This year, as we careen towards Christmas like an out of control 18-wheeler, I’ve decided to take my hand off the wheel, lean back with a smile and enjoy the rush of impending doom with a gleam in my eye and a trigger finger on the RECORD button. My foot is off the brakes, kiddies. This puppy is gonna hit and there ain’t nothin’ I can do to stop it.
Knowing that a head on collision with Christmas is in my immediate future I’m choosing to behave in a manner most unexpected of me by friends and family. Instead of shitting on the holiday I’m going to hand it a lollipop and grin at it with unabashed glee as it sucks (and sucks and sucks) and swallows and then, eventually, gives me a sticky pawed high five and trots off on it’s merry way. Ho ho, ho.
This year I’m inviting people over for food. This year I went out of my way to cut out a cardboard tree from an old box and throw some stuff on it. This year I’ve sent presents to family. This year I went to Glide Church and basked in the goodness of some fellow humanitarians. This year I realized that I am, curiously, an actual humanitarian. This year I’m digging deep and finding my jollies. I’m getting my ham on. I’m warming the oven. I’m opening the doors. This year there will be no changing the lyrics of Christmas carols (although ‘Round John Virgin, margarine child; Holy imbecile, tender and mild; Sleep in heavenly peas, slee-eep in heav-en-ly peas’ still makes me feel so lovely and bad). This year there will be Naked Christmas Morning (a new tradition) followed by a gathering of friends for food and laughter. There will be no bah-humbugs, no ‘mehs’, no drunken snarling at the tinsel on the lamp posts. I give up. I give in. I’m happy. It’s nice.
It wasn’t always this easy to give in.
For many years Christmas has embodied all the things I’ve hated with the world. Rampant spending, thoughtless waste and ugly greed in the face of other people’s hunger, despair and despondency. The terrifying amount of discarded packaging and plastic wrappers blowing in the breeze, dying Christmas trees thrown on the sidewalk, electric light-up Joseph’s and Mary’s on the over-watered, under-used front lawns of the sprawling suburbs. The stuff that makes me shudder, the things that slip into my day-mares and drive me quietly mad.
Two years ago, in 2006, I spent Christmas in Orange County. I wasn’t impressed. Then, in 2007, I forgot and did it again. What follows are poetic accounts of both of those Christmases: little ditties I wrote and posted online in an effort to exorcise some of my loathing of the festivities around me, and perhaps, just a little bit, to infect others. Sharing, after all, is caring.
My first poem recalls the true story of the time my boyfriend and I stole an electric light/baby Jesus from someone’s front yard. It’s called-
Stealing Jesus (2007)
T’was two weeks before Christmas, and all through the land,
Pretty lights had been strung up to make life less bland.
And inside the houses all the people were sleeping,
Unaware that two weirdos down their street were a’creeping.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of consumerism danced in their heads.
And outside in the cold and the dark and the night,
A car stopped in the road and turned off its lights.
A woman emerged as the engine kept running
And crept into a yard with obvious cunning.
She stood there a moment, surveying the scene,
With a grin on her face that was not so serene.
There, in the garden, prayed a family of plastic,
Our criminal knew she must do something drastic.
She looked at the parents, the slumbering child,
She looked back at the car, felt evil, and smiled.
She bent down in the dark and scooped up the prize
Then dashed to the car with panicking eyes,
GO! She screamed at her driver, her partner in crime,
GET OUT OF HERE MAN! WE DON’T HAVE MUCH TIME!
QUICK. FUCK. She yelled loudly. GET US OUT OF HERE!
The driver, still laughing, lurched the car into gear,
HIDE THAT BABY! He cried. GET IT OUT OF MY FACE!!!
AT LEAST ‘TIL WE’RE SURE THAT THEY AREN’T GIVING CHASE!
The car screeched it’s tires and flew out of the hood.
While the plastic baby Jesus slumbered on (as he should).
The kidnappers were proud that they’d been so bold
For what asshole leaves a baby sleeping out in the cold??
My second poem is a furious rant at all of humanity and is entitled:
Pick Up Your Shit, You Consumerist Pigs (2006)
T’was the week after Christmas and all over the place
Were the detritus of gifts, discarded- a disgrace.
The children were sleeping, all warm in their beds,
While visions of Playstations danced in their heads;
And my wife in her Gucci, and I in my silk,
Had just settled down for a glass of spiked milk,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
So I sprang from the chaise to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
I tore open the shutters and looked out at the trash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the luster of mid-day to the crap left below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a big, empty sleigh, and eight steaming reindeer,
I heard a deep voice say “What the fuck is this shit?”,
And I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick!!!
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each heavy hoof.
I drew in my hand, and was just turning ’round,
When down the chimney Santa came with a bound.
He was dressed all in red, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
His eyes — how they twinkled! His dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he moved, like a bowlful of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
But a glint in his eye and a tilt to his head,
Soon made me know I had something to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And destroyed all our gifts; then turned with a jerk,
He frowned with disgust and he wrinkled his nose,
Then, giving a snort, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
And I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
“You’re a curse to this planet, an eyesore, a blight.
Pick up your rubbish you fat, lazy creeps,
Don’t leave it outside in disordered heaps.
I’ve watched you for decades and I’ve had enough,
All you ever want is more and more stuff.
You ask me for this and you beg me for that,
And it’s never been something I made tit-for-tat.
But now I am changing the program, my friends,
And whether or not you get Christmas depends,
On if you can learn to respect your domain,
And stop flushing this world down the proverbial drain.
It’s easy, you humans, it’s just not that hard,
To look at your surroundings and have some regard,
For keeping it beautiful and natural, even,
And then maybe I’ll have something to believe in.
If you can see fit to all band together,
And keep Earth pretty no matter whether,
You pay your taxes and work really long hours,
Or if you think that you’d need superpowers,
To make a big difference these days on this planet,
It’s not true I tell you, even I can see, dammit,
That you’re killing this place for you and your kids,
You may not see it, but you’ve hit the skids.
So be more conscientious.
And a bit less pretentious.
And I might see fit to be here next year,
But only if you help me spread some REAL cheer.”
With that he was gone and I watched him disappear,
And I turned to my wife and said “OMG! Santa was here!”
She just told me to shut up and pass the remote,
While she smeared some more creme on her wrinkly old throat.
The next morning as I got into my Hummer,
I looked at the sidewalks and sighed “What a bummer.
This trash blowing everywhere is so disgusting.
Don’t I pay the council to do the street dusting?”
And I drove to the mall to replace all the gifts,
That Santa had broken, that nasty old shit.
And when I returned my kids were excited,
To see that their Christmas gifts had been righted.
I went to the window and looked to the sky,
“Oh Santa”, I said. “You’re a kooky old guy.
You asked me to do something I’ll never do,
But I got some more shopping done, so really… thank you.”
And with that I bid you all a happy Christmas.
Don’t forget to recycle! Compost your old ham! Reuse your wrapping paper! Give to the needy! Return your stolen, plastic, light-up babies! You know the drill.