I never thought I would say this, but at this time of year I miss Bill O’Reilly a teensy bit. His smarmy programs would reliably trot out the nonexistent War On Christmas each year just to get his viewership enraged. For myself, I never failed to be amused by this. I thought that if there really was such a war, it was being lost as badly as the War On Drugs has been.
In fact, during my lifetime the Christmas season has taken over more of the calendar than it ever did. The advertisements warning us to get out there and shop our little butts off used to begin after Thanksgiving. Now they come out right after Halloween. There’s no reason to suppose that this trend will stop there, and I look forward to the Labor Day Christmas Sales that are undoubtedly in the offing. I’ll bet they will be doozies.
My advice, my friends, is not to watch this video clip I borrowed from CNN unless you are prepared to have your life upended and your general level of paranoia about things in general doubled. Really … don’t watch it. I did and now I’m not sure what to do with the information.
Perhaps it was this single statistic that was the most alarming. This poisonous cloud expands at the rate of 1-2 meters per second, while I only move at the rate of 0.75 meters per second. My math tells me that every use of a pubic facility (where there are never any lids on commodes), is a bit like playing Russian Roulette when there is a bullet in every chamber.
So if you meet me on the street, and you see that my brow is furrowed and I seem distracted, it is because I am still processing. What to do when traveling?
It may mean that the only safe practice is to go back to what my parents did when I was a small child and I HAD TO GO RIGHT NOW! You stop the car along the highway, get out, and go into the cornfield far enough to have become invisible to passersby.
This approach, of course, would be useless where I now live. In the mountains there is a dearth of cornfields, and to get out of sight might require use of a sturdier four-wheel-drive vehicle than I presently own.
This dramatic research has prompted comments from our leaders around the country.
- Joseph Biden: No kiddin’?
- Nancy Pelosi: Who cares? Give me a few more months and I’m outta here.
- QAnon: We have looked into the matter and found that all of these toilets were installed by Hillary Clinton, and they were manufactured in sweatshops where slave children were forced by pedophiles to build the mechanisms that cause this spray.
- Anthony Fauci: Begin holding your breath as you reach for the flush lever, and don’t let that breath out until you’ve left the room. Then spray your face with hand cleaner.
This week President Zelensky of the Ukraine addressed a joint session of Congress. It was an extraordinary moment … this dramatic nonpartisan cheering for the man whose nation is caught up in a very unequal conflict.
Of course I am cheering the Ukrainians on, from inside a comfortably heated dwelling in a quiet village where the electricity is on, the shops are jammed with things I don’t really need but can’t wait to get my hands on, and I can go anywhere in town without worrying about bombs falling.
It is embarrassingly easy for me to shout “Go for it, Ukrainians, show Putin that he can’t get away with this crap.” Not only am I not suffering, I am not even inconvenienced.
After some prolonged navel-gazing the other day, I realized something about myself and Christmas. Each year, I begin the whole season armed with the full-bore-Dickensian-19th century-tra la la Christmas in my head. The whole thing. I have forgotten any disappointments, tragedies, irritations, faux pas, mistakes, frozen engines, stuck cars, cookie disasters, and miscellaneous maladies from past Christmases.
Gone. As if they never existed or happened. I become Scrooge yelling at the passing urchin to fetch the biggest and best turkey and send it to the Cratchits, if you please. And if you’re quick enough, my lad, there will be an extra farthing in it for you.
I am the kid lusting after the Red Ryder Carbine in spite of the undeniable fact that it is hazardous. (In fact, in real life I did get exactly that air rifle way way back there in the mists of time. And although I did not shoot my eye out, I did need cataract surgery seventy years later, and perhaps the two events were related somehow.)
I am James Stewart at long last realizing that with lovely Donna Reed waiting for me at home, why drown?
I am every error that Clark Griswold ever made in the movie Christmas Vacation, minus the squirrel. I was never involved with a squirrel .. well … except for that one time when I was eight and made a grab for one and it bit right through my thumb just like that.
By the time Christmas Eve finally rolls around, that imaginary English Christmas I begin with has taken a few hits, been chipped a bit, and is not nearly as shiny as it started out. But there is always enough left to charm my soul, to awaken the embarrassing sentimental parts of my brain that I can usually keep tucked away well enough that most folks don’t know about them.
So before I get too moist, Merry Christmas to you all from your neighborhood Buddhist geezer. I make you an offer. If you’re alone and life is getting you down right now, Zoom me and we can hum a tune or two together. Or if humming is out of the question, at least we can talk about how things these days aren’t what they used to be. Never get tired of that.
And finally. Got to play this one more time. It’s Little Drummer Boy as might have been envisioned by a marching band instructor at a military academy in 1776.
NMP*: Not my photograph. Usually borrowed for the day from the internet.