Yesterday was Festivus. Today is Christmas Eve. Tomorrow is Christmas. Three days, two traditions, one process.
Festivus is the missing ingredient we didn’t know was missing, cutting through the fat of the holidays, straight into the meat and bone of our pretence. It enables people to air their grievances, wrestle each other in the presence of loved ones and reject consumerism/materialism. It’s rude, crude, and cathartic, as opposed to Christmas, which pretends not to be.
The Christmas celebrations aim at a high amount of decorum and charm, all intentions to the good, and it deserves some merit. Sometimes it works, the holidays run smoothly up to the end, people coming together smoothly, with grievances codified and deflected, tensions expertly dissipated. People enjoy themselves and each other’s company. Sweets and alcohol help, of course. So does dining together, singing together, and bringing a good attitude to the event: things people could be doing every day, during their normal lives, or maybe slightly less often than that, say once a week, or once a month, during which time we could come together to eat, sing, play, laugh, and make merry, maybe even exchange token gifts, keeping the run going all year long.
If we lived righteously and harmoniously and in communion with each other all year long, happy and openhearted, able to engage with each other, what use would the festivities serve?
But then Christmas wouldn’t be so special, would it? If we lived righteously and harmoniously and in communion with each other all year long, happy and openhearted, able to engage with each other, what use would the festivities serve? Better live a life of everyday humbug-ness so that once a year, during Christmas, or Hanukkah, or any such holidays, we can feel extra-good about coming together.
Then again, how about the opposite? How about a life of festivity with a moment of humbug-ness? It would be more appropriate, and less toxic on aggregate.
Truth be told, I’m not what you call a festive personality. Somber is more like it, sprinkled with spurts of merrymaking and bouts of je m’en fou.
So I’m not a good example for the festive period, nor can I lead by one. My point of view is skewed and suspect.
But neither can the rest of the world – lead by example – as things stand. Everyone’s invested head-and-shoulders in the false joy borne out of saying goodbye to a year’s worth of grind and disconnection, come what may, and let the toxicity start all over again come the end of the festivities, just so we can build up to another great party at the end of the cycle.
So you end up with Christmas etc for the ‘normal’ (those who do it the way it’s always been done) and Festivus for the ‘abnormal’ (those who see merit in living a life of festivity checked by a day of humbug-ness).
Having said that, here’s what I came up with for this year’s festivities…
The Plan (A Feat Of Weird):
- Celebrate Festivus online throughout the season, performing feats of strength by trawling through a ton of research for work, occasioned by breaks that involve the airing grievances on the web about everyone, everything and anything under the sun, moon, and stars.
- Tomorrow is Christmas, and I’m going full on Festivus-Humbug during the day, on and offline (maybe you care, maybe you don’t, but I don’t give a shit either way — Festivus!) during which time I’ll contemplate the inanity of people’s merry atonement for an entire year’s un-merriment (Humbug!).
- I’m doing Christmas dinner with family, celebrating the as-of-late rare chance of getting together with them and just chilling.
- On Boxing Day it’s back to online Festivus mode incl. work and grievances and feats of strength, gazing out to a new year of doing pretty much what everyone does, day in, day out. (Or maybe I’ll be more merry and appreciative all year round — as much as I can anyway — to keep a little of that magic throughout.)
- Or maybe I won’t, because I’m a realist.
The main reason Christmas is important to me — and why I have kept my Festivus strictly on the web — are children
The main reason Christmas is important to me — and why I’ve kept my Festivus approach chiefly on the web — are children. They deserve to experience the magic of the festivities. The celebration was designed for and around them. They shouldn’t be subjected to the raw version of cathartic festivity. We need a world where Christmas exists, short as it may fall from its potential, so that the young among us may enjoy themselves.
In fact, children deserve to know that they can recreate the magic of the festive season every day of their lives, should they so choose.
With that in mind, I wish you a fulfilling whatever it is you celebrate, and remember: Chistmas/Hannukah/etc is for the children, its magic designed to teach them that the world will be magical, if they look at it that way.
Remind them of it, subtly, both during the holidays and well after they’re over. Don’t turn them into normal human beings, or they’ll end up abnormal and cantankerous, celebrating Festivus on the 23rd of December, having scanty meals and airing grievances and decorating aluminum poles – or, worse yet, they may end up perfectly normal, merrymaking once a year and humbugging their way through the rest of their days, all the way to the end.
Merry Christmas / Happy Hannukah / Enjoy the holidays everyone!
PS – A Festivus video for the uninitiated…