A friend asked me tonight if there was something, subliminal perhaps, depressing about Christmas. I told him I think the way people have approached it has made it depressing. And I told him a little story, which he said I should write down and share with people. So here it is…
It happened in my 20's, when I still celebrated Christmas. I was with my parents. It was Christmas eve and I was sitting in my parents living room. I had all these presents around me that I’d just opened. And I realized how depressing it was. Nothing I really wanted was in any of those boxes. It’s not that I wasn’t grateful they had given me stuff. It’s just that what I really wanted was missing and it made me sad.
But, there was one thing that took my attention. It was a deck of playing cards with a picture of Santa Claus on them. One of those old 1950’s coca cola pics of him. He looked jolly and happy and full of vitality. And then I realized what it was. The thing I wanted. The thing I was sad was missing. It was magic.
When we were kids there was this conspiracy to make us believe this magical, Lord of Winter came to us in the night and left joy and happiness for us. There's nothing else like it in our culture, except maybe the tooth fairy and the boogie man.
Then when he hit a certain age, they take it away, and we're left forever after that with hole where the magic should be. It creates grief--a loop we cannot close. And its triggered every year when Christmas comes back around. What used to be an incredible time of unbelievable magic becomes a reminder of the loss of magic. And the belief in all things mundane.
Add to it the greed and all the freaking guilt and pressure people put on each other to buy each other shit as a yard stick of how much they love each other and you’ve got the recipe for misery.
In the old days it was about Saturnalia. It was a festival of abundance and good harvest and gratitude. But once the Christians got a hold of it they did what they always do...
They made it about loss.
When this time of year comes around, remember this: the same magic is present that was there when you were a child. You just have to choose it over the things that everyone else is telling you to value. That’s all.
Happy holidays, guys.