The Impermanence of Perfect Things
A few weeks ago, I made a remark to a co-worker about hearing a Christmas song in Lowe’s the day after Halloween.
“You’re just a Christmas hater,” the person said.
As I recall, my comment was innocent enough, something along the lines of “Hey, I heard a Christmas song in Lowe’s the day after Halloween,” not “I’m suing Lowe’s for reminding me of Christmas,” or “I wish we could ban Christmas. We should get rid of happiness and puppies, too, while we’re at it.”
Believe it or not, I’m not a soldier of the much-publicized yet somehow fictional War on Christmas. I don’t have a problem with Christmas, or any holidays, for that matter, but sometimes all the kitsch can seem a bit much too much, especially so early in the year. Christmas movies start in July, jewelry sales ramp up in October, and before the kids’ candy is sorted, the neighbors are out measuring the front yard for that new giant Santa’s Winter Wonderland Bouncy House.
But if I make a comment about early Christmas music, I’m labeled as the guy with the problem. If I point out that my neighbor was dangling precariously from his eaves on November 1st while trying to hang icicle lights, I’m the one who needs to check my worldview. Get with the program, Walker, people say. Purchase things. Be mirthful. Sing. Dance. Place inflatable cartoon characters in your yard.
It’s not limited to Christmas, either. Think about it. We can’t just eat food like a bunch of normal chumps. If it isn’t featured in a buffet with eight-hundred items, it’s a waste of my time, not to mention a mockery of my daily caloric requirements. Don’t give me tasteful ten-minute firework displays on July 4th and New Year’s Eve. No, I need to feel like I’ve experienced all the fireworks created since the dawn of time. I don’t want to watch It’s a Wonderful Life once during the holiday season. Give it to me all day, every day. Otherwise, what’s the point?
Don’t get me wrong. If this were the kind of Christmas-Every-Day Bill Murray’s Frank Cross advocates at the end of Scrooged, that would be one thing. If people immediately started being nicer to each other the day after Halloween, I’d welcome the saturation of reindeer-themed Kohl’s commercials and Hallmark movies about Santa’s estranged daughters.
I know, I sound like a misanthropic naysayer, and you’re probably wondering if I ever enjoy anything. (I do.) But what if every day of your life were Friday at quitting time, every place Disneyworld, every meal made up of your favorite foods, every time out with your significant other just like your best date? Sure, it sounds promising now, but trust me, sooner or later, you’d end up getting bored.
Impermanence is what makes things meaningful. If we do something all the time—whether it’s celebrating a holiday, watching a great movie, or eating a roast turkey leg, we can start to take it for granted.
Growing up, I had a friend whose family would only put up their Christmas tree on December 23rd. How strange, I used to think. Why would they wait until so late? Are they insane? Didn’t they get the Christmas memo?
Now I know why they waited.