Matthew Paris :: Xiccarph :: View topic - The Odium of Christmas
The Odium of Christmas
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Matthew Paris
 

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Post Fri Jan 30, 2004 7:15 pm - The Odium of Christmas
Christmas is an American holiday that has to be worked up to for a month or more; it canít be approached without over thirty days of alchemical ritual. First one has to celebrate Thanksgiving in the way only Americans can embrace a national holiday.
Before that sainted day of porcine revels can begin some tens of millions of turkeys are killed on farmed, cut up, froze
and delivered to supermarkets all over the country. The sheer volume of murder of these stupid but innocent foul is merely a prelude to the mayhem afterwards. Probably thousands of people are killed in automobiles making their way to these dour fests. Their last words might be that if death itself was the only way for them to avoid these even more deadly rites it was worth it. The traffic on Thanksgiving morning is filled with unhappy people fulfilling obligations they donít know how they incurred. It shows in the swaggering and reckless character of how they drive on oily highways that are dangerous and often slippery with bad weather.
To get to these dour ceremonies of pain and loss one has to pile into a car, drive a hundred miles fielding the swerving and hoking furies of impersonal demons equally in a rage at their obscure indenture, show up at the home of people one ordinarily doesn't want to speak to at any time with on any pretext, a gaggle whose bellicosity and dreadful melancholia has disposed one over a lifetime to avoid them if they see them on the street first, usually the worst of oneís blood relatives, than bundle oneself into a chair and stare in a stupor at the Army-Navy feedable game because one has absolutely nothing to say to these armored and dyspeptic revelers and they have even less than nothing to say to oneself if possible.
The blaring of the television set conceals at lowliest from some the untainted absence of any communication in the room as well as the desire in an envelope or abyss to continue it, if necessary forever. At least if we are strangers we can say we shared the same room in our single room occupancy cell, revelling in our solarity in our invulnerable private envelope. Whom we might say this to in heaven or Earth is another matter.
After one endures and participates in this hellish deed of virtual silence in the blare of electronic sensory images, sipping a beer surreptitiously to keep down ones anger that one is in the room with such odious characters in the first pace, one puts down like a muscle spasm in oneís through the itch to dispatch them all with a shotgun or some ordinary poison.
Yet as one takes in the simulated war of these athletes one reflects that as miserable and envenomed with inner anguish as one feels, at least one isnít getting pummeled to the point of having a life long knee condition or crippling back ailment as these feckless young men are for oneís own wretched saturnine pleasure.
After the second blessed beer one is invited into the dinning room by harried and perspiring women who have concocted this feast for veteran dinner table porkers: a dinner of turkey, sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, a leaden fungoid dressing, and such dull heavy fare as experts of culinary arts from Manitoba to Poughkipsie guarantee will put one and several elephants besides oneself to sleep. Exactly what one is celebrating ins never clear; perhaps it is oneís own momentary lack of devouring hunger if the alternatives seems to be keeling over softly in a near lethal carnal stupor.
Certainly it can't be the never all that remote and hardly interesting issue of the survival of the Puritans, those insanely vitriolic religious fanatics rousted out of England for their vulgar incivility who were in fact wiped out nearly completely in the first two years of their primitive little settlement at Plymouth, eighty percent of them perishes from excessively snowy winters or one viral disease or another.
It can't be either honoring the subsequent peace between White men and Indians. As soon as the Europeans had a base in the United states and could kill the New World native neighbors with relative impunity they quite systematically massacred the Indians. Itís not likely one is in some deep resonance with the hopes of these lumpish perished Puritans either.
If the Puritans knew the largely atheistical materialistic empire beneath a sentimental and ceremonial homage to old and tired gods, mostly quite human Jews extant a few millennia ago they had helped engender thou would either go out to bring down the state or travel even further west on vast Pacific oceans or the very ether of space, perhaps to Australia or to Mars. Maybe the great slaughter of turkeys is along with prison and occasional colonial wars keeping the country from a Depression.
One eats this gigantic meal that nearly breaks the table cooked for the terminally half skunked and adipose, guzzles a dram of egg nog laced with cheap whisky from a vat larded with rye, cinnamon and ice, then after kissing a few aging and ill-scented people whom one finds at once morally despicable and socially unbearable, returns home as soon as it seems civilly possible to bolt out the door in to the real world of the wilderness.
