People say Im a Grinch. That Im a Scrooge with a bad attitude when it comes to Christmas. And maybe theyre right. Or maybe, just maybe, Ive thought things through a bit more carefully than other people and come up with some very disturbing suspicions about this holiday.
Many of these revolve around that ever popular holiday totemSanta Claus. He is invariably portrayed as a jolly, generous and hirsute old guy who brings good cheer and gifts to young and old alike.
Thats the image. Whats the reality?
Check out these song lyrics that are often used to describe Claus preparations for his seasonal visitations. "He knows when youve been sleeping. He knows when youre awake..."
Who, I ask, knows when others are sleeping and when they are awake? Who does this kind of snooping? If you got a telephone call tonight from a stranger who said: "I know when youre sleeping, I know when youre awake," would you be happy for the attention, or would you go out and purchase a Glock and a rottweiler.?
And supposing this kind of curiosity is primarily directed at children, which seems the point of much contemporary Santa admiration. You find out some old guy with a beard is looking through the fence of your childs school, checking out whether he or she is "naughty or nice." And you might wonder: naughty or nice in exactly what sort of ways? I dont know about other people, but Id watch endless reruns of "The Batchlorette" before Id let a kid of mine sit on this guys lap.
Weve heard from many sources that Santa runs some kind of "toy workshop" at the North Pole. A charming image, that. Happy elves merrily making toys for tots in a warm cabin set amid endless tufts of pure white snow.
Well, try peddling that image to Alexandr Solzhenitsyn. He was employed for a number of years in an Arctic labor setting. His chronicles of the experience did not make it seem all that jolly.
But theyre only elves, you say. Yes, theyre only elves. Thats how it starts. Only elves. Then dwarfs. Then a few orcs thrown in as part of a well-intentioned rehabilitation program. Weve all seen this one before, havent we?
Mrs. Claus? God forbid you should even consider someone like her as a nanny. Even if you could get away with not paying the Social Security. This is a women who is penned up for 365 days a year, without even one night out on a sleigh, in a poorly ventilated cabin with an overweight pervert, a herd of stinking reindeer, and dozens of hyper-active little creatures wearing modified dunce caps and pointy shoes.
One hesitates to pass judgment without a face-to-face encounter and appropriate psychological testing. But if this old girl were headed in my direction, and she was carrying a set of knitting needles, I would exit the area with considerable haste.
Let me make something very clear. I have nothing against the religious aspects of the Christmas holiday, and I certainly respect the way it encourages excess spending on intrinsically useless objects in ways that impoverish consumers while boosting the profits of credit card issuing banks. My beef is with the fetish-folk who have somehow gotten themselves conflated with this holiday.
Yes, Christmas is worth saving. But Santa and company have got to go!
© Michael Silverstein