So here’s a simple question for all you students of social psychology these days:
What’s up with all the Christmas decorations all ready?
It is several days before Thanksgiving. I am driving in my truck with my kid, when…sure enough…I espy another house with lit up, three foot candy canes and a jolly plastic Santa in the yard. Five minutes later, there is a glowing nativity scene, replete with plastic lambs and cows and…is that Easter grass under the baby Jesus?!
Please understand that I am a huge fan of holidays. Whether it be Christmas, Samhain, or Bastille Day, I am ready to have an excuse to break out the wine and eat a bunch of food and hang little guillotines on the tree. But there is a time for everything, and I have to wonder why they hell people feel compelled to break out the Christmas decorations a month and a half before Christmas?!
For the last few years, I have noticed people getting ready before Thanksgiving. O.K. It irked me, but I can live with it. This year, however, the stores were selling me Christmas plastic with my Halloween kitsch…and that, my friends, is simply over the line.
I will freely confess that Halloween is my favourite holiday. I love playing dress up, I love candy, I love scaring people and I love skulls and fog machines and fake blood. I love ghost stories and I love having the house in my neighborhood that all the kids are afraid to approach (o.k…that’s a year round thing, but it reaches its peak at Halloween). At what point did we as a nation decide to trounce all over my favourite holiday in favor of some stupid plastic snowflakes which hearken to a time two months hence?!
I understand the motivation for the retailers. The earlier the Christmas stuff gets on the shelves, the sooner people will go into the expected gift-buying frenzy. They make money off of it, it serves their purpose, the motivation is clear.
But ordinary people, with their nativity scene out on November 1? What is their motivation? Why are we all so desperate to get to Christmas?
I have a theory. I suspect that people are looking to Christmas to save them from the present. I suspect this is a symptom of the deep unease and dissatisfaction we are feeling with our society. Our culture is out of control like an alcoholic on a three day binge…spiraling rapidly into violence and apathy and junk food sex which we use to placate our hungry souls the other eleven…ten…make that eight months of the year. We are looking for something pure, something clean, something to remind us all of what is really important in life. If we could go ahead and see Dick Cheney now, clutching a small child to his chest while promising world peace in his fist, maybe everything would be o.k. Perhaps if we just believe hard enough, everyone else will put down their weapons and join us in a Christmas carol. Just like those soldiers back in World War I.
I suspect that we have moved past our need to light up the night in order to call back the sun, and have moved into a need to just bring some light somewhere, as our world seems increasingly shrouded in darkness. I have a certain sympathy for those with their Christmas lights up since the day after Halloween, as I suspect these people are the most afraid.
Be that as it may, I am sick and tired of Christmas, the season of light, stomping all over my holiday. This year, I am fighting back. Usually, I only light up the white light string across my porch in honor of the season. This year, the skull and eyeball lights are getting their fair share, too. My black Christmas tree will be covered in origami bats and skulls, and all the chocolates I make will greet their recipient with a toothy grin and hollow eyes. The presents are getting wrapped in black paper, and the dinner will be served on my best Halloween china.
There may even be pomegranates for dessert, if they make it that long.
After all, the Greeks had a story about a sojourn in the darkness, long before Jesus came. The Greeks understood that there is a time for everything, and everything in its season. They knew that one seed could be the path to enslavement in the underworld, but that even that price had its salvation. This year, I intend to meet Persephone as she greets the rising sun, and make sure she knew I knew she was coming. I will look deep into the pomegranate’s blood red depths and recognize the promise there. Perhaps, next year, we won’t feel the need to rush to salvation. Perhaps next year, Christmas can wait its turn.