Tis’ the Season… to Avoid Depression: FA LA LA 2U2

I have my own Christmas traditions, developed over decades and continents, usually wherever I happen to find myself on the blessed day, either for lack of imagination or some rogue inspiration, none of which places can usually be considered ‘home,’ as the concept seems to have largely eluded me over the years.  If stuck at ‘home,’ I find that the day can even make me extremely depressed if I don’t deal with it pro-actively, because even though I’m extremely put off by the commercialism of Christmas, that doesn’t mean that I can entirely dismiss it.  I know; I’ve tried.

     So kids throughout the country open their presents, and big brothers beat up on little brothers, and mothers stir things up in the kitchen, and dads carve turkeys and make coffee, and… I don’t know what sisters do, since I never had any.  But usually I’m off roaming the map somewhere on Christmas day.  That keeps me from getting depressed.  It keeps me from having to be proactive, too, since travel mode is largely reactive, reacting to conditions imposed upon me, with limited options to create my own conditions, or my own coffee, or my own cake, or to eat it, either. 

     But this is the second year in a row I’ve been here in front of a fake fire on my TV screen, so something of a novel experience, to have to amuse myself with traditions and expectations and cultural considerations of the American sort of Christmas.  Two years ago I was in Australia, the year before that Yemen, the year before that Guyana.  But if I’m in a Christian country, then my favorite thing to do is simply walk down the street—the middle of the street—first thing in the morning, because that’s the only time you can do it, almost, in daylight at least, without fear of being run over, without fear of much of anything, really, because even the hardest cop is not likely to give you a citation for jaywalking on Christmas day, especially if you wish him a Merry Christmas first. 

     That’s what I mean by being proactive… in spreading good will… in assuming the best of people… and usually getting it in return.  It’s nice to see an American city without cars crawling all over it, too, if only for a morning, to remind myself that it wasn’t always that way… and won’t always be.  And it’s always nice to imagine what Christmas might mean besides conspicuous consumption of consumer electronics and overpriced fashion, even if it’s just conspicuous consumption of turkey, and spuds, and other stuffings and dressings and garnishes and relishes.  Then come the leftovers.  I think I’ll fast.  Merry Christmas… and a Happy New Year.

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