And so it has begun: the annual battle royale more popularly known as the Christmas season. I threw myself into the ring today, knowing that the longer I left the little bit of shopping I really can’t avoid doing, the more violent and destructive it would become. It wasn’t very unmanageable since it was the middle of the day and I have super powers that keep pushy sales people at a respectful distance. But there was madness to be seen in many an eye, a multitude of impatient and huffy faces waiting behind other shoppers who dared to stand on the escalators rather than sprint up them, an abundance of angry glances at phones to check the time and angry-tweet about people being so. damned. slow.
Ugly. Familiar. Only just beginning. There’s still plenty of time for a holiday crescendo of ill will towards man in this great city. One of my first years here, I watched, on Christmas Eve, the hoards with pinched and angry faces streaming through the subway station at Yonge and Bloor; everyone in those crowds failed to notice either that there was a busker playing classic holiday songs on his erhu or that I was grinning like a gormless fool and almost weeping over the beauty of his musical gift offered to a bunch of people too busy to accept it.
We have just three weeks left till we celebrate the glorious birth of JC (and further down the alphabetical line, the glorious birth of JT, better known (by some) as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Coincidence? Of course! There was probably no such person as JC). Three weeks is two fewer weeks than we’re given at the beginning of Love, Actually and at least six fewer weeks than we’re given before Christmas music can be heard in every store, everywhere. It’s a long, angry season, this.
Yesterday, as I stood in line to purchase Toni Morrison’s Sula (I already had two books on the go, but forgot to take either of them to my appointment and so had to get another for the trip home), people both ahead of and behind me sighed impatiently, shuffled their feet in irritation, looked around for someone to come save them and one even left as the sales clerk coolly wrapped the first customer’s presents.
I think we’ve missed the point, and not because of the hyper-commercialization of the season–it is, after all, maybe not such a big jump to go from thinking of Christmas as a season of giving to thinking of it as a season of buying (and buying and buying). Well, the point about commercialization is a good one, of course, one we’ve failed to absorb even though it’s been fully fifty years since Charlie Brown reminded us of it.
But I’m thinking more about what I’ve always thought of as this season’s most compelling feature: its implicit invitation to slow down a little and relax (and eat a lot and bloody well like it). I mean really, isn’t that what carbs and tryptophan are really all about?
In fact, I don’t mind proclaiming it casually from the rooftops (as long as there’s a safety railing): Carb comas are the reason for the season, so let’s try to do our duty to this true fact this holiday season. (Prezzies are okay too, I guess, if they don’t interrupt the eating.)