Christmas time is here. Happiness and cheer. Fun for all that children call their favorite time of year.
This season has never felt more disconnected from reality, more cheerless, more completely banal and overrun by greed and irreverence by the corporate class than ever before. I think perhaps it has been a long time coming, this feeling I have of disembodiment from the entire holiday as expressed in America.
It began with the surreal experience of Christmas trees and decorations in August in Costco. It soon spread to other stores, more virulent than the Covid seems to be. The Covid was of course the excuse for such blatant merchandising, but my memory is not that short, despite what retailers would have me believe. The stuff came out early the last few years as well. Yet in the last few years, they seemed to have had the ability to hold off their gratification long enough for Halloween to pass before hauling out the muzak in October. This year, I heard Christmas music in a store before Halloween. It made me leave.
This inability to delay gratification has infused every aspect of our culture. It’s the toddlerification of every corner of our lives. It goes beyond pushing Christmas out three months early and is part of the “We just want to keep you safe!” bullshit mantra that has become completely normalized. When you leave a restaurant or store, the salespeople call out, “Stay safe!” because with the Covid, you know, we aren’t safe, and therefore it needs to be shouted at us from every floor, wall, countertop, toilet, and person walking by.
The toddlerification is taken even further by the babysitters out there who want to tattle to the police state about bloody everything, like someone “Wasn’t wearing a mask!” (or that a black person walked by wearing a grey t-shirt so come and kill him now!) A young man I knew was shot by the police in Vancouver, executed with 34 shots by the “officers” who were doing their “duty.” I usually avoid mainstream news like the plague because so much of it is so unimaginative and pandering, I just can’t take it. However, because Kevin had been murdered, I was reading the Oregonlive website, our state’s version of news. I got sucked in and clicked the link to Dear Prudence or whatever her name is (she’s prudent so she can answer questions any 8 year old could figure out). The headline was My Children won’t Vaccinate. Should I Kidnap the Child and Take him to the Doctor Myself? Yes. Everyone knows better than everyone else how to live their lives and they are damn well going to point it out to them, and if they don’t live their lives as the good neighbor thinks they should then the good neighbor will get in there and live it for them (because their life is perfect and they want to make yours perfect too!), so please. Kidnap your grandchild and get his damn shots because you know best (or maybe not since you raised a person who wouldn’t get the vaccinations you so crave?).
NextDoor, that social networking app for your neighborhood, is a veritable trove of babysitters telling everyone else how to live their lives. “I went to the park and so-and-so wasn’t wearing a mask! How DARE they!?!?! (Of course, multiple punctuation marks is de rigueur to emphasize just how upset they are.) Multiple good neighbors will chime in their tsk, tsks. Periodically someone rational will point out that masks alone outside don’t really do anything or that the research actually shows that masks don’t do much of a damn thing and even include a link saying as much and good god, all hell breaks loose on these people. It’s like the zombies found a live body to feed upon.
But sometimes, sometimes I just can’t help myself. I’m only signed up for the “Crime and Safety” emails on NextDoor that are theoretically set up to let us know that someone has been robbing the neighborhood so keep the gates locked, etc. It does happen around here and my daughter has been known to leave her bike out now and then, so I signed up to get an email when someone posts in this section.
Unfortunately though, not everyone who uses NextDoor understands that they are supposed to post in the section to which their topic relates. Either that or they think that posts about murdering the other creatures we share our lives with is Crime and Safety? I don’t know. In any case, periodically there will be a post about how, hands wringing, something else exists so what should be done?!? “There are hornets in the yard. How do I kill them?” “There are gophers in the yard. How do I kill them?” “An ant walked across my counter. How do I kill it?” Then the whole neighborhood chimes in about how to murder the rest of the planet and I just can’t help myself. I have to be that one person who dares to say to leave them alone.
A couple of weeks ago we were suffering torrential rains. The crazy, warm atmosphere caused the skies to pour gallons on us. Someone posted in Crime and Safety that rats were coming on her deck. What should she do about it? The answers were pretty typical. Cruel and brutal, all were some form of murdering of the rats. I love rats and it made me sick so I got sucked in and said to leave them alone, and that they would leave when the rains ended. I’m still getting responses from people letting me know how stupid I am and why these rats should have been murdered. Interestingly, every answer people give applies to humans too, so I like to point that out. Do you see your hypocrisy here, people? Too many dirty people complaining there are too many dirty rats. I’m being the toddler who stirs the pot and I do know it. Really I just avoid the damn thing because it just pisses me off.
I wrote this and then sat on it for a few days because something interrupted me. In the meantime I actually just deactivated myself on NextDoor. I couldn’t take it anymore and I haven’t missed it.
This wasn’t going to be a ranty post about this culture. It was going to be my realization that this Christmas season feels false and surreal. That feeling hasn’t left. I can’t decide if I feel like it’s dreary January 5 weeks after the holiday because the country pushed the “celebration” out three months early, or if my discontent has simply been a long time coming because every year feels like so much less than what I wanted it to for so long. I suspect it’s a combination of both. In either case, I’m not in it. I’m outside of it. Seeing trees on people’s cars just seems sad to me. Death culture kills and uses that death as part of its celebrations. I can hear them now, those who would tell me to focus on the rebirth aspect and the connection with family. But can’t I do that without using a pretend holiday I feel no connection to and which has become a symbol of all I find abhorrent? Perhaps.
I feel like humanity is in a tunnel. We can stay where we are in the middle of this tunnel and keep doing what we have been doing and likely end up destroying ourselves and the planet in the process. Or we can move on and make different choices, ones that aren’t mired in greed, death, and destruction. I feel like we are on a precipice and a large number of people want us to stay here, but they don’t realize that the place on which we perch is a cliff and we could so easily topple off.
So keep up the charade. Go kill a tree. Cover it with trinkets. Play the same songs you have heard 8000 times. Hang lights on your dwelling. Get some paper made from other dead trees. Wrap it around another trinket. Take the paper off the trinket and throw the paper away. Add the trinket to the other pile of trinkets you already have. Keep playing the songs.
Maybe we could just do this all year long. Maybe, except for the tree in the living room, we already do.