Sunday, December 21, 2008

That's Goddamn right

Anyone who can work retail between October and January and still enjoy Christmas music should be studied in a lab. 

The retail industry is good at two things: sucking your soul out through your pores and destroying Christmas. On the sales floor you're attacked from all sides. Customers bitter and annoyed by all the people they have to buy presents for. Companies trying to coddle, cajole, and cheat consumers out of every possible cent. And the incessant repetition of the same five Christmas songs sung by a series of increasingly irritating performers. I fear that if I ever meet Jessica Simpson I will involuntarily punch her in the face as the reminder of the countless times I have been forced to listen to her rendition of "Baby, it's Cold Outside" will just be too much to bear. 

We spend too much money on the wrong things. And, yes, I'm including myself in this. Very much so. Looking at Christmas from the least cynical point of view we are, most of us, buying presents for the right reasons; because we want to do something nice, to give something nice to the people we care about. We want to make them happy. So, ok, yeah, when you get that iphone or ps3 or DVD box set that you asked for you're happy about it. But how long does that happiness last? When was the last time you got a gift that spoke to your soul? When was the last time that you got a gift that enriched your life and kept giving? When was the last time you got a gift that really felt like a gift? And when was the last time that you gave one? Maybe it's different for you but it's been my experience that we ask for the wrong things. And I think that, more than anything else is what is depressing me this holiday season. That and the fact that I missed Santa.

One of my favorite things about Christmas, one of the few things that has yet to be tainted, is Fire Truck Santa. Every year the local fire department decks out an engine with Christmas lights and decor and one of the fire fighters dresses up as Santa. The engine drives down every street in town waving and shouting and throwing candy canes. I remember being so surprised and excited our first Christmas in the new house when I realized that they did that in this town too. I look forward to this one silly moment with such ridiculous glee. At twenty-seven it still makes me feel like a little girl who believes that anything is possible. That there's a man out there who dedicated his life to bringing joy to the entire world. And is successful. That magic exists and people use it for good. That sometimes getting what you want is as simple as asking for it. When that truck passes by the house is when it really starts to sink in that Christmas is coming and I better start enjoying myself while I still can because before you know it the gifts will be unwrapped, the lights will come down and everything will be just a little bit greyer. Once I see Santa waving and shouting Ho! Ho! Ho! I let myself enjoy Christmas. Tonight when I got home I could hear the sirens wail, but they were taunting me. Santa had gone and he wasn't coming back. 

I'll admit it; I'm still pouting a little bit. I'll get over it but right now it's like somebody else blew out all the candles on my birthday cake.
Fortunately for me I wasn't unoccupied long enough for my pout to bloom into melancholy. Jacki came over and we made vegan chocolate chip cookies (which turned out far better than the brownies, since we actually followed directions this time, at least, for the most part) and watched Shawshank Redemption.
Shawshank is one of those movies that I had always meant to see but never quite got around to it. Kind of like I had always wanted to check out Modest Mouse but never did until Johnny Marr joined up. And then I went to two concerts just so I could watch him play…but, I digress… 

It's Jacki's favorite movie and I can understand why. I'm going to have to read the book now and that's definitely saying something, as I am not exactly what you would call a Stephen King fan. The only book of his I have ever read is On Writing. I just don't do horror. And "It" (movie) scarred me for life. Clowns… * shudder * 

We all have our prisons. Sometimes the world puts us there and sometimes we build them ourselves. Sometimes you break free only to realize that the outside world you've been staring at through the bars is nothing more than a courtyard in a larger prison. The question is do we give in to the institutionalization or do we pick up our rock hammer and start tunneling through the next wall?

That's a question I have to ask myself everyday. This quarter life crisis has been going on for far too long now. It's getting old. And 40 hours a week of retail slavery can make a person feel like maybe this really is all that there is. Maybe life is nothing more than what you do to stay alive. What's the point in playing the harmonica or dreaming about the ocean when it's only going to make you want to do more than exist? When it comes down to it, all the myriad of decisions we make everyday that decide who we are, are just variations on two choices:

Get busy living, or get busy dying.

That's Goddamn right.

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