Peace on Earth, Good Will to All
"So this is Christmas,
and what have you done?"~John Lennon
And so we come full circle on the seasons.
I was having a truly awful time trying to scrape up one scrap of Christmas spirit and good cheer. Mme is frantic because our home doesn't look like the one in Martha Stewart Living (although she denies it, she and her sister share more, at heart, than she seems to believe). We blew off Christmas cards and letters this year, mostly intentionally, so I feel like $#17 about that. Shopping? Are you kidding? Not only have I been pretty much full time in production for the past month (a musical--minor part with some dialogue), but I have had absolutely no inspiration.
What do I really want to do for Christmas? I want to take every penny I spend on gimcrackery (and Christmas crackery) and stuff it into the poor box, or give it to UNICEF or www.spreadthenet.org (to which you should all donate $10 before you sit down to eat your ham, turkey, or roast peasant). I want to scoop out mashed potatoes at a soup kitchen, I want to pass out blankets to the frozen homeless ...
Only I don't, you see. Because if I really wanted to, I'd be doing that.
I want to have a decent party, surrounded by friends and flowing with wine, food, and good cheer. Our Christmas dinner this year consists of five people. Well, four people and Raincoaster anyway. It's the smallest we've had, ever. I want to share the joy and cheer of the season with my peeps.
Only if I did, you'd think I'd have made more effort to get more of them here, wouldn't you?
I've been utterly starved of that magical excitement. Everything seems to have boiled down to more housework, less certainty about my job, and even more money flowing down the invisible money hole at a time when we need every penny we can scrape up.
And yet ... Yet ...
Money? $#17, we're both working, and Mme is making considerably more than I do--we're not hungry, nor hurting. We save small amounts between servicing our debt, which is slightly lower than what I heard was the average for a household containing two married people. Our extended families are generally well and wealthy. And our parents (all three of them) are in good health as yet.
Our own health is, blessedly, good (and if you don't think an atheist can feel blessed then you're misprisioned). Mme just finished the final round of toothwork, completing a job we began four years ago.
Careers? I'm writing for a living--something I couldn't even have imagined four or five years ago. And I'm making just little enough that I feel I can ask for a raise even under current economic conditions. This is Canada: They have to have a reason to fire me or lay me off, and I intend not to give 'em one. Meanwhile, Mme is making enough to keep us afloat did I decide to try underwater basket-weaving as a career. Though honestly, if my workplace let me go, I'd begin by trying my hand at poker.
Most importantly, in spite of the worst storms we've handled, it continues to be me and Mme Metro against the world. We share (sometimes are) each others' greatest burdens, and triumphs. We achieve as a team things we might never have pulled off as individuals.
It is in full knowledge that I tell you, O Avid Fan, and all my friends, that every good thing, every smart decision, and all that is positive and beneficial in my life starts from Mme. And by this and by her above all I am truly blessed.
Last night we had seven guests over. It wasn't, perhaps, everyone's idea of a Christmas party. No mince pies, few carols, and no gift exchange. Instead: a hundred bucks' worth of pizza and a bloodthirsty game of Monopoly (What other kind can there be? It's a very capitalist game). It began to feel a bit like Christmas.
And both Mme and I began to feel fairly Christmassy.
Let me leave you with a snippet of one of my all-time favourite Christmas poems, which was running through my mind as the glooms slowly drifted away:
And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow,Maybe it's not about who we are, or what we are, so much as what we aspire to. Trite, I know, but I'm starting to get into the seasonal mood, and it's only trite if you're not sincere.
Stood puzzling and puzzling: "How could it be so?
It came without ribbons! It came without tags!
"It came without packages, boxes or bags!"
And he puzzled and puzz'd, `till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before!
"Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store.
"Maybe Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!"
If you prefer a more traditional sentiment, here's one of my favourite monologues on the subject.
The most important words are to be found at 1:02
May you experience the blessings of the season, in whatever form they take for you.