm sure that if I was eternal, there would be a two thousand year block in which my calander matched up perfectly with the rotation of one particular planet (out of how many planets in the universe).... and there would be that one day that was circled, because that day was special. Some people say that stars are actually big balls of fire out in the sky; I like to think that God's just getting into the spirit of the season, and put up his Christmas lights.
My poor brother's heading out to Christmas at my aunt's... I'm lucky, I get to work. This chick pipes Christmas music 24 hours a day through her house. When I recorded my first CD, my cousin was listening to it... ten minutes later my aunt's spidey senses caused her to get that shit out of the player. I suppose that there's a time and a place for new material to be played... Christmas is for the oldies. I fucking hate Christmas songs. It's bad enough to listen to poorly written songs, but what the fuck is going through your mind as you play the same poorly written songs in repetition. "No, Rand... Bing Crosby's singing this one." Oh, that's a huge step up. Does anyone even hear what this shit is saying? "Later on, we can build a snowman and pretend that he is Parson Brown. He'll say 'Are you married?' ..." Umm... what? Are you telling me that the 'hip' Christmas song is about listening to a snowman that you just built? I want to slit my wrists when I think of the 'Leave it to Beaver' era, and if Beaver saw his mom vacuuming with one hand while leaning over gracefully to hear the sage wisdom of the snowman on the porch... I guarantee you that Beaver would be up in his room shooting up heroine. I'd be the one who sold it to him... entirely out of mercy.
Christmas falls in the heart of the winter; the winter is a time of death. The longest night of the year this year takes place on 12/21... 4 days off from the supposed most joyous day of the year. This makes sense symbolically.... night and darkness are classic symbols of joy. Two hundred years ago, surviving the winter was a concern. Food and wood better be stored up, or it's your ass. If grandpa gets a cold, he's probably going to die, and there's no drug store next door to help him. In a few years, after the Saudis nuke us, the Christmas spirit will live on, even as the realities of nature come into play.
"You saw that coyote first, Sam... you should get to bring it home to feed your family."
"I'm sorry that this means that your son will probably die of starvation, Rand."
"Don't you worry, Neighbor, the good Lord will provide for us, and besides, Santa has never passed over the Gray cabin in a time of need."
"Ha, ha... Right you are, good neighbor! You have yourself a merry Christmas!"
"How could I not? 'Tis a joyous season!"