Because he was scrubby and dirty they took him in . . .
And because he was so dirty, they named him “Harry.”
This Christmas, act like a Christian.
Uh-uhhh, I didn’t say be a Christian, your kneecaps bending on a cold floor, your hands steepled, eyes rolled in gooey piety. No prayers at all are always better than insincere ones.
I mean act with grace, openness, generosity, tolerance, forgiveness. Pull in your teeth and claws for once, just for awhile (yeah, I know it’s hard). I have supped full of rage and here, a little self-denial is called for.
Christianity may not have been precisely first with the ideas mentioned above, but it was the first to synthesize them into a general philosophy in western civilization, a stance toward life, the world, society and the lonely individual that runs like subtle wine through so much that even most fundamentalist atheists pay inadvertent tribute to them (and bless Christopher Hitchens’ peppery serrated soul; I hope he’s enjoying a Nice Surprise about now.)
A digression: if you read the Four Gospels you will learn, among many things, that there absolutely no rich and powerful people in it at all; only peasants, farmers, whores, criminals and drunken bums; and when rich folk are mentioned it is not complimentary.
You will also learn that Jesus was neither sulfurous fire-spitting Pat Robertson nor a boring Nice White Guy from Minnesota who looks just like Willem Dafoe.
Now I’ve always loved Christmas, a stand offensive to anhedonics (who would be bummed out if I took the opposite tack anyway: “Oh, you’re just pandering to me, you two-faced phony.”).
But like many of you, I deeply loathe the insulting heretical Über-Capitalist’s Holiday; a miserable, moneyed tyranny, supported by Fox News propaganda, where WalMart is the True Church; where even Ebenezer Scrooge looks heroically wise and monkish in his self-denial. All the color is a mere fig leaf for a desperate materialism. It’s Target we kneel and pray to.
If you really want to rebel against Christmas, to avoid both the trap of Wal-Mart and the barrenness of Scrooge (as these Christians do), try the following:
Be a cheapskate. Instead of buying that $200 Popeil potato masher, even if it is for the person you love most in the world (the damn thing will just break after they slice off their fingers anyway), instead buy your Someone their favorite food, drink or even a charming little what not; something that will bring more than temporary delight, that will carve deeper than an electric carving knife.
A friend of ours from a certain somewhere tells us he and his family go dirt cheap on gifts; so cheap that the first question they ask on receipt is “How much did it cost?” Instead, they blow their budget on the best food and the best drink and bury their faces in the dining room table. I find this deeply appealing (and screw the Health Nazis; they’re nearly as bad as WalMart). There’s a companionship in sharing food and sparkling conversation that the complete DVD set of Buffy the Vampire Slayer can never capture.
If you happen to go outside (this is the Internet Age after all), store some of your cash in a convenient pocket. Then, if you run into a needy person, give some to them, with no conditions and no questions. Loyal readers of Bay Area columnist Jon Carroll know this as the “Untied Way.” He recommends $20 bills . . . but any amount will do I believe. And throw in a smile.
That really could be you hanging over that gutter someday. It was once almost me.
Then stop by your favorite drinking establishment, coffeehouse, or tavern, and buy a round for one or everyone (difficult for me this year, as I’m on the wagon, doctor’s orders.)
In other words, try and keep it simple, as simple as a Bethlehem manger of sweet legend, though maybe a little warmer.
Sometimes a plate of fudge, a bowl of chili and thou is all I need.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and see you all in the New 2012.
Copyright 2011 by Thomas Burchfield
Photo by Author
Thomas Burchfield's contemporary Dracula novel Dragon's Ark is available right NOW, published by Ambler House Publishing. It can be ordered in both paperback and e-book editions through your local independent bookstore, through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powell's Books, Smashwords, Scrib'd and now at the Red Room bookstore. His original comic screenplay Whackers is now available in Kindle, Nook, iPad and on Scrib'd, also from Ambler House. His screenplayThe Uglies, a crime saga, will be out exclusively as an e-book soon. Other material can also be read at The Red Room website for writers. Not enough for ya? He can also be friended on Facebook, tweeted at on Twitter and e-mailed at tbdeluxe [at] sbcglobal [dot] net.
Causes Thomas Burchfield Supports
The Nature Conservancy; Africare; Capitol Public Radio