If there's a War on Christmas, I sure as hell haven't seen it. For the uninitiated, I live near Paramus, New Jersey, which is without a doubt the Mall Capital of the World. Within a five-mile radius, there are no fewer than four major shopping malls. OK, one of them is in Hackensack, but it's spitting distance from Paramus, so who's counting. And then there's the monstrosity that is Palisades Center, but that's maybe fifteen miles away and Willowbrook is about twenty. Suffice it to say that there are plenty of malls around here, and that's not to mention the smaller strip malls housing everything from Dick's Sporting Goods to Blinds To Go. If you live in this area, you can pretty much forget about getting anywhere without aggravating yourself to death between about the week before Thanksgiving and the second week of January. A trip to Trader Joe's for organic frozen spinach can take an hour -- and the store is barely three miles from my house.
One of the common refrains of the Walking Wounded, which is what I call those of us whose spouses have died (I won't say "lost" our spouses, because as the Dowager Countess so rightly noted, we didn't lose them, they died; it isn't as if they are wandering Bergen Town Center somewhere looking for spats at Saks Off Fifth) is this idea that everyone is enjoying the spirit of the season except us. It's sad, really, when I read these people posting about all the happy couples they see shopping, or the families with children whose visions of sugarplums are palpable. I don't know where these people live, unless they live in Hobbiton, because if you live near Paramus, New Jersey, what you see are angry people -- people fighting each other for parking spaces or left turns, people angry because Toys R Us is out of whatever plastic gewgaw that is guaranteed to be in heavy rotation at next summer's garage sales is the Latest Hot Toy. The diners are full of children running around endangering the waitresses while their exhausted parents choke down a cup of coffee in a vain attempt to stay awake through all this. Routes 4 and 17 are in perpetual gridlock. So I don't know where all these happy people are.
Here at Casa la Brilliant
, we're not exactly in the spirit of the season either, for obvious reasons. Oh, I made four different kinds of hand-frosted and hand-decorated holiday cookies, mostly because a) the friends I'm spending tomorrow with mentioned cookies, and b) I thought the neighbor kids who've been shoveling my driveway might enjoy them. But one thing that hasn't changed about this ritual is that every time I do it, I swear I'll never do it again. This year was no different. I'm a bit weepier than I've been in a while, but a lot of that is because Miss Maggie, my remaining cat from the Mr. Brilliant era, has a very bad upper respiratory infection in addition to her hyperthyroid and IBD, and is resisting about half the meds I'm trying to give her, most of which have to have been invented by someone who never tried to medicate a cat. She is giving every indication that, at age 14, she is getting ready to join Mr. Brilliant
and Miss Jenny-Lee
. This strikes me as being horribly unfair; why should he get BOTH of the cats we shared our life together with? I mean, I love Eli the Little Guy with all my heart, but he is still relatively new on the scene, and a new little sister for him would mean I have no pets with whom Mr. B. was seriously bonded. It all seems too much New Year New Start New Everything and I'm not sure I can take any more deaths right now.
But here we are, it's Christmas Eve Day in New Jersey, and everywhere you look, there are lights and decorations and "Keep Christ in Chritmas" signs on lawns, right next to the cheap plastic inflatable Santa in a hammock between two palm trees drinking a margarita. My neighbor's kids and grandkids all showed up wearing matching Santa hats (thankfully not rapping about their Christmas jammies
). The local "soft pop" music station has been playing 24-hour Christmas music for weeks, for those of you who haven't heard "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" enough times in your lives. There's even a nativity on the town square in my little home town full of Republicans. And yet, out there in Wingnuttia, there's still this idea that there is a war on Christmas and that Christians are being persecuted.
I don't know about where you live, but around here, no one is rounding up Christians and putting them into camps. No one is talking about "ethnic cleansing" of Christians. No one is throwing Christians into prisons and forcing them to undergo daily gynecological examinations
. So what is this "persecution" of which they speak? Who is really waging war here? In Las Vegas, a Salvation Army bell-ringer says she was assaulted
by one of these Christian Soldiers for saying "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas." In southern New Jersey, other Christian Soldiers torched a billboard which read, "Keep Saturn in Saturnalia
Here's what I don't understand: If Christians are so upset about the banishment of the Baby Jesus from the public consciousness, why aren't they out picketing the malls and decrying the orgy of consumption that typefies the season? Why aren't they calling for the banning of Christmas trees and mistletoe as pagan symbols? Do you think for one minute that when Sarah Palin, the High Priestess of Christian Grievance, shops at Nordstrom's with her wallet stuffed with SarahPAC money so she can buy presents for her various bastard grandchildren, she is thinking of the Baby Jesus? Or is she thinking how lucky she is to be able to rile up a bunch of yahoos enough that they keep her wallet stuffed?
Here in the Mall Capital of the World, here is one Jewish Pagan who is all for keeping Christ in Christmas. Let there be wonder at the inexplicable. Let there be hope of peace on earth. Let a little child inspire the world. At least that way I can buy a bag of frozen spinach to make myself the Casa la Brilliant
traditional Christmas Eve Indian dinner without it taking an hour.
Labels: Christmas, War on Christmas