One glides home to the soporific music of hillbillies on Quaaludes by the same stale route, deftly avoiding the murderous character of the traffic, happy in a grim manner to be away from supposed tribal alleys who cannot wait for one to die badly and expensively, whom one has pointed been avoiding oneís whole life by living as far from them as possible.
On the road one beyond the placards blocking a view of landscape beyond of smoky and fetid industrial towns selling one razor blades selling sees thousands of cut down pine trees ready to be hauled like gigantic stork necks to markets in trucks, a massacre of pines that hails the advent of the next etude in embracing the next brainless sacred revel.
If there are any turkeys left over theyíll be dispatched too unless they are ready to lay stout eggs and produce even more feathered gobblers to be destroyed in a great devouring meat festival, kidneys, gizzards and all. America is good for White folks, bad for turkeys.
There is a blur in cuisine in holidays in our country that makes them all one large fatty caloric pudding. One eats pumpkin pie on both Halloween and Thanksgiving. In a way itís better to pay homage to demons than to scurvy Puritans of course; demons at least have an a reputation for honest and mercurial sensuality. One shoots off firecrackers in America at all times, even with no holiday and when one is totally alone in a shopping mall parking lot at midnight.
As one enters oneís own domicile one hears the first strains of Christmas songs coming from a Japanese television set that is never turned off even if oneís entire family is being butchered by a gang of serial killers. It is a mťlange of all sorts of treacly anthems from medieval England, a country once mired in a hopeless poverty we ousted from our shores in three wars to the death to rid ourselves of their arrogance and venom, a few beery German ditties worthy of the ethics of that nation, an Italian sugary number or two.
One mumbles something about the good qualities of virgins and the value of innocence that must have been campsite by hustlers and carnival barkers, all supposedly praising the fear tale atmosphere of milquetoast charity and calm that is selling like a great odorous emphatic cloud over the world with the coming supposed birthday of Jesus.
One thinks how baffled the legendary Jesus himself would vade been by such exotic celebrations had he heard of them while he muttered barochas and lit the Hanukkah candles. He never heard of the legless corpse of a pine tree in his hour covered with plastic sprinkles, heavy with green electric lights or devouring a rotting gobbler, much less gnawing on its capacious skeleton. He listened mostly to out of tune bazoukie music.
In fact nothing makes people more depressed than these current honeyed tunes, thinking as they hears such babble that their own lives and intimates are truculent, nasty, tedious and hopelessly tragic in their uncouth and unconscionably rank lives as one is oneself.
One sits down on oneís own couch and thinks to oneself mordantly that one still doesnít know what one is celebrating. It can't be the birth of Jesus nor his unfortunate public execution; history has been for everybody after his coming and going much worse than before his advent. If anything the mortality of Jesus was a sign that as bad as life was on Earth, it was going to become even more nightmarish very soon. There was never a world bloody with massacre before his demise quite as terrible as the one after he was dispatched to the present day.
One turns on the news between the ooze of sonic treacle and reflects that nobody ever dropped an atomic bomb or enslaved most of the world with piety while claiming the son of God told them to do it before this estimable Hebrew had arrived on the planet. One is almost certainly nodding as the cyclical miracle of the winter solstice; yet one has banished most of the discomfort of winter from oneís life by staying indoors. One isnít remembering the life and death of Jesus and his crew either; at this time they were all busily preparing for Hanukkah, not Christmas.
Today one never hears of anybody at Christmas celebrating Hanukkah but Jews.
As one settles into the soft shroud of the couch and ruminates on the fanciful idea that some errant progeny of God has died for one, true or false, the harvest of the news clearly points out that to oneself as one listened with saturnine distemper to these manically merry or fragrantly sleepy tunes that not even the death of one celebrated as the charismatic rabbi Joshua was enough to take oneís misery and woe out of oneís black and opaque heart.
It was all too sorrily plain from the television set that the world had gotten worse, not better, was plummeting to an unknown moral nadir somewhat below the abysses of tolerable ethics with no sign of redemption anywhere on Earth until somebody invented an efficient electric toaster.
Perhaps it is some half forgotten German holiday connected with the slaughter of trees was the root of this rite. Maybe that nation began its military preparation traditionally by the genocide of the local forests.
