Don't Joke

12/15/2010, 11:45 AM

I realize that, of late, I have shared precious little in terms of ideas, but the holiday season has ensnared me, and I am forever a fool for it.

At the moment, Molly and I are vacillating regarding the evolving quandary over which aspects of holiday-era things to observe and recognize. It is (in general) getting colder, and people are progressively erratic - both sentimental and temperamental, while more a few of them are "tired and emotional" with ever-stiffer holiday cocktails. There's inappropriate matter in pockets the world over (e.g., the Netherlands with Santa's dwarf slave, "Black Pete"). The chromatic palette of the West shrinks to absurd, near-complementary combinations. I wonder what sense there is to be made. And, furthermore, whether we stand any chance at making it.

I already know that we won't be going to Wal-Mart, which is as close as possible to a foregone conclusion. It needs saying that I am relieved not to see those grotesque inflatable Wal-Mart ornaments adorning the yards of otherwise-taciturn townsfolk. I have never endorsed vandalism or destruction of property that isn't mine, but never have I felt such temptation to poke anything with a pin. So there's none of that. We live right in the center of a smallish downtown that's positively effing abuzz and wreathy and fancypants everything so as to render reverie an inescapable fact. Like a beautiful ball to which nobody is ever invited.

Will we honor Winter Solstice instead? I mean, it happens to everybody, and any reasonable person could make a reasonable case for: (a) the calendar flushing a toilet on itself; (b) indulging hibernatory instincts; and/or (c) lowering the bar for what "good" feels like.

My own favorite way to approach it is to act like we're all stuck in a meat locker and don't know when (or, indeed, if) we'll ever get out. This explains it all: the inordinate weirdness and the encroaching sense of urgency and the anomalously feverish compulsions for consumption and conviviality. Not to mention the pop-culture fixation upon babies being born in barns, as if having been conceived immaculately weren't enough for all involved. And being given myrrh and frankincense from "wise" men like it's somehow helpful on a frigid night. That's just what we'll be doing in that meat locker - praying for myrrh.

But, what about Santa Claus? We've not gone to specified lengths in any specific direction regarding Santa, although we remain on friendly terms. We figure that Desmond will absorb that which he wishes to absorb, because the holidays are so much about celebrating that we have each other that the iconography is moot.

Last week, while Desmond and I were out on a tiny grocery shopping expedition (we try to make our jaunts tiny ones because people everywhere have this type of rabies that makes them impetuous and flagrant), we saw Santa standing atop a construction lift in the middle of the train station that is being built in Brunswick (Maine Street Station, about 500 feet from our house). Despite the dubious legitimacy of his wearing cop-style sunglasses, we went to him, he ho-ho-hoed at us, and Desmond had his photograph taken with him. Desmond told him about the various things that Brunswick, Maine has to offer ("Over there is the Brunswick Explorer bus. It goes around Brunswick on weekdays."), inquired as to the whereabouts of Santa's cadre of reindeer (he reported, not very imaginatively, that they were "eating lunch"), and demonstrated his extant talent for finding topics of conversation that leave most grown-ups (myself included) eating his damn dust. And if he thinks for a second that he's not being taken seriously, then he'll tell you straight up, in a voice whose grave intensity matches his unwavering glare:



  1. Don't F wit da Desmond!

  2. I enjoyed this. Santa/Christmas is a tough one. I believe a) that the tilt of the earth on its axis as it revolves around the sun is the reason for the season, and b) children need more impressive magic than axial tilt to get them through the winter, and through childhood as a whole.