Dec 2, 2008

A Hippie's Holiday Reflections

by Drew Menard

Though the true meaning of Christmas so often gets lost in the hustle and bustle of commercialism and selfishness, I cannot help but savor every last cliché, Christmas card cover, hot cocoa and candy cane moment of the holiday season.

As a self-declared non-conformist hippie (without the drugs), I often find myself pushing against the norm of contemporary America.

My disdain for the Christmas season, fueled by the doctrine of a glory-stealing, self-righteous, Christ-replacing, slave-driving, cookie-stealing-gluttonous advertising mastermind for all the department stores who is wrapped in a fuzzy red suit with a big white fluffy beard in order to hide his diabolical ways has just about led me to forget the whole ordeal altogether. But, despite my disapproval of how the holiday is approached by many, I still find warmth and joy throughout the Christmas ritual.

Perhaps I am just the product of another stereotypical-made-for-TV-movie where the Grinch-type character finds some superficial solution to all of his cranky holiday cynicism. As much as I hate to admit it, that guy just may be me.

Christmas to me is a time for family. Both of my parents come from rather large families who stay in touch. I have cousins galore, 28 to be exact, and all of us love spending time together. For me Christmas means I get to sit in the “18 to 20-something” room, formerly known as the “teen” room, and catch up with my cousins. It means ping-pong tournaments dominated by my little sister, playing pool, eating treats hearing overdramatized stories from Uncle Ed and receiving gag-gifts from Uncle Bob.

Only at Christmas time do I genuinely feel like giving more than receiving, not to sound cliché, but it is the truth. It is the time of year when I spend hours deliberating what gifts will mean the most to those who I cherish most in my life. Even when finances are low, I make an effort to remind my loved ones, in a tangible way, that they mean a lot to me.

My little Grinch heart grows three sizes each year right around the Christmas holiday. Even though I loathe the “jolly fat man,” I enjoy watching my younger brother Aaron dress up as Santa and hand out presents to my little cousins. I get a chuckle as Grandma plants a juicy red kiss right on “Santa’s” cheek as she sits on his lap. The chuckle turns into a roar of laughter as my youngest brother and two of my cousins reminisce about the “Santa arrangement,” which was supposed to mean that all of us would rotate playing Santa after my uncle “retired” from the role. Somehow Aaron’s turn comes up every year.

I just can’t get enough Christmas carols. I find myself ditching my stash of hardcore metal and punk rock for Christmas tunes every year from November to as late as the middle of January. I love them all, from “Angels We have Heard on High” to “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas.” Nothing can compare to singing along to the Muppets’ “12 Days of Christmas” with my father’s side of the family. We all congregate in groups and assume characters (generally overly-animated and off-key) to sing the various parts.

Imagine a pack of 40-something men belting “six geese a-layin’” followed by “five golden rings,” sung out by a chorus of screaming adolescent girls.

For one season out of the year, I am willing to drop my maverick visage and proudly declare that I am ecstatic about the holiday season. All of the family memories, like the fire in my living room, bring warmth into my life. Just don’t ask me to put on a fat-suit and make me listen to the selfish demands of crying children.

 


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