As one settles into the seat for a snooze the kids, watching these incessant and tireless television programs wake one up demanding that one go down to a mall to buy gifts and cards for everyone one knows, doesn't know and would never want to know. The whole community and beyond will be there picking up lamps nobody needs, autographed photographs of themselves smiling into space mounted in gold frames for oneís walls, rugs from some interior province of China, all of which one is supposed to open and then say in a gushing voice how grateful and happy they are to have received these wonderful etudes in applied, focused charity.
If it werenít enough to find for a month one can't excess how much one dislikes being around certain terminally odious people, one has deja with Santa Claus impersonators everywhere, maundering around the banks, the brothels, the super-markets. The idea of Santa Claus to anyone, eve a child should be lethally offensive, one thinks. Santa Claus is the ultimate consumerism, the champion of Welfare, the adipose, bilious drunken Nordic boor who canít even have the civility to show up at the front door when he enters oneís home.
Itís no wonder, one thinks, that he is exiled to the North Pole like Frankensteinís monster; he is a bibulous red cheeked venom who deserves to be throttled, not merely dismissed as socially impossible. Santa Claus himself though he has a wife is childless; he obviously knows nothing about kids, has no idea he is corrupting them with these unwanted presents.
Some say he is not only moral but a judge of tykes; he leaves coal in the stockings of wicked children. If true he is all the more despicable in his arrogance. Who judges Santa Claus? Who would bother?
One looks at oneís bank account and finds less than nothing, checks onesí credit, finds for just reasons one had none, and goes down grumblingly to the cellar to wrap the gifts one got last year and give them to people who hadnít brought them over to ones house to be stored away until after the end of time.
One can give such gifts in the proper spirit of revenge,. This time one might set a bonfire of whatever one receives and cook flayed and quartered chickens on the blaze. At least there will be eggnog with plenty of whiskey in that creamy brew to soften the despairs and the bouts of the blues.
The card makers are hiring bad poets to turn out tripe that has a new twist knowing their clientele has been hording the saccharine and lobotomized cards they got, erasing the names of the signees, sending them out again in brown paper envelopes.
The owners of the stores in the cities and malls wait for the crowd of customers, knowing how much they are in debt to the banks, hoping they can last till Gainer after one last to the walls clearance sale where they offer the same goods nobody wants the next day at a tenth of the price.
Theyíre packing the stuff they hid in the cellar too for people how would be offended if they didnít get gifts from them. The credit card companies are hanging oat, hoping they donít have to go into receivership and clear out of town to set up the same racket in Canada.
The owners of the banks are thinking, if we can only expand Christmas not only all over the world but other planets maybe we can get enough people or even aliens to cover their loans to Argentina and Senegal that nobody will ever pay off. The owners of the pine forests are planting new trees already so they can slaughter them and sell them next Christmas or maybe even Hanukkah.
The turkey farmers are hoping some of the eggs theyíre getting form the survivors their last bird massacre will hatch so they have more turkeys to kill and sell for next Easter, Veterans Day and thanksgiving. Maybe they can start a new American tradition, a big turkey dinner on George Washingtonís birthday.
Christmas like all American holidays is great for the booze business. Itís now also a big winner for pharmacies. Since nearly everybody is in pain from thinking how miserable and hopeless their lives are, there is nothing like repairing to the liquor store to lull the woeful to a tranquility close to death or even beyond death; one can achieve the same effect with a pill or two from a bottle covered by ones health plan as a necessity for a knee condition.
Of course one can turn off the television, send people a copy of Emersonís Essays including the excellent one on not wanting nor giving gifts and becoming a recluse for a month. Itís easier if one is Jewish. Itís even easier if one is Islamic.
Yet itís only a little easier if one is Jewish. Jews fall into giving gifts, shopping wildly, sending cards and even decorating a Hanukkah bush around late December. It might be even easier to escape this wildly social turkey-devouring commercial madness if one were hopelessly poor.
Being an Islamic terrorist might be another optimal point of departure from Christmas. Osama bin Laden setting in a cave may mourn the lack of comfort in his life but at least he doesn't have to go shopping for plastic gifts for his friends.
Yet itís only a little easier. Jews fall into giving gifts, shopping wildly, sending cards and even decorating a Hanukkah bush around late December. It might be even easier to escape this wildly social turkey-devouring commercial madness in America if one were a disciple of Allah, found a nice desert to wander in and was hopelessly poor.
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