The Reason For The Season
Five Holiday Impressions
• The Most Wonderful Time of The Year showers down from the speakers overhead onto the labyrinth of shoppers below—scurrying this way and that, filling their carts with ten pound bags, some labeled Fat and others Sugar, in a Busby Berkeley swirl of Product and Consumer and Carol. The number winds down to the rum-pum-pum-pum of Little Drummer Boy—the movie screen lighting up with the faces of Bing Crosby and David Bowie, singing together, uniting the generations, as a young couple strolls by smiling, pushing a shopping cart and a baby stroller. A full immersion baptism.
• Churches are wiping down the kneelers and preparing for that singular day in the year when every pew is full of bundled up believers. The holiday cassock is out of the mothballs. The sermon is being rehearsed. During this time of PFS (Prescribed Financial Squandering) it is always good to remind parishioners of the POTH (Plight Of The Homeless). The basket is ready to make the rounds—there will even be some fives!—donations, sacrifices—letting some air out of that tired guilt. The voices will be raised in communal joy, lifted in praise as the weight of that gnawing holiday sense of duty and responsibility is being sent into exile for another year. Well, ten months.
• At Carnegie Hall, the orchestra and chorus had just finished their annual musical flogging of Handel’s old warhorse, Messiah —when the tuxedos and gowns in the audience, who were in standing ovation mode, were suddenly raised towards the heavens.
Actually it was only about 4 inches off the ground and only for about 4 seconds — as was confirmed later through the numerous cellphone images snapped by quick thinking and nimble members of the audience. Everyone was safe, unharmed, though quite noticeably confounded.
The Daily News headline the next morning read Miracle on 57th Street?
• In a kingdom far far away, a land where no GPS has yet trodden, near a circle of Neolitic stones, a tribe of stout naked men and women are gathered around a Yule log, celebrating the fruits of the harvest, drinking handcrafted mead, chanting “around the Wheel again!”, and roasting marshmallows. The cumulonimbus clouds, bulbous, almost callipygian, sit overhead.
• The city had organized to have various Currier & Ives winter scenes of sleighs and snow enlarged, the enormous prints then being pasted onto windows to cover up the increasing number of empty retail store spaces all over the city.
The mayor defended the project—“We should see the Retail Glass as full, and not half empty.”
A graffiti artist who called himself Artsy was taking photos of the empty shops, enlarging them, and sticking them on currently occupied stores. He called the series “Who You Kiddin’?”
The Reason For The Season
I really don’t know the reason. I couldn’t even guess. If I tried to present my fractured perspective I would be forced to use the tools of Surrealism.
How else deal with the fact that my fashion designers and makeup artists for almost a century have been Coca Cola illustrators. That’s pretty Dada.
Perhaps later I’ll venture an answer through a short story, but for now I do have my class of Elves here to help me out.
These particular individuals are new to the North Pole. For now they are here to study, to absorb the multiple levels of physical and psychological hyper-text and the hyperbole. Their goal is simply to observe the bizarre permutations of this seasonal spectacle. Eventually they will each be required to write a brief dissertation, after which they can graduate, allowing them henceforth to punch the time-clock in my workshop.
So—before we close today’s session I’d like to ask each of them to share, in a nutshell, their thoughts on the topic.
Let’s present the question thus: what is the Reason for The Season?
You want to start off, Alabaster?
Sure. It’s a Biological initiative that Nature requires from us. Like getting birds to fly in patterns. We need to join one another on some deeper, an almost gyroscopic level, to share in the tumble of physical energy, to toss our souls like snowballs, to deeply share our spirits, our fruitcakes and scarf-and-glove sets.
But is it, this force of Nature which you suggest, is it doing this to create some better perfection, and evolution, or perhaps it just wants us to do things that will assist in wiping out a bunch of us because we’ve become so over-bloated.
I get the sense that Nature doesn’t care one way or another. As it requires sex for breeding, it also doesn’t care if we also do it for pleasure. It built in the requirement for food to sustain the organism, but if we choose to fuel it with Spam and Dunkin’ Donuts, so be it.
It spends exuberantly, and spends more time talking to trees than to us because it’s obvious they’ll listen. Sadly, I just read they’re paying a $100 for a dead one in NYC this season.
I see it as mass psychological submission to Group-think!
They stared into the fire of the Yule log, their shaman pronouncing thanks for the the harvest.
They made things, created commodities, and so concluded that there must be a creator to Everything.
It didn’t take too long before that Creator chose to talk to some Guys and tells them what needs doing—this usually coincides with what those Guys want.
