Monday, December 22, 2014

December the Twenty-fifth.

I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed Christmas. I know it’s been decades since I looked forward to it. I know that the last ten years or so I’ve dreaded it beginning in July or so. To me, Christmas is a very sad and very depressing time of the year. I rather it come once every five years or so and that would be quite enough. If I ever get up enough money I’m going to take a vacation far, far, away from Christmas when it rolls around every year. Maybe Israel would do. There has to be a safe haven for those of us who simply hate Christmas.

Back when I worked as a loan agent for one of those small time title loan operations Christmas was their biggest event. It didn’t matter how deeply people were driven into debt as long as they got the latest and greatest new toy for their kids. It might mean working two shifts and paying fifty percent interest on a loan, but that’s what parenting is all about; buying stuff for one day a year that will last a week and paying for it for six months. I saw people with looks of despair in their eyes because they knew, really knew, they were cutting their own throats to buy presents but Christmas comes but once a year, right?

Divorced parents were the very worst of customers and the very best of customers. We made more money off of a divorce than the lawyers did. There was no way in hell one parent or the other was going to let the opposition out spend them on the kids this year. We loaned money to both sides of the conflict and made double what we had out there. Sure, there was a limit on the percentage we could charge them in interest but there was no limit on the number of fees we tacked onto each loan. The late charges are what really made the most money. January was a time of starvation and deprivation except in our business where we knew which people were going to default before they did.

By February I was knocking on door and reminding people that they had put their car up as collateral and that we were going to take it away if they didn’t pay. In some yards there were wrecked heaps of cheap plastic toys forgotten once the new wore off and the kids were bored with trying to entertain themselves while both parents were working two jobs.

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!

Every year since I can remember Christmas has been an ordeal of one sort or another. It’s been basically some sort of weird period of time where people socialize until they are traumatized. People who work with the public dread this time of year. People who work in traffic would rather be beat with a stick than have to deal with the people out and about at Christmas. It’s frantic and frenetic. Black Friday has turned into Black Thursday with Thanksgiving sacrificed on the altar of consumerism in more and more businesses.

One Holiday to rule them all and in the darkness blind them.

Dog knows I have tried. Every year for the last few years I’ve worn a Santa Hat and I’ve tried to be lured into the Spirit of Christmas even though I knew that people who look happy aren’t always. But this year I just couldn’t. I couldn’t be a part of the rabid sense of shop till you drop and eat till you pop. It’s the 22nd of December, 2014, and I just can’t. I can’t be a part of something that has gone so horribly wrong for so terribly long.

Maybe it’s just me. It seems to be just me. Everyone else seems hell bent on having Christmas just like they always have and just like they always do. But no one seems particularly happy about the thing as a whole. There seems to be some sort of obligation to do things and go places and just keep buying. Those of us who simply do not have a lot of spare cash lying around are like those people at Halloween without any candy and without a costume.

We’re teaching kids the wrong things with Christmas. We tell them if they have to be good or they won’t get rewarded on Christmas but eventually they’re going to figure out there are some fairly bad kids out there making out like bandits. They’ll grow up thinking getting rewards means you’re good, even when they’re good they aren’t getting rewards like those who are bad. What does this truly teach them? Are we teaching them that poor people are bad?

Eventually, all kids discover that it’s a lie. We try to make them believe that lying is bad but because we’re all get such a kick out of watching children believe that lie, along with the behavior modification thing, it’s perfectly fine to lie. So Christmas becomes a time where being good means not being poor and it’s fun to tell lies to those too gullible not to believe in them.

Can you tell I’m really stressed out about Christmas right now?

I’ve already eaten more in the last month than is good for me in the space of twice that long. Usually, I’m pretty careful about that sort of thing but gluttony has broken out in a big way. Eating is our way of being social with one another when we’re wondering what the hell to talk about with people we only see when we’re eating to keep from having to find enough in common to have a decent conversation.

Drinking is something I’m going to avoid for a little while now. I drank some wine Saturday night, but right now I just think I’ve overdone just about everything I shouldn’t. A couple of years ago I got hammered Christmas day and had to work the next day. I felt like death warmed over. Maybe this Christmas I’ll find an open space and run a few miles.

It’s time to do something different.

Take Care,



  1. You could just opt out, Mike. It's what my wife and I have done for more than 10 years now. The last time I went to see family for Christmas I nearly got arrested at a Whataburger on the way home to sanctuary. No more. We stay home and stay in. No giving gifts. No getting gifts. No expectations that invariably don't get met. Just time with my wife. Jesus wouldn't recognize this seasonal period of madness, and, besides, it's commanded in the Bible to recognize and commemorate his death, not his birth.

    Opt out. It's time.

    1. I agree geek. I'm going to sit this thing out.

  2. Roadgeek, his lovely bride and I share the same views on this so-called "holiday." True, I work for the most diabolical of businesses this time of year and I do manage to gain some of the treasure it manages to trickle down to the ones that push it the hardest...retail. The incessant repetition of holiday carols that drift evocatively through the sounds of forklifts, radial arm saws and the ever popular expulsion of air driven cutters do make for a rather festive atmosphere while the masses are urged to shop and buy. To his credit, our store manager did opt out of the carol-laden soundtrack and stuck with hits of the 70's over the store's PA system. Nothing like hearing Blue Oyster Cult singing "Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll" for true yuletide cheer. But, alas, even his stalwartness has demurred the past few days when his boss walked through the doors and frowned. He did not share my enthusiasm and thus uttered the edict to conform to the season.
    However, this scene is not the source of my distaste for the holiday. Rather it was the ugly scene that occurred far from home in a hostile land where I was choked with treachery and laid low by anger and the madness that ensued. The Christmas experience found us walking the streets of Arlington, Texas while a supposed in-law drove past our train on foot. My children and I were admonished not to make a mess of her home while her sister, my then wife, drove us away. We were left on foot hundreds of miles away from home and not one of her relatives offered us a ride. My daughter remembered a name from a church program she once attended and with a quick phone call a friend of hers materialized with his father to take us to the airport and then back home to Austin.
    We survived, but only after facing the anger of an immature, jealous woman wallowing in throes of her own perceived victory that cost us all so much. I lost my love and trust in her. My children have never recovered from the shock of her words of hate and venom at our departure. It was yet another step leading to the day when it was called quits.
    Perhaps there will come a day when I feel that it might be allowed back into my heart. However, it must be for the right reasons. Reasons that are not based on greed or entitlement. I somewhat play the game for now, but my heart isn't in it. The day will come and I will wish my Lord a happy birthday if it truly is his birthday. Does anyone know when that is? But, like Roadgeek says, we are to celebrate his death and resurrection.

    1. David this while thing is a far cry from anything religious and oddly, it's worse.

  3. Interesting about you mentioning the loan companies. The first Christmas my late husband and I had after marrying, we went all out and BORROWED money to buy everyone on BOTH sides of our families gifts. We paid for that mistake all year long, and let me tell you, it was the BEST lesson we ever learned. Do NOT borrow to buy gifts -- and usually for ungrateful people to boot. I spend Christmas Eve with my sister/their families, but we draw names -- makes it fair, since I receive one gift and give one gift. I spend Christmas day alone, doing exactly whatever I want to do. Great post!

    1. I got fired for telling people they couldn't afford to borrow money. It was the happiest day of my life.