12/11/2012 | Share this article:By Klym ~
While I like Andy William's classic song, which I perverted for the title of this article, I always dread this time of year for many reasons. For one, I can't get through a day here in the Bible belt without hearing someone talk about God and how wonderful he is during the other eleven months of the year! But in December, it's like a full blown epidemic of having to be exposed to all kinds of crap in the name of Christianity. Everywhere I look and everywhere I go, I have to steel myself against this cultural phenomenon of greed in the name of Bible God. How did a pagan tradition turn into a celebration of the birth of Jesus anyway? It's cognitive dissonance of the worst kind. I wish somehow I could vaccinate myself against this onslaught of forced gaiety and joy in the name of a god that most of the rest of the world never even heard of. Aren't they the lucky ones?
Also, my mother killed herself in December right before Christmas twenty years ago. Yep, she decided, in her neurochemically unbalanced mind, that she would rather shoot herself in the head with a gun than suffer through another Christmas without the love of her life--my dad---who had dropped dead the year before on her 73rd birthday---of a heart attack. While I have suffered bouts of depression myself, I've never had suicidal thoughts. But, I can certainly understand why so many people kill themselves during the holidays.
Yesterday my best friend and I went shopping and she lamented to me that she is just not in the "mood" for Christmas and feels sad for no real reason. I told her that I've hated Xmas for years, as she already knew, and that the expectations that our culture puts on us at this time of year are blown way out of proportion. Nobody can live up to the hype--so why even try? She knows that I'm an ex-christian while she's still a christian, albeit an extremely liberal one, or else how could she be my friend, right? In years past, she encouraged me to let go of the grief that I feel at this time of year---she told me that Xmas is a time for new beginnings, and that my mom would want me to be happy. I told her that my mother, of all people, would most understand why Xmas is so hard for me. My friend finally gave up on trying to get me to celebrate Xmas. I don't buy gifts, I rarely decorate, and my husband and I take a mini-vacation every year around Dec. 25th. It's what works for me, and I don't give a rat's patooty what other people think about my way of getting through the holidays.
Christmas will never be the same for me---how could it be? Let's get real. At the time of my mom's death, some well-meaning Xtian friends told me that mama is now with the angels. Mmmm, I thought, the same angels who watched her put a gun to her head and allowed her to kill herself?? Picture this: Her guardian angel takes a break---goes outside to smoke a cigarette, perhaps--comes back, and OOPS--my mama done finished herself off. Wonder how that report to god went? Bet that angel didn't earn her wings that day! Hence, the final nail in the coffin of my lifelong precarious belief in a supernatural deity who cares about us. If he existed, couldn't he have just let mama die quietly and non-violently in her sleep?
As regulars here at ExC know, I'm a school counselor, so I have the privilege of helping children navigate these days before Xmas. Most of my students live at or below the poverty level. What is joyous about Christmas for them? Many of them go to bed hungry every night---will Jesus or Santa "fix" that for them? That's highly unlikely. I have come to dislike Santa almost as much as I dislike Christianity---why give kids false hope once a year that their wishes for a better life will come true? Is is not better to give them the life skills and education needed to lift themselves out of their present circumstances? To once and for all end the cycle of poverty in America? I think that's better than giving them false hope in a mythical Santa or an afterlife with Jesus. Let's do something NOW, for Santa's/God's sake, instead of teaching them that poor Baby Jesus died so they could have eternal life!
What is joyous about Christmas for them? Many of them go to bed hungry every night---will Jesus or Santa "fix" that for them? That's highly unlikely. I have come to dislike Santa almost as much as I dislike Christianity---why give kids false hope once a year that their wishes for a better life will come true?Wouldn't it be better to make it a year round cultural phenomenon to feed the hungry, clothe the poor, shelter the homeless, and accept the outcast in the name of HUMANITY instead of the name of a man who thought he was god and is most likely a myth? And who also said, "The poor will always be with us." Oh, yes, I know "churches" claim they do this all year---and some really good ones do--but they do so conditionally. Believe in my saviour, and I will help you....reminds me of a homeless man I saw years ago on TV news. He said he liked getting free meals at the church, but that he felt like he got them "under DOO-RESS"---duress, he meant. But he pronounced it DOO'RESS'...accent equally on both syllables...I feel ya, bruthuh!
So, please spare me the sermons, lights, and decorations, and let's get busy doing something year round that will make a positive difference in the world. Don't cram Merry Christmas down the world's throat once a year and claim that Jesus will bring peace on earth someday.... If he exists and he has the power to do that, what's he waiting for? I, for one, can't wait till December 26th to recover from the madness of this most miserable time of the year.