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Don't Despair Just Because It's Christmas
The holidays make it easy to express oneself, because the split between reality and fantasy in our world is most evident. People rush around, minds fixed on symbolic gestures like gift-giving and dinner-preparations, while doing whatever they can - and they have no shorter of subterfuge - to hide the shortcomings of their lives and society so that, just for a moment, they can have a ceremonial peace of mind. In that, they're both at their least neurotic and their most deluded, so the religious nature of the holiday is brought to the forefront: they're like fanatics in the grips of religious delusion. And we scorn the suicide bombers?
Your coworkers will be thankfully busy kissing ass, which means you don't have to waste time listening to their "opinions" which are essentially recombinations of TV, newspaper, and talk radio ideas. They will however give you worthless stuff they bought at bulk prices, and hope to receive something actually worthwhile in return (the solution: bake them banana bread, especially if you can't do it). Every single person you interact with on a daily goods-service basis will also be angling for a gift. These are even better; give them the worthless crap you got last year. It's not a question of what the gift means, but a question of recognition. In our "free" society, we feel free to guilt each other into handing over something, which primarily profits those who make functionless symbolic gift items, and, of course, the waste management industry, who'll be hauling it away in June.
As if you needed extra giggles, you'll get to witness the entire consumer sales industry mobilized to sell gift items. The guilt is heavy, and it's enforced by an image: people happily at home with loved ones, exchanging gifts, eating and having a good time. The reality is obligation by social pressure to buy, divorces, families fighting on phones, and people giving each other meaningless crap and spending up to 10% of their disposable income doing it. No one wants to hear the reality, and this is why they drown it out with Christmas songs. They've even gotten clever (at least as clever as a gibbon on crack) and have made "unique" versions of each Christmas song, like the techno "Silent Night" and jazz-fusion "I'm Dream of a White Christmas." Get your sickening emotional cues now, because otherwise, you numb consumers, you wouldn't even know you're having a "good time."
Since most of us live in a reality that's far from the television image, and must contend with broken families, failed relationships, and droningly predictable office parties where at some point an idiot "livens things up a bit" by getting drunk and doing something amusingly stupid - or it would be amusing, had it not happened at every Christmas party over the past decade - there's a series of industries dedicated to compensation. The alcohol sellers are warming up to send you out into the night with a case of red'n'green beer. Psychologists crack their knuckles and schedule overtime leading up to Christmas. And if you lack a pithy two-line statement of goodwill, the greeting card people have a new crop of cards with pleasant illustrations on them. Parasites, all.
Don't despair, you say? We live in a crumbling civilization that most are too dumb to recognize, and it continually breeds dumber people and hands over power to them, as that's the type of person who has so little going on in their lives they need to become a bureaucrat. We are surrounded by bad design, from our roads arranged to please developers and not serve the citizen, to our awkward housing designed around profit centers and not pragmatic living. Our lives are manipulated by external emotions designed to please everyone in a room, making us slaves to the weakest link in the chain, and now you've got to put on your plastic holiday smile to cover it. No wonder Christmas is the season for heart attacks, suicides, divorces and drug overdoses.
My solution, as in most cases, is to bypass despair for nihilism. You - or rather, the sense and sensibility of nature - are in control, and you don't have to take it seriously. Do what is required, and nothing else, but most of all, don't take this insincere marketing holiday into your heart. Yule was a real holiday, a winter survival landmark, but Christmas ever since has been a time of humility and submission before the Jewish prophet. Why? Give people at the office crap, and hand out garbage others have given you to those supplicants who desire gifting for their services. Care not about it; summon the nihilism of your heart and see the reality: Christmas is just another day, and a day in which you can do what you want, as long as you aren't fooled by the hype of the crowd. Happy are those who never hear Christmas music at all, but happier are those who hear without hearing, and notice the holiday without heeding. Crush Christmas with your awareness of its meaninglessness. There's no need for despair if you never take it seriously in the first place.
December 24, 2004