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In my local specialty food store, a robust lady shopper thrust herself between the delicate rows of tasty morsels and, lunging ahead of me, claimed the last packet of imported biscuits. Clutching it to her bosom, she turned to me, locked her eyes with mine and, giving a triumphant nod, walked off.
In the same store, two other shoppers were grumbling loudly: “I can’t stand it!” moaned one. “To hell with it,” barked the other. “I’m going to spend the whole day in bed and wake up when it’s all over!”
Season of the Witch? Hardly, just the onset of yet another Merry Christmas.
Even the devout loyalists and traditionalists among us succumb to the “holiday season,” a time for inner reflection and an accent on human virtue that has somehow crumbled into a chaotic, cumbersome commercial. A glittering box, increasingly empty inside.
We have only ourselves to blame. As the days turn crisp, the best of us are lulled by a frenzy into buying, wrapping, trimming and stuffing with delirium.
Logic watches quietly as we contemplate the values of double-sided Scotch tape and dishes with festive firs painted on them.
Ravaged by retailers and cajoled by cunning advertisers, we are rarely allowed to peep beyond the tinsel and He, whom we are supposed to be commemorating, has become a sideshow.
People, whom we abominate all year long, suddenly become victims of our propriety. Must remember the Joneses, even though they’re a bore. Mustn’t forget the Smiths, even though they’re cheap and probably won’t reciprocate. On second thought, cancel those rotten Smiths, altogether. Last year, they gave us the toaster we gave them two years ago. You know the one? Aunt Prudence gave it to us three Christmases ago.
Now, what to buy for Aunt Pru. We all know she will spend the entire holiday complaining about her lumbago. Still, with any luck, she’ll have popped off by next year, leaving behind a huge inheritance. So, try and be nice to her. We’ll give her some more talcum powder. It’ll keep the others on her dresser company.
Little Johnny wants pricey electronics. Better buy them for him or he’ll become insufferable. Never mind about the hole in our wallets. We’ll just save harder next year so that we can make a bigger hole.
Cousins Evie and Ivy can have the twin bracelets. So what if cousin Ivy is a biker chick and hates charms. No time to change the gift-list. She’ll just have to like it, or lump it.
The struggle continues. There’s a week left and the tree’s still not up. Bring it down from the attic and dust it off. The artificial kind are the best. They’re more real than the real ones. Never mind about the angel being wingless or that Santa’s beard is coming off. Dab a bit of glue on it and nobody will be any the wiser.
Only a few days left. More wrapping. More Scotch tape. Mustn’t forget the aspirin. Quick swig of the cooking sherry and back to the drawing board.
Christmas Eve, already? The cookies are driving everybody nuts. How many bushels can you damn decorate? There are still six presents left to buy and wrap. Where’s that Scotch tape?
Between the hyperventilations, save a passing thought for Yuletide of yesteryear. Then, a little meant a lot and happy memories were gleefully appreciated. What the hell happened?
Wish it were that the holidays were a time for relaxing and enjoying. Wish there was enough time to visit the sick and tend to the poor. Never mind, I’m sure somebody else will do it. Wish I could, but I just ran out of Scotch tape. Must get some more before the stores close. A little more cream in the nog. Hope there’s enough food for everybody. Wonder if Grandma will like her bonsai plant, complete with magnifying glass.
Next year, I’m going to really celebrate. Simply, serviceably and, most of all, sincerely. In the meantime, if that goose gives me any trouble tomorrow, I’m going to wring its damn neck.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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