And then jump ahead to the last century or so, just as all the metaphysical stuff starts to wear a bit thin, and they invent a car and then a cellphone.
The Attention Span knob is turned to Basic Function, the operating system to Consume. The bees produce the bitcoin, serving Queen Technology.
[What about you Shinny, what do you think?]
I read a story that at one time in Peru, when transistor radios were rare and a status symbol, people would be seen walking around with rocks painted to look like radios. I think Wunorse hits on something with the bee analogy.
Tribes. Hives. They gather nectar from TV shows. Acceptance. Status. Family. I’ll bet your own Mrs. Clause is a size queen when it comes to flat screen TVs.
[You behave yourself Shinny! Or no eggnog before bed!
Remember—I’m fun ol’ Santa Baby. You could get sent over to work for Old Saint Nick. And he has no use for Elves—he’s more into resurrecting murdered children, who were pickled in brine by the butcher who was going to sell them as pork.]
The whole harvest thing seemed to make sense. Seaons. Maybe they lost some of it because of big cities and could buy a fresh peach during a February snowstorm. But that sled is ricocheting downhill out of control — they’re already buying stuff from next year’s harvest—on credit.
The need for Never-ending Stuff was a hell of a narcotic, before they even added that dangerously powerful ingredient: Convenience.
And then there’s us. We always get painted as happy—nobody underpaid and overworked here—carpentering away on colorful toys.
I don’t seem to have the necessary cheerful disposition for these particular forced festivities. Maybe Edward Gorey or Gahan Wilson had a hand in creating me. I wrote in my dissertation that this holiday is a treadmill and
that if I were left alone in the workshop I’d be tempted to carve a wreath that looks like a hamster wheel.
[Have you taken your medication today, Pepper?]
[Bushy?. . .]
I identify with some Pepper’s response.
Love without truth keeps this thing rolling— Sentimentality. The good people (he points to the Norman Rockwell poster on the wall, Freedom From Want) — they need a good story to feel good, to feel It’s A Wonderful Life, to be open to acquiesce with wonder and wallets to Macy’s empty slogan: “Believe!”
They get giddy at the conversion of the greedy heart of Scrooge, forgetting he’s probably still working on Wall Street, doing more than fine.
And the Grinch story —it just gives misanthropes a bad name.
Not that I want truth without love. I just want the story told in such a way so I can have a hearty gallows laugh at thoughts of the landfills in January.
Wrap It Up Pretty
Wow. Thank you all for your individual perspectives.
Much to think about as I prepare for my conference with Prancer and Vixen later today.
And if I remember my directives correctly I’m also supposed to be checking my list. . .
“And checking it twice!”—the elves all respond in harmony, as laughter erupts.
Let’s remember one thing as we are pulled forward into this festive whirlpool that smells of peppermint and chestnuts roasting. It is their thing!
Whatever our own limitations are in being able to step out beyond the red and green barbed-wire, I do not want to paint them as pawns in this Game. They in fact can stop reaching for the brass ring, they are able to get off the carousel, and they should walk away down the beach. They just don’t seem to grok it though, do they?
If I could I would sit each one of them down with all that year-end accumulation they exchanged—that flotsam and jetsam that does not in any way rise to the level of “gift” because it is obviously being pulled down by the gravity of it being a responsibility.
I would show them:
This is the object > it used to be money > and before that it was Time!
I would ask them:
Was that conversion worth it—a good idea?
And certainly they would come back with explanations and excuses which I would have them write down. I would then proceed to toss them onto the Yule log, exclaiming: “Who you kiddin’?”
But onward my dears—let us carry on and be strong this holiday season.
Ours is not to question why. As I have said, that is a choice that only they can make. We cannot be this season’s naysayers, complainers, killjoys, sour pusses, party poopers, or environmentally concerned wet blankets—only the wisest among them must bring forth that much needed critical thinking; and yea, they shall be shunned for speaking such blasphemy.
Let us freshen up this space in case any new illustrators might want to capture this fantasy of where-all-the-toys-are-made. Blinking lights and the train set, candy canes and bells, stockings by the fireplace—nutcracker king and ginger bread boy; and many fancy-wrapped boxes. It’s a dream—make it real.
Alabaster, would you remember to hang the Peace on Earth and Good Will Towards All needlepoint above the mantle. It will make a great tagline as the lights dim and the camera pans back.
And remember, no matter the stress or anxiety—be jolly!!
© AleXander Hirka 2019. All Rights Reserved.
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