Sunday, December 6, 2020

Christmas Lights

There is no doubt I have my doubts about Christmas. It's a holiday I don't get. If you look at it with the completely rational mindset of a child who grew up in an unhappy family and who remembers the holiday as a set battle between angry parents it's little wonder I have never much got into the spirit of the occasion. They look at me with disdain and call me Scrooge when I express my doubts about Christmas.
Key West Christmas
I like Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July, robust straightforward calls for celebration but Christmas is a weird holiday that makes no sense. Don't get me started on the Easter bunny and chickens to celebrate the Resurrection of the Savior  because that mess is beyond the pale, but yule logs and pine trees at Christmas confuse me almost as much. I can't seem to get my focus correct on this very out of kilter holiday:
I like the burst of decorative effects and I am a sucker for goodwill to all men (and women) but I cannot for the life of me understand the ancillary requirements of the holiday. Why pine trees? Christ was born in a manger in Palestine, a desert land with date palms and olive trees. Ice and snow are the decorative accents people strive for at this time of year, though why you might desire electric icicles to adorn your home I cannot fathom. I can't get them in focus considering I like to live frost free, I prefer it in fact.

Father Christmas- that's a complete enigma, a saint they say named for a King of Bohemia. Why? Because he took gifts through the snow to one hungry family one year. Or something like that. 
I raised my puzzlement to my colleagues who took me to task from one end of the dispatch center to the other. It's not a rational holiday they said, sit back and eat chocolate they insisted, enjoy the decorations they ordered.  Which put me in my place. Still that little voice querying the details is still there whispering and wondering. Why is Christmas in winter. Why did they have to adopt the solstice as the time to celebrate and be cold and dark? Christmas in Key West is as close as I have ever got to enjoying Christmas in summer and it is quite enjoyable. Lots of lights and decorations even though we still get almost twelve hours of sunlight a day at this wintery time of year.
It helps when a cold front blows through and you feel the chill in the air and the Nordic themed decorations shine out in the night. So why, if  Christmas took place in the Middle East originally, has been transmogrified into a  festival of pine needles and yule logs and candlelight? I don't think usurping pagan holidays is much of an excuse. I am of the opinion we should move Christmas to June 1st so as not to clash with July 4th (July1st in Canada) and we could celebrate in proper warm desert style. 
It's like the Easter bunny and chickens and eggs at Easter, to someone with my literal mind I get all muddled up wondering who is messing with what. I have no desire to get dressed in Viking skins to celebrate the Solstice so I am left to wonder why Christmas trees? But there they are and very festive they are too whatever they actually symbolize. Lights keeping the solstice at bay? Adapting that concept to away in the manger was some stroke of marketing genius by someone buried in the distant past. I have to give in to the logic of it.
I do have one thing I really dislike profoundly about Christmas and that is the annual Christmas carol massacre. My wife kicks me in the shins every time I mention it but I hate the mangling of the German hymns upon which so many carols are based. It's not just turning on the radio either (or listening on line as we do) but its shopping or even simply buying gas. Through a fog of artificial electronic re-writing you can hear the original melody written hundreds of years ago to celebrate the original simple concept of a Savior, all reduced to a pile of inarticulate wails and bumps. Nothing I can do about it except retreat to the source and listen to the music as written in its purest form and leave the elevator noise to those that don't care. Which is everybody else. 
The other thing I can do is wander the public spaces in shirt sleeves in December and rejoice in all that Key West still has to offer in proper Christmas fashion: help to the needy on a scale most small towns can't imagine, space for the industrious, and a home still to the few remaining eccentrics without prejudice or unkindness. That seems like a lot of good in the face of a lot of my grumpiness.
Lights, colors and  the hope of a better year to come which in itself seems rather a burden for a few over decorated palm trunks after a year like 2020.
My kind of Christmas tree, lit up by the sun and waving in the wind. I sat on my deck in shorts and bare feet and thought how lucky I am not to have frostbite. I can't get all Nordic and go skiing or ice skating or reindeer riding but neither do I want to, ever.