Dispatch from the War on Christmas
Dear Aunt Mabel,
I hope this letter finds you well. I am writing you from the Christmas frontlines, currently in front of Cinnabon at Twin Oaks Mall. May Jesus and Santa forgive me, but I have to say that this is the worst I've ever seen it.
What a horrible place, the mall. The architecture of these things is all the same. Malls are the architectural scat of the biggest American colossus, corporate capitalism -- a cogs-and-bricks-and-money giant that thunders, three miles high, across the landscape, stopping and squatting occasionally to crap out one of these rectangular jumbles of cement block. May Jesus forgive them for sucking so bad.
I have some sad news -- John has been in an accident. It was his first day here, and we were eating lunch in the food court, in front of the Peppy Peppy Pizza. Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a lady carrying three bags stop in her tracks, like she saw someone she knew. She raised a hand, and shouted it, right there in the middle of the mall. "HAPPY HOLIDAYS!"
The carnage was bad. Real bad. I'm sorry to say John wasn't prepared to hear it, and he accidentally stabbed himself repeatedly in the eye with a plastic fork.
The doctors say he'll be fine, but he'll lose that eye. Even in his sleep he's mumbling Merry Christmas, over and over. He's a damn fighter, that one. He's one of the lucky ones, because I'm pretty sure some other people got trampled in the rush to get out.
This whole war has been a nightmare. I was at Circuit City yesterday, looking for a cheap DVD player. Out front they had a "Happy Holidays" banner that must have been in letters three feet high. I stepped under it, may Jesus forgive me, because I knew I had to get in there, but inside was no better. Some damn wreaths, here and there, and lots of lights, but no tree. I swear to God, no Christmas tree at all -- I looked everywhere. It was like being in Iraq or something.
I stumbled around with the rest of the shoppers. Everyone was in a daze, bumping into each other. I don't think any of us knew what to do, except just keep shopping, but I could tell everyone was thinking what I was. But I wasn't ready to see the DVD player prices, and I lost it.
"FIFTEEN FREAKING PERCENT OFF?", I shouted. (Sorry for the language. This war has screwed us all up) -- "FIFTEEN FREAKING PERCENT? WE'RE SUPPOSED TO BE CELEBRATING THE BIRTH OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOR HERE, AND ALL YOU CAN DO IS A FREAKING FIFTEEN PERCENT OFF?"
I knew then that I was among heathens, and I dropped all the DVDs and batteries and stuff that I had scooped up, and just left. I swear, some days I don't understand what this war is even about.
Over and over it's the same. Every damn store. Some of them just say "Happy Holidays" out front, and I don't even go in. Most say Merry Christmas, but even then, it rings hollow. If they really were celebrating Jesus, they'd have more lights. The music would be louder. The giant inflatable snowmen would be bigger, and there'd be more of them. There was one place that had a little nativity scene, and that was cool, but the baby Jesus was laying in a manger and instead of straw, they had little optical fibers that glowed all sorts of different colors. But sometimes it glowed RED, because that was one of the colors in the cycle, and when that happened it looked like they were trying to barbecue the Baby Jesus and I had to leave.
I've seen a lot of pain, on a lot of faces. I know that "Holidays" and "HolyDays" are related, but it's not the same. One has an "I", and one has a "Y". One is about the self, and one is about the Holy Mystery.
Y. Y, indeed. These damn heathen bastards.
They're making us forget the Y.
I know a guy who ran right off the road, just last week. He was passing a Kentucky Fried Chicken (I know, they call themselves "KFC" now, but that's just so freaking stupid I can't even handle it) and they had on the sign out front, right under the price of a 12-piece family bucket:
Dear sweet God. Of course, he ran right off the damn road. Even "Happy Holidays", you can sort of swallow hard and pretend you saw the Y and move on, but "Seasons Greetings?" It doesn't even sound human. It sounds like a brand of instant stuffing.
In fact, that's exactly what it sounds like. A brand of goddamn Satanic turkey stuffing. That's how far we've sunk, as Americans.
