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Eggnogg and milquetoast

2003-11-25 - 12:49 p.m.


Last week, on the 17th of November, (meaning not even a full month before Christmas), I ran an errand at Kmart over my lunch hour and was bombarded with the glare of sparkling white Christmas trees and a cacophony of those creepy, tinny-voiced snowmen decorations that sing and nod their heads up and down. (It�s what Heather Havrilesky on Rabbit Blog, calls the �unsightly premature Christmas ejaculate.�) It nearly knocked me over. I felt the need to flee.

Something is changing inside me.

I�ve long been disturbed by the materialism and blatant Screw-You-if-You�re-Not-a- Christian! spirit of Christmas in America. But this year, it�s much worse: I don�t even want to do the few holiday-ish things I usually do, like send Christmas cards and�. um� buy presents for other people.

When I got blasted in the face with the Big K Christmas display, all I could think of was �Jesus,already?

I think it�s because, as I reported once before, Tornado Ali is working very hard to become less of a milquetoast, and Xmas in America can make a person become very milquetoast-y.

For example, I decided this fall that I would bring up the idea of scaling things down a bit, present-wise, with my family this year. Well, the clock�s still ticking on that one and I haven�t said a word. (For some reason I can�t think of a non-selfish-sounding way to say: �Hey, love ya and all, but would it be ok if I only gave you one present this year instead of four or five? Because the more I concentrate on buying things for you, the less I�m concentrating on my own wants and needs. Um, ok? Merry Christmas.�)

And now that I�ve somehow acquired that adult time-perception problem that causes me to think something that happened back in 2000 or 1999 was �about a year ago,� I just cannot handle the idea of doing this every 11 and 1/2 months for the rest of my life: racking my brain trying to think of new gift ideas, or, almost worse, going out to buy the exact things my family has asked for, all the while getting bogged down by the societal pressure that tells me I�m just not spending enough. Eventually I find myself buying things like an electric nose hair remover for my dad, because those three $30 books I bought him just don�t seem like enough items to open!

But it�s more than that, too. For most of the calendar year, I don�t really have to face the fact that I no longer believe what I was brought up to believe. But on Christmas�especially as I continue to distance myself from my family�s religion, and have entered into a Read My Lips, No More Milquetoast policy�I wonder how I can stand with my family in church and sing �Silent Night� when I don�t really believe there was a virgin birth, let alone give presents and celebrate the holiday at all.

And then there�s the business with the cards. I have always seen Christmas cards as a great way to reach out to the people I�ve been too lazy to call or write to in the past year, people I spent lots of time around in high school or college but who, for various reasons, I don�t really talk to that much anymore.

The idea of staying connected to these people I don�t really talk to in between holidays used to comfort me, but now it scares me: there are too many people on that list. I don�t like the thought of what it will become over the years: former friends sending me yearly reports about speed boats and their kids� soccer scores, never noticing that I�m not sending such reports to them.

I know it will happen, because it�s already begun. There�s a girl from high school who I stupidly gave my address to once at a baby shower, and now I�m stuck on her Set in Stone for All Time Christmas Card List, even though I have never sent her a card in the three years she�s sent me photocopied �Christmas letters� about how much she�s enjoying aerobics class.

Ah, Xmas. Bringing out the best in us all.

P.S. I�ll take a bunch of CD�s, books, and a new set of cookie sheets. Thanks.

Only 4 times a twelvemonth? This poses a foundation-shaking question: will Tampax and Always go under?

This story doesn�t bother explaining why KKK initiation requires being noosed and shot at with paint ball guns. Fun! Sounds like a real nice organization.

Law and Order, Special Musical Unit: If I ever end up in court, I think I�ll try to sing my way out of a conviction.




A few years ago my uncle gave me a very cool book called �Screaming Life,� which was a compilation of �grunge-era� photographer Charles Peterson�s work. Apparently Peterson has a new one coming out. Here is an interview with Peterson, Kim Thayil, Mark Arm, and Eddie Vedder, in which the latter gets teased for wanting to be more photogenic.


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