The parade of ungrateful children passing themselves off as malicious demons of the night (even though they don't wear costumes and just expect a free handout) have returned to pimping their sisters, and the next holiday with its own color scheme is Thanksgiving. Let me sum it up: Thanks to the Native Americans for all the land. Now that we've got that out of the way, it's time for Christmas. Woo hoo!
The first week in November is the time to get out the mistletoe, string the lights, and get yourself a full size injection molded Santa for your roof (illuminated of course). Oh, and to brace yourself for the full force barrage of advertising. It starts out with every variety of Christmas music regardless of your faith-from Bing Crosby's White Christmas to John Denver's new "Christmas Under the Sea." Oh, but it doesn't stop at your ears, my no.
There's the never popular electronic doo-dads that play horribly out of key hymns and blink enough lights to put even the most mild epileptic on their back in a glorious grand mal. Not to mention hundreds of varieties of animatronic dolls who spout computer-generated wisdom to your children (i.e. "Math is hard.") As garnish to overwhelm your senses completely, there are all varieties of decorations to irritate the eyes, ears, and nose-put that poison control center number on speed dial in case little Timmy finishes off a box of scented pine cones with a dozen lines of fake snow.
You may wonder what ever happened to the Rockwellian Christmas? It never existed. The same thing happened then as does now, except without all the marketing. The period pictures might show Mr. and Mrs. Davidson, their plump, rosy cheeked children Timmy, Ophelia, and Bobby the Cripple all gathered around the Christmas tree in their Sunday best, while Nana Eloise cackles in the background knitting Bobby a new cane. What we don't see is Dad burying his arm up Ophelia's skirt, hoisting her over his head to put the star on the tree-her squeals of "joy" echo through the house. And later, after Mr. Davidson's sixth glass of egg nog (with rum) minus the egg nog, he goes upstairs to tuck into the kids, and hurry them on their way to their sugar-plum dreams.
Merry Fuckin' Christmas.
Regardless of whether Rockwell portrayed things accurately or not, everything that makes our modern Christmas modern started long ago. Back in the days when two digits were all you needed to tell what year it was, the Heathens were out in the fields mucking it up with the King of the Waning Year. Bored off their skulls stuck inside for the long, cold winter, they had this notion they should all get together, find the nearest conifer, and burn that bad-boy to the ground while drinking up a storm and otherwise hooting it up in some kind of, well, Heathen ritual.
Well into the age of the Triple Digit Year the Christians, being the type to look down on everyone else (especially the Heathens), thought, "Hey, these guys may be thoroughly misguided in His ways, but maybe we can get them to do what we want. And if not, that burning idea is something we should remember for later. It gets damn cold and I bet those nature-loving bastards stack a fair bit better than a cord of oak and probably burn longer too."
Several years and many dead missionaries later, they go over to the Heathens and say, "Hey Heathens!" The Heathens reply, "Yeah? What in the Stix do ya want?" Christians, not to be taken lightly respond, "We got this guy who's a magnificent Son of God, we read his book, and if you don't worship Him, we'll kill you faster than you can say 'Robin Goodfellow.'" The Heathens, not being born yesterday, took the free tracts, read 'um over, and said, "Jesus, you magnificent Son of a Virgin! I read your book!"
Long after the crackle of the first burning Heathen died away at the beginning of the second millennium, the Christians, spreading like maple syrup across the globe (slow, but sickly sweet), started calling on the Germans. Now the Germans, being Heathens, did another weird little something special: they had this guy who was really old but liked little children.µ He went around and delivered gifts to them in the middle of the night in an attempt to introduce anxiety driven sleep disorders.
The Christians, masters of assimilation, offered up a tract (Read my book. Read my book...) and said, "You've got to ditch Odin, the Frost Giants, and all the others but you can keep Ragnorok and the old gift deliverer. We'll call him Saint Nicholas though and he can put gifts under a Flaming Tree. Otherwise, we'll have to start stacking you up for the coming winter." The Germans, not being stupid, opted for Christianity.
The Germans eventually put their spin on our little tale and ditched the flaming tree in favor of putting candles on it which greatly reduced incidences of house burnings. As we said, they're not stupid.
This is starting to sound pretty familiar, but we're not quite there yet. There's one last group the Christians have to meet-the most horrible, soulless group of all: the Marketers.
The Marketers, originally belched from the depths of Hell, fled Europe in the mid nineteenth century following the Marketing Famine of 1851 after the collapse of the Irish Potato Exchange (IPE). After nearly a century of working their way up the corporate ladder at Moxie, they met the Christians buying Easter clothing on March 12, 1924 in the main lobby of Macy's in New York City.
Recognizing the superior eviltude of the Marketers, the Christians at first didn't offer up their patented tracts. After weeks of Marketers saying, "Why not have your people call my people," a weak Christian-neophyte broke under the pressure and allowed the Marketers to look at their promotional literature.
The Marketers look upon Christianity and it is good.
It is very good. In fact, the Marketers, always beset with diminishing returns in the colder months see the winter changing from the worst season for sales to the best. Kick ass!
So the Marketers adopt the Christians and start making changes. First, this Jesus fellow with his peace and charity just has to go. They bring him out to the desert, pull over to the side of the road, and ask Him if He could be so kind as to walk to the next town and bring back some Slim Jims for the crew. Poor Jesus. He could make fish and wine and bread, but not mechanically separated chicken.
Without Jesus, where are the Christians to turn? To avoid making too drastic a change, the Marketers decided the Christians should make hefty donations to the Marketers' religion: Capitalism. The Christians, accustomed to paying through the nose to God every Sunday are pretty happy they can get stuff from the Marketers that's more tangible than some silly miracle or splinters of the true cross.
After centuries of refinement, the Marketers, wildly greedy by nature, are now able to utilize a method of osmotic capital flow where the Christians pour in money, the money is broken down into atomic barter, thereby reducing the amount of cash and maintaining the flow rate. Using that technique, the Marketers continue to take money from the Christians and the Christians keep giving it to them.
One interesting thing about the Christians is they won't pay more for something better, but they will pay the same for worse. The Marketers just love this. They go crazy inventing useless products, making false claims, and taking wheelbarrows of cash to the bank. In the mean time, the Christians are overjoyed to buy the digitally remastered dance remix version of Bing Crosby's White Christmas, all the time forgetting exactly who that towheaded kid out with the beasts of burden is.