Wal-Mart was the best and the worst. Oh sure, they said Merry Christmas. Or maybe it was the guy outside ringing the bell that said Merry Christmas, I'm not sure -- I'm pretty sure the greeter said it too. But they had the DVD player like I was looking for, and at twentyfive bucks each I got two of them so the kids don't have to share.
I had to wait in line about a half hour, but I passed the time by talking to the person behind me in line, who was buying a bunch of clothes and stuff. I let her know which things Jesus would and wouldn't approve of, because I'm pretty good at knowing stuff like that. I thought that the Christmas Tree sweater with the little lights that light up using a teeny battery was pretty damn cool and a pretty good celebration of the Birth of Our Lord, but that I thought the socks had too much blue in them and not enough green. I also told her to make sure to check that the little snowman figurine wasn't made in a communist country, but we couldn't remember if Taiwan counted or not, so I told her it was probably OK, especially at that price.
It was all going OK until i got to the checkout and put everything down. The guy who was checking me out looked funny -- he was polite and cheerful, sure, but something was off about him. As he turned to recheck the price on a twentyfour pack of Rudolph and Frosty paper towels, because I was pretty sure the price was supposed to be sixty cents cheaper than it said, I saw what it was -- he was wearing a yarmulke (Is that how you spell it? Weird, but I looked it up). Seriously, I'm not kidding, right in the middle of the store. What kind of person just rubs his religion right in your face like that?
I was prepared. My mind is always ready for these challenges, and I knew what to do. I waited for him to ring me up, and paid my money, and got my receipt.
"Merry Christmas," I said, experimentally.
"Merry Christmas," he replied cheerfully.
I narrowed my eyes with a snarl, and with all my strength, I hit him as hard as I could with the twentyfour pack of Rudolph and Frosty paper towels.
"What are you doing!?" the person behind me shrieked, lunging over the counter in a really ripping move to prevent the guy from knocking over a bin of $2.99 plastic mini flashlights. "He said Merry Christmas! He said it!"
"But HE DIDN'T MEAN IT!", I shouted as loud as I could. "LOOK AT THE HAT! HE DIDN'T MEAN IT!"
I gathered my bags up, but I was just getting started, and I lit into everyone in the whole store. "CHRISTMAS IS SUPPOSED TO BE ABOUT PEACE ON EARTH, ALL YOU GODDAMN COMMUNIST BASTARDS! WHEN WILL YOU GET THAT? PEACE ON EARTH! YOU HAVE TO MEAN IT!" I marched out of the store, head held high. Because all the Wal-Marts in the world, all the Targets, all the Circuit Cities -- they just don't get it. They don't understand.
How long must we be persecuted? Christmas is about Peace on Earth and Goodwill Towards All, and how dare the pagan alliance of liberals, non-Christians, hippies and multinational corporations turn this into a damn war zone, where I have to look at every damn sign, and second-guess every greeting, and measure every Christmas tree to make sure that everyone understands that like we do. This is OUR time of year, as Christians, to show the world what Christianity is, and that Peace on Earth and Goodwill Towards All isn't some hollow greeting card thing, but is the way we live our lives, and screw them all if they can't see that. I, for one, will make sure that we understand about Peace On Earth if I have to hit every last damn greeter and fast food teenager and checkout person in America with a paper towel value pack. I'll boycott them all, until every last one of them understands that I am here in the name of Our Lord and Savior to bring PEACE ON EARTH if I have to shove it down every last throat. Especially the damn pagans.
Anyway, I'm so damn glad our church is closed this Sunday for Christmas, I need a break. Best thing they ever did, because you know come Monday, we are all going to need that strength to return oversized sweaters, and really ugly placemats, and all that made in China toy crap that breaks the first day. In Jesus' name we'll come back down on those malls and return stuff to celebrate Our Lord and Savior just like in the olden days, and besides it'll be good to have that Sunday to rest and just plug the new DVD players in and stuff.
Hope things are well there. I'll keep fighting, none of us want to leave before this job is done. Tell Uncle Bill I said hi and Merry Christmas and stuff, and that I'll be dead in the cold, cold ground before I recognize the goddamn pagan "New Years".
Once in a while you get shown the light
in the strangest of places if you look at it right