Looking For a Secular Florida Umbrella School?

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry F***ing Christmas

I am the frog in the pot. You know the one: Submerge him in water and slowly turn up the heat and he doesn’t realize how hot it’s become; dump him in a vat of boiling water and he frantically tries to hop out. I never realized how bizarre life in South Florida (I’m guessing, hoping, it’s not the rest of the country) had become until I stepped out of it. From the moment I got off the plane and tried to claim my bags, my path blocked by zombies glued to heated debates from CNN emanating from the giant screens atop the luggage carousel at Fort Lauderdale airport on the controversy over the dual placement of menorahs and crèches in government facilities (‘Scuse me. Excuse me, please. EXCUSE ME! Gotta get my bag!), I have been continuously shocked at the rude, narcissistic, hostile, and downright delusional behavior exhibited. Baseless opinions were vocally shared over the manger crisis. I wanted to shake them and scream, “We are at war, concern yourselves with that, why don’t you!” Later, horns blared and fingers flipped, “Get out of my way! That’s my parking space!” How was it that I never noticed before? The temperature had been rising ever so slightly and now after a cooling off period, I have been plunked into that bubbling pot.

People at their absolute worst, pushing and shoving, not to mention cursing, to get that perfect present for loved ones, and why? It’s Christmastime, moron. Time to celebrate greed and gross consumerism. Time to love your neighbors but only if they gave you something first, and then only if the asshole cleans up his dog crap instead of leaving it in your front yard as usual, and because Aunt Margaret gave you that lousy bottle of wine you need to get rid of.

In my family it’s all about quantity: How tall your tree is. How much you spent on presents. How many you received. How long you spent shopping. How many logos are conspicuously displayed on your person. (By the way, I don’t care how many Ralph Lauren labels I see on your clothes, you are not the lord of your English country manor, you live in suburbia along with one hundred and forty-two thousand other wanna-bes.) I love you seventeen very expensive gifts’ worth. The holy day of obligation reduced to a financial transaction.

Confusion reigns in the mind of my youngest. Is it Chuck E. Cheese’s birthday? If not, why did she spend the day wandering around that germ-factory pedophile-magnet with a bunch of strangers? Was it to spend quality time with the cousin she rarely sees? She came home with a load of junk and wearing an entirely new outfit presumably because she was not initially dressed in clothes trendy enough for the Boca crowd – a group so plastic I’ve received several compliments on the fabulous high and lowlights in my hair, no doubt it’s been a long time since they’ve experienced, healthy, unprocessed hair -- with the faintest idea this celebration was some sort of seasonal get-together for her cousin’s neighborhood friends. (Don’t kids just run around and play in their own yards anymore?) She now understands the holiday to be about crummy pizza, tokens, and time spent fruitlessly looking for your relative amidst clanging, clattering arcade games, a cousin whose attention had to be shared between twenty or so other little brats. Christmas is Holiday Barbie in her sexy red dress and a zipped up tree-shaped carrying case, a token of cheer from the rat-themed festivities.

We have already sent our regrets that we will not be attending the Fairytopia birthday extravaganza for the same cousin next week, especially after last year’s water theme park party where our child felt rather left out after vying unsuccessfully for her cousin’s attention all day, but we’ll be glad to drop by the house for the family party and have some cake, just don’t hand us any goody bags as we leave, please.

Family dinners, where one would normally enjoy the company of one’s grandparents, aunts, and uncles in the comfort and privacy of one’s home have been held at chain restaurants where everyone is fake-jovial for the sake of the other diners and their new best friend, the waiter, at least until the check comes. Cameras are passed to various staff members to commemorate the event that I would much rather forget. As the shutter snaps I make it a point to lean back into my brother’s shadow, removing myself from the merrymaking.

Friends and family were warned that we simply do not have the cargo capacity to fly back with gifts -- if they were even given advanced notice of our visit at all to avoid such difficulties in the first place -- to no avail. I have threatened, as I do nearly every year, to leave all unwanted gifts behind, donating them to charity. The kids receive toys and activity coloring sheets with restaurant meals and candy and gifts just for visiting various stores. No wonder you try so hard to impress them.

If you managed your time well, you only spent one-twelfth of the year preparing for the big day. If you are like some acquaintances, you spent all year purchasing presents and have been decorating your house for weeks. For one day. A day whose meaning is lost. Even among those who profess to believe.

Santa will visit the house we’re staying at, don’t worry, though he won’t visit yours and leave a little something for my kids there too. He doesn’t do that. He knows where we are and will leave one appropriately chosen gift for each child. They will also receive one or two little things, mostly necessities, from their parents. We are not neglecting or depriving our children, just doing what we believe is best for them, thank you for your concern and your baseless opinions, and merry Christmas to you.

No comments: