One Sunday in early November, someone in Tulsa was driving downtown when he saw a yellow light. The same question crossed his mind as crosses mine when I encounter a yellow traffic light: Do I stop or do I go? He chose to speed up. The light turned red before he hit the intersection. He had misjudged the light's timing. A blue Honda barrelled towards him.Read More
Have you ever wanted to say “Happy Holidays” to someone, but you actually did want it to come across as an insult?
I was at the allergy clinic earlier this week, and a woman who is sitting nearby is watching the news. I am not watching the news—one, it's Fox News, so I'm aware that pulling out my phone and watching My Little Pony on Netflix is likely to be more edifying; second, they're talking about the War on Christmas. So I'm extremely disinterested in the TV. This woman, on the other hand, she is enthralled by it.
On the War on Christmas: if there were one, it'd be like the war on zombies. You're part of your own little, barbed-wire-enclosed compound. You watch as the other compounds—first Thanksgiving, now Halloween—are consumed by the Christmas horde. You can fight back against Christmas, but its onslaught is unstoppable, backed by billions upon billions of dollars in holiday sales and end-of-the-year dividends. Christmas has been taking over every winter holiday since it killed all the non-Christian winter rebirth celebrations and wove them its growing, mutated, Frankenstein's monster body.
I'm pretty sure that Christmas starts in September now. And if the neighborhoods I frequent are any indication, it ends sometime in March. There is no War on Christmas. If there is, Christmas is the undisputed winner. Christmas is fighting with Hellfire-missile-raining drones, and we've got a few sticks and a potato gun.
So this woman turns back to me and says, “Isn't that horrible? They keep taking Christ out of Christmas, there's gonna be nothing left.”
“What?” I say. I'm distracted by my phone, but I'm also dumbfounded by her comment.
She looks back at the TV and says, dramatically, “It's Christmas. Not just any holiday.”
I can't respond. I'm wondering if I've stepped into an Onion editorial column.
She gets up to leave. “Merry Christmas,” she says.
I frown internally, but I tell her, “Happy Holidays.” I could've said “Merry Christmas,” but I didn't want to. She doesn't deserve Christmas. In her own worldview, Christmas means something. At its most secular, it's a celebration of giving. Sticking to “Merry Christmas” like it's a cudgel with which to beat back non-Christians is an intensely selfish behavior. It says, “This area of the calendar is mine. MINE!” That's neither Christian, nor is it Christmas-y.
Really, if you have a problem with people wishing you happiness of any kind, then you're the problem. A flowchart posted online by my former community counseling professor at Oklahoma State University does a great job of tapering down the point to a sharp end. Enjoy and share this holiday season:
I have two jobs right now. In one, I'm a case manager to youth with significant mental health needs. It's difficult work, but I've been doing it now for over a year and a half, so I've gotten pretty good at it. Then there's the second one: professional counselor to teenagers. I love both of them, but I adore the second one. Paperwork abounds, but it's so fun to talk with the kids and work with them.
But it's not without it's level of exhaustion. I've got one full-time job and one (right now) part-time job, and forty hours a week to complete both. That's not humanly possible. Fortunately, I have great and understanding supervisors who can help me transition. Unfortunately, I have this remarkable difficulty in asking for help. Still working on that. It's a thing.
Today was fun though. While the skies whorled in shades of gray and small funnels formed and dispersed, while lightning strikes showered the sky in a pale blue hue, I in my car, driving through the rain at a pretty chill pace. A silver speedster slipped past me with fury, slipping between cars like he was playing a faster version of Oregon Trail, where you're supposed to maneuver a rickety wagon along a river avoiding obstacles lest your oxen and passengers die horrible deaths.
I recently played Oregon Trail again. There were only a few people with diseases, but no one died until that damn river minigame. To the driver in the silver car, I was a rock in the torrential rain striking the pavement. I found myself worried for the guy. And, oddly, wondering whether any of his passengers had typhus.
In the residential roads, people hovered on the grassy curbs, some with their cameras out, staring at the funnels forming over the downtown area. One man, with pale white skin, a bald head, and a mullet that would make John Stamos cringe, watched the sky wearing only striped boxers. Now that's pride. Or a total lack of sense. Maybe he was so awestruck that he decided, "Screw dignity. There's tornadoes a'formin'!" If only we could all be so carefree.
So that was my day. How was yours?