What is your favorite holiday?
Mine is Easter.
A friend of mine announced over pumpkin pie last Thursday that Thanksgiving was his.
I speed-dated a woman once a long time ago who said she liked Ash Wednesday best. (Did I run away screaming? Of course not! I was impressed.)
But many people say Christmas. The warm fuzzies are several inches thick all over this holiday. And mythology pervades it, so that certain Christians strive to remind us that the birth of Jesus is "the reason for the season."
But there is nothing more carnal, even among Christians, than this exercise in wish-fulfillment.
Santa Claus need not enter into the equation, though he almost always does. The basic story is that the world is freezing cold and dark; a need is present; a "spirit" of Christmas appears from nowhere and infects everyone, who all turn magically nice to each other; the need is fulfilled; and then it begins to snow, warm, gentle flakes from a calm night sky.
This narrative has seduced millions of Americans, because we are sentimental, because we love the beginning of hope, and because the expectation about the coming of a Messiah is never much below our consciousness.
I will admit that when I begin going to work in the dark, and coming home in the dark, the festive lights and smell of pine seduces me. San Francisco at Christmas is grand, and cracked dungeness crab and champagne for Christmas Eve dinner, then Midnight Mass where you walk into church puffing dragon breath into the chill.
This experience, for me, is independent of mythology. I am most silent at Christmas, and, unlike myself, have no thoughts, but let my senses flood themselves with pleasure.
This year, it's America's duty more than ever to wade into the pre-Christmas chaos for the sake of the economy. But perhaps the economy will allow us to have a quieter holiday, where we stop for a minute to enjoy the silence of that moment when all is calm, and all is bright.