Hello, dear friends and gentle hearts
My mind can’t be free
Please say a prayer for me
All I know is someday there will be no pain
And you stood your ground
But how long can you be beaten down?
But that’s one more broken hand
From punching at the wall
I’ll stare into the sun
Until I can’t see at all
“Dear Friends and Gentle Hearts” by American Steel
I’m proud to be a Green Beret in the Red Army’s War on Christmas. No, I don’t like “Happy Holidays” any more than the average Fox News commentator, but not for the reasons they and the Christian Right don't (that the greeting is Satanic) but because I flatly don’t see the point. “Happy Hanukkah” seems insincere if you’re not Jewish, and “Happy Quanza” seems offensive if you’re not black. As for “Merry Christmas,” I’m not a Christian so the holiday—the “Holy Day”—holds no meaning for me.
I hate how the dominant Christian culture sees any attempt toward inclusivity as a terrorist attack on our American way of life.
I hate the divisiveness of the holidays.
I hate that we prepare our children for lives of religious credulity by warming them up with the omniscience of Santa Claus.
I hate the shrieking din of the holidays: the malls, the post offices, the supermarkets teeming with spoilt American children.
I hate the holidays as capitalist phenomena. Like you, I’m not the slightest bit commercialistic, and I bristle at the blitz and barrage of Yuletide propaganda hurled at us through our televisions, radios and computing machines. Holiday Lexus ads? You have got to be shitting me. Who the hell gets a Lexus for Christmas? If you got a Lexus for Christmas, speak now that I may rebuke you.
I hate It’s A Wonderful Life.
But more than anything, I hate Paul McCartney’s “We’ll be Having a Wonderful Christmas Time.” So long as that song is playing I am most assuredly not having a wonderful time. How was that man ever a Beatle? Imagine if John Lennon was alive. All you need is love, sure, but damn I hate that song. And now it’s in my head. Thanks a lot, Paul.
On the flipside, I actually like a fair bit about this time of year and would like to see certain customs and themes extended year round. “Peace on Earth, good will toward Man”? Loving-kindness and human charity? All very good, so why are they merely seasonal ideals? Are we expected to crave war on Earth and harbor bad will toward man the other eleven months?
Family and friends laughing and drinking around a bountiful table? I’m all for prandial merriment and quaffs of the ol’ “holiday spirits,” and who can deny a fondness for parties and presents? I’m as festive as they come, so let’s have parties every weekend, if not every day. Rummy eggnog and mulled wine would be just as fine in September or March. Rum and eggnog: it just makes sense. I mean, I know I’m not the only one who likes Bacardi omelets, so c’mon Darigold! Keep the eggnog a-flowin’ 7/365.
But the silver bells’ most silvery lining is that the holidays provide a nice excuse for exiled friends to return home to visit. Who could oppose that? This year’s batch is pretty thin, though I have had the joy of seeing a few long-lost loved ones of late. No Craig, Wolf or Abe this year, sadly, but as long as late-December carries with it the prospect of friendly reunions, I can’t bah humbugger it too much.
I rely on my friends perhaps more than many of you, and I rely upon them more than they do me. For years, dear friends and gentle hearts, you have endured my belligerent intransigence with respect to my orientation and mobility (or lack thereof). I adore my lady friends for taking my arm in crowds, as if I was their protector and not the other way around. I love my bros who don’t seem to mind me grabbing the backs of their jackets as we weave between pool tables and bar stools. I love you all with your auditory cues and various other nonchalant tricks and tactics for keeping me on track. Jingling keys, making small talk, whistling a tune, tapping tables, shuffling your feet. And I love your for keeping my feet to fire, like chestnuts.
“Dave, you’re forgetting your stick,”
“Yeah, yeah, okay you’re right. I’ll get it.”
“It’s right here. No, here. Here!”
Each of you is more than I deserve, and I promise to continue to work toward a more heightened sense of independence throughout the New Year. Thank you for your endless loving-kindness: it has never been seasonal. I love you, and I thank you for loving me.
So what the hell: Merry Christmas.