Mum’s the Word

Falling through the universe at the speed of life

By David Glenn Cox

Our Medieval ancestors would be horrified, sure you’ve got the flush toilet, but you only celebrate Christmas one day! The twelve days of Christmas was a literal holiday season. “Hey, come to my Christmas Party today.” Sorry, I can’t we’re going to the wife’s parents. “Well then come tomorrow or the next day!” Like a Japanese anthill, “We will be celebrating the birth of our lord and savior between 12:45 and 1:15.” Their lives were largely painful and grueling but when it came to Christmas they knew how to party.

The Yule log was the section of tree closet to the root. The hardest wood that burns the hottest to keep the house warm while we get wasted. Imagine a knock at your door and four men in outlandish costumes walk into your house sit at your table and refuse to say a word. “What’s do you want? Do you want food? Do you want mead?” downing four glasses they silently get up and head for the door and then they stop and sing you a song and then leave. Mum’s the word. Frolic, merriment fun and games.

Then came Mister Dickens with his classic, “A Christmas Carol.” Doom, darkness, and despair! Chains dragged hearts broken with supernatural specters littering the landscape. The ultimate modern metaphor for Christmas. “You there young lad, is that fine turkey still in the butcher’s window?” I reckon it is sir! “Good I didn’t care if you had enough to eat yesterday but now, I do! Run buy it for me and be quick about it and I’ll give you money!” I dunno, a three-day drunken sing song still sounds like more fun.

These apparitions only show Scrooge his own memories. A wonderful Christmas sentiment, “Hey do you remember that time at Christmas when Dad said you couldn’t come home because you were a worthless piece of crap? Boy, those were the days! How about that time you let the beautiful girl slip away because you didn’t want to spend your life in grinding poverty like Bob Cratchit?  And now Tiny Tim is going to die because Scrooge is a miser. Oh no, it has nothing to do with Elizabethan medicine. It couldn’t be that! Maybe, if we’d used more leaches or mercury-based potions we could have saved him.

The tome strikes home because we all have those dark paragraphs in our lives. We all peek frightfully over the fence into eternity. Act Right Cause Hell Awaits You, you miserable wretch! Merry Christmas! When we are young, we live Christmas in the moment with presents and parties, the ghost of Christmas past. When we start our own families, we become the providers of Christmas, the ghost of Christmas present. Then let’s guilt trip you into believing all the world’s problems are caused by people just like you! Oh no, it couldn’t be Dickensian England. Talk about a buzz kill.

From a two-week celebration of joy and merriment to a dark corner of self-reflection and self-flagellation. The celebration of loss and the mistakes we’ve made in our lives. And we run downstairs Christmas morning and tear off all the wrapping paper, eat the dinner clean the dishes, and we’ll see you again next year. The twenty-first Century Christmas App for your phone! Now you can have that Christmas joy you always wanted in your own home or in your car while you’re driving to work.

The whole mixed metaphor doesn’t work. Jesus knows nothing about the winter Solstice, and the winter Solstice knows nothing about Jesus. Santa aimlessly wanders not knowing where he fits in all this. You have these two holidays co-existing in the same space at the same time. The Moskowitz Bar mitzvah and the Brannigan’s family reunion and keg party. On the one hand serious religiosity on the other, “The sun is staying up longer, so let’s drink!”

So, an angel appears to a lonely shepherd watching over his flock in the field. But it is December at his house too, why would a shepherd have his flock out in a field in December? There is no grass growing in December dude. Never mind just make it fit while I set up the Christmas tree. Oak was the tree of Thor hard and strong. The Christians choose the evergreen for its steadfastness. Greenery filled the house covering spinning wheels and work benches. No work, no spinning, no cobbling, this week we’re going party like it’s 1695!

From forgetting our troubles to dwelling on them. The original idea was a celebration. This is a good thing let’s not over think it. A neurotic Woody Allen Christmas, questioning life and existence over a bottle of Aqua Velva. Trying to cram Twelve Days of Christmas into an hour and half and wondering why you feel so empty inside.  Taking the meaning out of the ritual and then taking the ritual out of the ritual until all that’s left are throwing gifts at each other in front of a flashing electric tree. “Happy! Joyous!” After a three-day drunken sing song your brother-in-law is your brother-in-law. I love that SOB!

Happy and joyous are made of fun. Have fun, take your time and then have some more fun. Keep Christmas in your own way but have fun doing it. Forget about George Baily and Ebenezer Scrooge. This is a holiday to celebrate the end of our year’s toils and to chill out. To celebrate the goodness of life and not the threat of death.

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