Bah! to the humbugs and the skeptics. To Santa, it is all about the voyage and not the destination. To the mere mortals,on a diet of hope and determination, its about reclaiming a piece of Paradise lost. A battle between belonging and unbelonging. Its whas writer Christopher Hitchens would call getting the ”X” factor back into XMAS. Applying scroogenomics to the holiday spirit in a secular evolution of the Christmas tradition as X-treme sport.
Christmas is a big target and shots across the boughs of dysfunction are abundant; from intemperate spending habits to social excesses.Attaching the sobriquets of charm, funny and sentimental is often a stretch to deeply dyfunctional families, drunkenness and self-loathing, in the hope that something endearingly soppy and loveable can filter down into the child’s imagination; hesitantly tracing, andwendeling a path towards something that bears witness and some resemblance to salvation. Many have proposed that the Holidays are something to be endured, rather than celebrated or enjoyed. To these, as you might expect, its the absurdities of the season that figure most prominently.
T’is the season for disappointment. David Rakoff and a Christmas of assertive un-belonging. Call it Santa under-cover. Rakoff, in his book, ”Fraud” impersonates Freud in the showcase windows of Barney’s Department Store in Manhatten during the Christmas shopping season. These might have been enactments of the famous ”Christmas for Freud and Dora” sessions in front of the Fifth Avenue passersby. Here, the discussion of Dora’s hidden personal desires, its repression and flashes of exposure in the ”fragments” is centered on the psycho-dynamics of Christmas. ”By its unobtrusiveness, the phrase ( Merry Christmas ) blurs the position of the protagonists, positioning them firmly within the German, or rather Christian, culture, whose calendar ‘naturally’, or secularly, commemorates the birth of Christ. Freud and Dora’s parents would have almost certainly belonged to the first generation of Freuds and Bauers to celebrate the festival. Although today we know that Sigmund and his family used to celebrate Christmas (Martin Freud, 1957) – and so apparently did the Bauers (Decker, 1991: 28) – but neither Dora nor Sigmund may have known, or assumed, that the other did. After all, Dora was talking to a respected member of the B’nai B’rith.
Perhaps, there were subtle conversational manoeuvres to establish exactly where on the trajectory between ghetto and assimilation their respective households stood regarding the matter of Christmas. Its a form of Santa of the subconscious. Those irrational desires of possession the shopper may be only vaguely aware of. See it as Santa ,as method actor, touching upon his own world weariness and personal comic depletion. Rakoff, used the window as an office for consultations;” This was not the Humor of Cure; it had nothing to do with the healing power of laughter,” he writes. “It was more of an airless, relentless kind of quippiness — the orchestra on the Titanic playing an upbeat number as they take on water. Every time a complex human emotion threatened to break the surface of my consciousness, out would come terrible cleverness.’ ”
T’is the season for some gloom as well, with Franz Kafka, and melancholy, uncertain and meaningless Christmas, as he habitually struggled with writers block during the Yuletide Season. Call it a dreamlike, somewhat surreal celebration of the Prince of Peace. His Christmas diaries, in their stream of conscious style could be metaphors for his impressions of Saint Nick,” An unfortunate man, on who is condemned to have no children, is terribly imprisoned in his misfortune. Nowhere a hope for revival, for help from luckier stars. he must live his life, afflicted by his misfortune, and when its circle is ended must resign himself to it and not start out again to see whether, on a longer path, under other circumstances of body and time, the misfortune which he has sufferedcould disappear or even produce something good”. ( 1911 ) and on Cristmas, 1914, ”Read a few pages of Herzen’s ”Fogs of London” . had no idea what it was all about, and yet the whole of the unconscious man emerged, purposeful, self tormenting, having himself firmly in hand and then going to pieces again”. (Franz Kafka Diaries )
A few reminders: Saturday, December 26 th is Disinherit a Relative Day. Boxing day is traditionally a good time for family feuds. This year should be no exception. See if you can turn the usual post-prandial squabbles into a full fledged mafia style deal. To raise the stakes, use expressions such as ”I renounce you” and/or ”I can’t believe you are the fruit of my loins”. Certainly beats falling asleep in front of the TV. And of course, Friday, December 25th is Christmas. To mark the occasion, an anonymous donor to this blog is personally offering $1,000,000 to anyone who catches Santa and delivers him to Madame Pickwick alive. Not only that, but in addition to the cash prize, you will go down in history as the person who caught Santa and put an end to Christmas. How do you know you’ve got the real Santa and not some enthusiastic Dad or would be kiddie-fiddler dressed up as Saint Nick? The genuine Santa has a tattoo of Lapland on his left buttock, complete with all the fjords and their individual estuaries.
” I never cease to be amazed by how little the Bible-believing Protestants, who constitute most of the soldiery in the Christmas wars, know about their own tradition. Under the rule of the Puritan Revolution in England, the celebration of Christmas was banned outright. This was for three reasons: The December fiesta was actually the honoring of paganism in disguise, and a descendant of the old rites of the winter solstice. Then, it was also a manifestation of popery and superstition (the “Christ-Mass”). Finally, it was an excuse for the riff-raff to get drunk and disorderly. Only the last part seems to have survived…. I was invited onto Scarborough Country on MSNBC to debate the proposition that reindeer were an ancient symbol of Christianity and thus deserving of First
dment protection, if not indeed of mandatory display at every mall in the land. …the view taken by the host was that coniferous trees were also a symbol of Christianity, and that the Founding Fathers had endorsed this proposition. From his cue cards, he even quoted a few vaguely deistic sentences from Benjamin Franklin and… (Cristopher Hitchens )
Christmas on Mars is a disconcerting Sci-fi feature by Dwayne Coyne, that follows a small band of colonists who have settled on Mars.With Christmas usually associated with a sentimental gaze into the rear-view mirror, ”Mars” may be the Christmas of the future.The lead, Major Syrtis, tries to lift spirits in the colony by arranging a Christmas pageant to celebrate the impending birth of the first baby on the planet. Unfortunately the man Syrtis chooses to portray Santa commits suicide and a vital part of the space station has malfunctioned, and its inhabitants fear that their days are numbered. Syrtis also suffers from a series of hallucinations, mostly involving oversized vaginas. But the sudden appearance of a green-skinned alien, played by Coyne, seems to right the ship. The film is patently Low-fi, but nonetheless surreal enough to plausibly suggest Christmas in the distant future.
James Panero, in an article titled ”Shakespeare’s War on Christmas” , cites a 1912 book of essays by Max Beerbohm entitled Christmas Garland, with the chapter ”Shakespeare and Christmas casting the Bard of Stratford Upon Avon as elite Humbug. Beerbohm termed it Shakespeare’s soul secret, and his dislike, an impotemt-bitter spleen against the prettiest of festivals:
”THAT Shakespeare hated Christmas–hated it with a venom utterly alien to the gentle heart in him–I take to be a proposition that establishes itself automatically. If there is one thing lucid-obvious in the Plays and Sonnets, it is Shakespeare’s unconquerable loathing of Christmas. If you find, in the works of a poet whose instinct is to write about everything under the sun, one obvious theme untouched, or touched hardly at all, then it is at least presumable that there was some good reason for that abstinence. Such a poet was Shakespeare. It was one of the divine frailties of his genius that he must be ever flying off at a tangent from his main theme to unpack his heart in words about some frivolous small irrelevance that had come into his head. If it could be shown that he never mentioned Christmas, we should have proof presumptive that he consciously avoided doing so. But if the fact is that he did mention it now and again, but in grudging fashion, without one spark of illumination–he, the arch-illuminator of all things–then we have proof positive that he detested it.