During this season of forced fellowshipping and guilt/inadequacy-driven consumerism, I’ve traditionally been inclined to say FUCK CHRISTMAS. Fuck it right off. If there was a Christmas carol called “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus (Before Daddy Shot Santa in the Face and Threw Him Into A Snowbank)”, it would’ve been my favorite. In years past I’d go out of my way to make it known that I didn’t merely dislike Christmas, but was squarely against it. I wholeheartedly identified with the Grinch but thought that he was a pussy for selling out in the end. I wasn’t pleasant and didn’t hide it.
Looking back, there were plenty of reasons for that. Family and personal turmoil can turn what should be a beautiful time of year into a crushing hell. Having worked in retail for many years, I can say with 100% accuracy that pulling shifts in any store at this time of year is as close to torture as you’ll get without getting your nutsack electrocuted. Seeing the adveropiated masses blowing their heads off in the malls is enough to inject a heroic dose of misanthropy into even the most gracious among us. Christmas was supposed to be a “happy” and “celebratory” time of year. For me and for many others, it rarely was.
Things change. I find that I want less to push against as I get older. Not that I’ll ever stop pushing, mind you, but I want to allow for growth. I’d like to allow that long-standing opinions regarding Christmas, while comforting in a proud-to-be-stubborn kind of way, may be at odds with what I really want: To enjoy the season. To get excited about something that I haven’t done in years, like skating at the park or sledding at Rundle hill. To admire and enjoy the gorgeous light assembly at the legislature grounds – a display that one must walk through to truly appreciate. To not bitch incessantly about the weather or the crowds or gas prices or the idiots downstairs or the this or the that. To just chill out and enjoy the fuckin’ season for a change.
I’m on my way to enjoying the season. This past weekend, I did something that I had never done before. I trudged through the woods with my Justine and her trusty canine, and for the first time ever, I cut down a Christmas tree with my own two hands. This is gonna sound lame and stupid, but I felt all buffed with manly pride after that. I slung the bastard over my shoulder and hauled ‘er out with primal pride and good-deed type feelings. Well, mostly good feelings. A small twinge of guilt reared when I really thought about the fact that I had just killed a tree for my own enjoyment. But hell, I do that every time I enjoy a campfire or write something down in my notepad. Still. Sorry ‘bout that ‘lil forest.
There were no Griswold-esque events, but I gotta confess that it was a great time. Seriously. Trudging through the woods with an 18” hand saw and choosing just the right tree produced a pretty cool feeling: I was having fun without really trying. We got the sucker home and, a few stray needles aside, placed it in its stand. The smell. Oh, the smell. Nothing beats that pine smell. It filled the whole place. She’s a beaut of a Xmas tree. I was smiling even as I tried to wash that sharp-tasting pitch from my hands.
Christmas. Learning to tolerate it, one tradition at a time.
StreetRag ::: An Urban Notebook
StreetRag is an urban weblog and podcast about the city of Edmonton, which is located in the province of Alberta, Canada. It is authored by Edmonton-based writer, web advocate, and poet Michael Gravel and is updated frequently with written urban vignettes, amateurish photographs, deuteronomous audio material, barely coherent musings and rambling ecumenical treatises. StreetRag is a love letter to a lonely prairie burg struggling with its big city ambitions and small-town feel.
The city is Edmonton. It's a subject, not a passion. E-Town is almost universally derided by outsiders as an unlivable tundra wasteland populated by oil-hungry redneck conservatives who despise the arts. All of that is true. But it's not the whole story. There is beauty here. Dusty snowfalls. Brilliant summers. A stunning river valley. A diverse arts community that flourishes. It's a place that inspires a gray relationship - not all good, not all shitty. For that reason alone it is lovable, for what is life but a grayscale?