Tis the season

One day the writing about writing police will come knocking and tell me I’ve taken too many liberties with this blog. But until then…

I am not going to rant about how oppressive and overblown the season is. At least not for more than 558 words. Many people get it right, rejoice in it, long for it even. So I feel there’s enough good cheer around for me to make one or two observations about the weight of it all.

Oh great, another Jew goes on about the hegemony of Christmas. But it’s my blog and you can leave. On the other hand, you needn’t worry if you are reading this to your 3 or 7 year old. I’m not planning to bust any seasonal myths.

Every year at this time, not once, but at least 47 times, I find myself walking along the street whistling or humming the seasonal tunes I can’t stand. Let It Snow. I’ll Be Home For Christmas. I stop and feel a moment’s gratitude that I don’t work in retail. An hour later it happens again.

Christmas starts when Halloween ends. Here in Canada there is no Thanksgiving buffer. It’s Jingle Bells Rock full speed ahead. What’cha gonna get? What’cha gonna serve? What’cha gonna wear?  I could turn a blind eye, refuse to buy in, go south. I never do.

I get caught up. Much of it my own doing. But I feel that, as a Jew, it’s not completely my fault. Unless you live in Israel, or parts of Brooklyn, it’s impossible to avoid. 

I don't even try. I  throw myself into festive competition. I host a Hanukkah party that features latkes. And prunes wrapped in bacon. I do it a couple of Saturdays before Christmas, on the night that seventeen others hold their holiday doo. Then I’m disappointed when people can’t come because they have other plans. Not exactly the sign of seasonal indifference.

I’ve been thinking about the expression “Tis the season” and wondering: for what? If you believe the song, it’s jolliness, which as far as I’m concerned is not a genuine emotion. Jolly has a forced feel to it, a ho ho ho feel. Who says ho ho ho and means it? Yet it’s fitting, because so many people feel obligated to ho ho ho their way through the season, for fear they’ll be pegged a Grinch or a party pooper, or worse, invited to gatherings of people they neither care about, nor are related to.

Tis the season of expectations. Greater expectations than usual, even for non-Christians. Expectations for getting stuff, feeling stuff, giving stuff, connecting through stuff, and stuffing yourself. All packed around this one day. Thus it’s the season of disappointment. Greater disappointment than usual, when you find yourself alone, or not alone enough. Overwhelmed, overweight, over-extended, forcing seasonal cheer, while witnessing a fleeting, compacted, knee jerk, if any, outpouring of goodwill to all “men”.

And yet... every year I want to love it. The kids are off school, everyone’s together, hanging out, together, hanging out, together. Once New Year's Eve is done and the sluggish, heaviness that is New Year's day is behind me, it’s like something has been lifted. I can breathe again.

Happy Christmas. Merry Hannukah. Bring on 2012.

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