For the Rest of Us

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While avoiding work at my local Starbucks on an early November morning, I couldn’t help but notice the song playing from the overhead speakers and the soulful voice that kept repeating, “It’s Christmas time,” and I thought, but it is not Christmas time. It isn’t even really Thanksgiving yet. We are still sorting through the piles of rotting gourds from the pumpkin spice apocalypse that moved in as we were desperately trying to find a place to store the beach umbrellas and styrofoam noodles. Then suddenly, there appears an army of pumpkins, infecting our fast food restaurants, candle shops, and national lotion supply.

Despite rumors to the contrary, pumpkin is not a spice. It is a vegetable. When something is deemed to be pumpkin spice flavor, what they really mean is that it is pumpkin pie flavor: Pumpkin pie flavored lattes, pumpkin pie flavored French toast stacks with salted caramel, pumpkin pie flavored air freshener, pumpkin pie flavored condoms.

Thanksgiving with its signature flavors of poultry and gravy is much less marketable, so we go directly from pumpkin spice to candy canes. Much like traced hand turkeys and wicker cornucopias, the green bean casserole frappuccino has not been a top seller. So as the Halloween candy is making its way to the clearance aisle, the Christmas wreath scented candles, laundry detergent, and tampons make their way to the shelves.

The holiday season and its promotion of unnecessary spending is like blue meth to merchants. Move over stuffing the turkey, giving thanks, and rewriting history, it is time to buy a peppermint mocha latte and max out your credit cards! This extended season also gives people who encourage us all to respect the reason for the season more chances to shame businesses who do not actively participate in proper Christmas décor by plastering their products with images of Santa, angels, and American flags.

Unfortunately for someone like me who annually pledges my allegiance to Satan by wishing friends and co-workers, “Happy holidays!” the extended season can make me war weary. I have to make sure I keep “Ruin the most celebrated holiday of the year” at the top of my X-mas to-do list. Last year I even purchased a fake Christmas tree because I realized after I got divorced that one of the most difficult things about living alone, second only to a rodent in the house, which requires moving to a new house, is putting up a real Christmas tree by myself. Although a fake tree is not really a war on Christmas, it is still a reminder of my antagonistic presence, like no troops on the ground, just some unmanned drones sent to drop bombs on anyone wearing a real #reasonfortheseason Christmas sweater (i.e., one with reindeer on it).

I also do not participate in the magic that is The Elf on the Shelf. This is the doll that parents bring out after Thanksgiving and position in different places each night so that he can watch the kids and report back to Santa, a Christmas tradition dating all the way back to ye old 2005. The point is to teach your children to be good while they are being watched, and if they behave then they will get presents, and if they misbehave they do not get presents and should be put up for adoption. Also the other point is to photograph the Elf and talk about him on social media as if he is part of your family, “You will never believe what Teddy Von Smellybelly did last night! He graffitied the wall with a can of spray paint!”

The parents have to move their elf every night and make him do all sorts of ridiculous elf things, like make a mess with a bag of flour, toilet paper the Christmas tree, or poop Hershey’s kisses. Then the kids wake up and assume he must be real because certainly their parents would not deliberately trick them, especially when the result is a big mess they will have to clean up. Although the elf is there to act as a big brother figure, reporting every stolen cookie, eye roll, or bong hit back to Santa, the elf himself is quite mischievous, which offers a great opportunity to teach your children that authority figures don’t have to follow the same rules as the rest of us.

Just in case anyone who is against the war is not entirely comfortable with the Elf’s allegiance to the real meaning of Christmas, there is an Elf on the Shelf Jesus Style, and it even has its own hashtag because if anything protects the real reason for the season it is tweeting about an elf. #elfontheshelfjesusstyle can be found each morning doing things that demonstrate what it means to be a Christian, like reading the Bible, praying, or protesting at an abortion clinic.

Although I have a serious dedication to supporting the idea that people of all faiths—or lack thereof—should be able to celebrate whatever holiday they choose, in any way that they choose, without being bombarded by symbols of a differing ideology even as they sip their ginger spice iced latte, the main reason we do not have an Elf on the Shelf is because I am too lazy. I could never remember to move the elf every night for a month. I can barely even remember to be the tooth fairy and that is required much less often. The morning after my daughter lost her first tooth she walked out of her room holding the little bag with her tooth still in it, and I thought, “Oh shit.” I ran out to my car and grabbed a five-dollar bill from my wallet, put it in her room, and then asked her to check again. She humored me.

It is probably best that she learn now that anything that involves someone sneaking into your room while you are sleeping should be approached with caution. The tooth fairy once left a hair dryer under my pillow. I think this prepared me for when I was in college and my boyfriend showed up in the middle of the night, peed on my desk chair, and then passed out. Both times I woke up the next morning thinking that this wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. And wondering what to do with the white elephant.

What I really like about Christmas is being with my family, watching the kids open their presents, having champagne for breakfast, and getting some days off from work. As long as I can have those things I don’t really care what anybody else does. You can celebrate by singing happy birthday to Jesus or by lighting a menorah, and I will celebrate by putting on a little black dress and getting drunk at the office party. Now, let’s all order a white chocolate peppermint mocha and spend money we don’t have. Cheers!

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