Wednesday, December 26, 2007

My heart healthy meaning of Christmas.

Well another Christmas is in the can. The trash is full of opened boxes and torn wrapping paper; you may be enjoying some of the gifts you've received (my copy of Billy Joel's 52nd Street is playing in the background right now); perhaps you're finishing the last tin of Christmas tree shaped sugar cookies. Now that I've gotten all that Christmas nonsense that's been going on since the end of Thanksgiving out of the way, I'm in my favorite holidays of the year, the oft overlooked five day period between Christmas and New Years Eve. I like to call it "the neutral period".

It's a great little stretched sandwiched between two monster holidays where there's no expectations or preparations for anything. You just sit there, bask in the past shadow of that leviathan known as "the holiday season" and wait for the New Year to show up. It's the shortest span of time between major holidays so you can't really get yourself out of that lazy, no responsibility mindset before the next one shows up. Also for me personally, as a life long academic (i.e. person who never held a real world job) "the neutral period" has always been the heart of my winter break so its even sweeter. I dread the day when I'll most likely be forced to cram in some work time in between, thus obliterating most of the peace and wonderfulness of "the neutral period."

Well, I could always just never get a real job.

As you may have inferred from the tone of my writing so far, I'm not the biggest fan of Christmas or the holiday season in general. I wouldn't say I'm anti-holidays but I think it's all just too much effort. As is the case with all holidays, I personally don't like holidays telling me what to do. Whether it be buying cards on Mother's Day or eating turkey on Thanksgiving. I'll do it if I feel like it, but I shouldn't get flak for not doing it. I can mail my mother an appreciative card all the while preparing a turkey dinner that I'd be thankful for on a Tuesday in March. I think fetishizing these things for certain days kinda lowers the bar on other days of the year. Shouldn't you appreciate your mother and be thankful as often as possible? So when the holidays (and "the holiday spirit") comes along and basically becomes the be all end all day for caring, generosity, and good will, it gets to me a little. I also don't like the fact that it hijacks most of pop culture, i.e. holiday movies, songs, commercials, TV specials, etc. You don't see the 4th of July doing that (unless you count Lee Greenwood).

That being said of all baggage that the holiday season brings there's one tradition that for some reason rises above all others as what this time means to me. Some people have their "It's a Wonderful Life" or "A Christmas Story" moments or the "A Charlie Brown Christmas" or (the extremely underrated) "Garfield Christmas". For some the lasting image of the holidays is less secular like Midnight mass or nativity scenes. Some people might just find the lasting image and meaning of the holidays in the time spent with their families and giving, and good works, etc. etc. Those are all well and good but for me it just isn't Christmas until I see the bee.

I'm pretty sure anyone who has watched any significant amount of television around the holidays during the last decade and a half has seen that commercial. In fact, its yearly airing even today must mean that people other than me find this ad to be more than just a 30 second spot for cereal. Aside from being one of my oldest Christmas memories, there's just something special about this commercial. For me there's a hopefulness and message of good will that doesn't seem forced upon you. When Scrooge is given the bowl of cereal it's not like he's magically transformed into the living embodiment of the Christmas spirit., which I've always found unsettling about the ending to all the versions of a "Christmas Carol" whether it be stage, screen, or Muppet. On Christmas morning after the ghosts Scrooge becomes downright psychotic in his sudden love of Christmas running around like a fanatic, goose waiving, philanthropy machine. If I was Bob Cratchit I'd be happy for the promotion and family dinner but I'd drop a serious "WTF?" on the whole situation.

In contrast the cereal merely manages to bring up his eyebrows with a spark of optimism and it quickly ends there with him looking out the window, the possibility of hope. For all we know that after that delicious bowl of Cheerios he's back to being the miserable gruel eating tightwad he was in the beginning. At least however for that moment there might have been a slight change, an ever so slight victory. In this hard, difficult world with all its problems and inherent wrongs and the tiny, all too short lives we lead within them, it's these small personal victories, however fleeting they may be, that we find any reason to solider on. That's what I get from that brief advert and it's the lasting image that for me personally affirms every holiday season.

That and it's a pretty good cereal...way better than Apple Jacks!

No comments:

Post a Comment