Monday, December 7, 2009


It's a strange word.

That's the only segue I could think of. Christmas is here. Talk all you want about "the holidays," put those light-up Menorahs on the dashboard and cut the mistletoe at Stonehenge, but that's all part of the politeness conspiracy because December is still. All. About. Christmas. (In the Western world. I don't think Iran is gonna have a tree lighting ceremony this year.)

Here are some things I know:

Jesus was most likely born in April, not December.

The Christians appropriated many pagan festivals, most notably Saturnalia, when developing Christmas.

Most cultures in the world have some sort of celebration around the winter solstice because hey, the sun doesn't seem to be around as much this time of year, should we be worried?

Here are some other things I know:

Stores put out the Christmas decorations on Halloween.

All but the most militant of non-Christian families need at least one picture of their kid in Santa's lap.

Americans can't agree on much, but we can all agree on Christmas: there's gonna be a tree, the color scheme is red and green, and the main food is either turkey, ham, or goose. Adults will get blasted on rum and eggnog and kids will get blasted on candy canes. And presents--oh, will there be presents. Most likely brought by a fat guy in a red suit. In Japan, he's called Annual Gift Man and he lives on the moon.

Even the act of NOT participating in Christmas--agreeing not to exchange presents, going out for Chinese food on Christmas Day, scrubbing the toilet and watching anime until your eyeballs bleed kung fu--validates the holiday, as the very reason for your protest is still Christmas. It's omitted, but it leaves a pine tree-shaped hole in your life that other people can sniff out from a mile away.

I'm putting all of this out there for everyone to read because I only want to have the bah-humbug conversation once. We can all agree that Christmas is a holiday cribbed together from various traditions that has degenerated into a celebration of conspicuous consumption. And the music sucks.

There. It's said.

Now, here's a dirty little secret of mine: I love Christmas. I love the colors and the lights and the parties. I love to dress up and get sloppy-giggly drunk with my friends (an activity not strictly confined to December). I love Christmas trees and Christmas lights and garland and the Christmas ornaments we used to put on the tree when I was little. I love getting presents and when I have the money I love giving presents and there's nothing like the hush of Christmas morning when everyone is sitting at home in their pajamas drinking eggnog at 10 in the morning. I never take my Christmas lights down. I still don't like the music, but I do love Santa.

In Ka'u, Santa was always played by this guy named Eugene Dudiot who was burned black as lava from his days out in the Hawaiian sun. (Ka'u is actually called "land of the burned backs," which isn't as cool as its "land of the rebels" nickname, but is pretty accurate nonetheless.) Eugene Dudiot--like "dude," but "dude-wah." Santa Dude-wah.

I'll leave you with that.

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