Thursday, 25 December 2008

The Mother of Anti-Climaxes!

Is Christmas Day an anti-climax? I ask this question of my Christmas-observing friends not with any antipathy or religion-baiting subtext. I ask it in genuine perplexity as a person for whom the holiday holds no intrinsic value or time-bound tradition. For me, December 24th and 25th are much like any other day on the calendar, with the noted exception that the only entertainment open to me are the aforementioned Asian restaurants and movie theatres. (Frost/Nixon is excellent by the way, as was our Christmas feast of Thai/Sushi!) The four weeks of December leading up to Christmas are awash with planning and preparation. The ubiquitous decorations and carols in every establishment are impossible to avoid. Television seems to turn its entire program schedule over to specials and holiday episodes. (I fall for this stuff every year. I love the constant repetition of Jimmy Stewart running through the snowy streets of Bedford Falls or Ralphie hoping against hope for that elusive Red Rider BB gun. He almost shoots his eye out, you know?) I watch in distanced marvel as my friends and neighbours scurry around for the last minute gift, decorate their living spaces within an inch of the fabled Griswolds, or cloister themselves in kitchens, baking furiously, but when the actual day arrives I always wonder "Where is the promised excitement?"

I have spent most of the past 21 Christmases in the southern climes of Miami in a condominium development that, while fairly heavy in Semitic owners, has more than its share of Christmas-fearing residents as well. Many of my floor neighbours are full-timers with children who observe the holiday. So, every Christmas morning I expect the full Hollywood scene. I expect to hear squeals of laughter and giggles of delight as my neighbours open their gifts. I expect to hear raucousness and singing. I expect wafts of delicious odours permeating through my walls as people prepare for their Christmas feasts. I expect to see my neighbours decked out in their finest to head off for religious ceremonies. I just don't see it happening. Instead I see people tired and fed up with the season. I see folks awash in obligation rather than enjoyment. I see people choosing to work on a day when few do. I hope that I am wrong, but it seems to this outsider who looks in that Christmas truly is the mother of all anti-climaxes. I would very much like to be proven wrong about this observation, so I am asking all of you readers who have some knowledge on the subject, to set me straight. Has Christmas become what Charlie Brown feared or is there still a bit of Linus left in the day? I am truly interested.

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