Reuters reports that some Chinese students are calling upon people to “resist Western cultural invasion.”
That’s hilarious, because the cannot resist. Christmas is far too big to stop now. And by “Christmas,” I mean “That day around which we go into massive credit card debt in order to buy things for people because somehow we found ourselves on this goddamned train and it started rolling and we couldn’t get off.” We are all already locked into Christmas, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. Everyone who has tried to resist has heard the Ubiquitous Agents of Christmas ask: “What, you don’t celebrate Christmas? Well, fuck you, Scrooge!” The social pressure to keep Christmas alive and beefy is unreal.
Maybe we can get off the train?
I’ll you tell you a secret. My family barely celebrates Christmas. This trend started off after my parents got divorced, and Christmas was never quite the same after that. It limped along on life-support for years–although Stepmom McGee gave it some life here and there.
Now, most (not all) of the McGee children are remorseless Godless heathens and generally have been broke for being in school too long (Ah, baby Jesus rewards the faithful with financial gifts and punishes the unfaithful, doesn’t he, Joel Osteen?). Our reasons for not celebrating xmas have changed. It’s not that the adult children still have bad memories from Christmas past–it’s that we can’t afford to buy presents.
Don’t get me wrong. We’re not poor, by any means. By “We can’t afford to buy presents,” I mean, “We currently don’t have much in the checking account for more than beer and day-to-day expenses, and we do have the available credit–but we burned our fingers on that stove and we’re not gonna touch it again.”
We are bombarded by all the advertising to get us to spend, spend, spend. I still feel that fucking urge to spend. And I see shit I want, and I think, “I could use that. It’d be awesome if my pops bought me that for xmas.” Maybe it’s the case that I know xmas is coming up, and so I think, “Hey, it’s the time I usually get stuff. Let me see what stuff I can conjure up.” I don’t need that shit. People in Baghdad probably don’t care about having a Wii–they just don’t want to be blown up randomly. Yes–I just pulled a “It could be worse…”
I think that I’m in some sort of netherworld. (Dorky word: “netherworld.”) I feel sickened by all the manipulation of advertising. I don’t want a commercial to turn me into the zombie it wants me to be. But then again, I admire its genius when it works. It gives us the fun shit: cars, Nintendos, computers, Sprite, The Wiggles, DVDs, Grown Pumpkin’s neon-green undercarriage lights (his “ground effects”), etc. But this just means that advertising has done its work on me. Think of all the commercials you watched when you were a child. I imagine their effect is ongoing and accumulating. As Zack once said: “What does the billboard say? ‘Come and play… come and play… forget about the movement…’ ”
People much smarter than I have said this before: you can’t ditch the aspects of your given identity completely. If you try, you end up looking crazy. But some combinations of your given attitudes don’t mesh, so you can’t just fully embrace the total package. For example, I have a deep suspicion that capitalism and Christianity aren’t the good friends they think they are. Do we really think that Jesus would want us to celebrate by buying more stuff for each other? What about merely performing some service for each other (showing your mom how to bookmark her favorite websites)? Or giving aid to the unfortunate–those who can’t pull themselves up by their bootstraps (and that’s yet another topic)? Does Jesus want me to have credit card debt?
It turns out that I’m one of those kids that wants the marshmallow now, but I also want two later. I’m betting those who want the one marshmallow now turn out to have more credit card debt.
Blah blah. Here’s where I am. Listen, Christmas, you’re a sexy and well-oiled machine. You got yerself a bigass engine under that hood. But I ain’t going into anymore credit card debt for ya. But I see you. And you see me.
Happy Holidays. Damn.
Agent Spanky McGee likes doing computer maintenance for his friends and family, because it’s fun, empowering to them, and saves them money. He also likes eating dinner and drinking good beer with them.