Monday, July 27, 2009
'twas a Merry Christmas in July
Christmas in July was over before you know it and now I can’t wait until next July 25.
I’m usually Scrooge-like when it comes to all holidays that don’t involve drinking and joking, and I don’t feel the need to crowd the calendar with any more days of structured jolliness. If I feel like being a mean, nasty SOB on holy days like Easter or Christmas, by God, I want to do it.
But as I come to grips with the knowledge that I’ll likely die as I’ve lived -- flat broke -- I’ve understood I need to make some compensations so my daughters will leaven their memories about their lazy, unproductive father with the appreciation that the old man was good for giggling.
So as we entered the dog days of summer, our vacation behind us, school still a ways off, I knew I needed to do something until August 7 and National Lighthouse Day.
I seized on July 25, Christmas in July. It was a natural because Christmas in December is the very best holiday for kids like ours, ages 8 and 3. And because, as we can all agree, Christmas needs some tyrannical improvements.
It’s too commercial. It’s excessively shrill. You feel pressure to do repulsive things like hug in-laws.
But Christmas in July is a fresh canvass. A visionary like me could cast it any way he wants.
And now I’m hopeful Christmas in July will usurp Christmas in December.
First of all, there is no stress to Christmas in July. In fact, I decided to honor the holiday just two shopping days before the actual event. That’s plenty of time because I decided everyone would get just one gift. I was able to shop for and wrap all four gifts in two hours (got myself a DVD of John Wayne’s, “Red River”).
Second, no Santa and no Jesus. They’re both real sweethearts, but every December they engage in an unseemly tug-of-war that makes the holiday difficult for sensitive sorts like me. So for Christmas in July, to hell with the both of them.
Third, decorations are minimized. There will be no neighborhood competitions about who can create the most light and noise pollution with mega-watt, ‘round-the-clock renditions of “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer.” Christmas in July is a stealth holiday. In fact, my wife didn’t even know it was happening until she walked down stairs to our cozy basement and saw a fire in the fireplace (it was 84-degrees outside) and the rented version of “A Christmas Story” on TV.
And lastly, there will be no silly arguments about what you can and can’t say. One of the best parts of Christmas in July was going to the local florist shop and asking for a Christmas in July arrangement. They’d never made one so we took a lovely vase full of fragrant summer sunshine (make up your own rules as you go along). The flowers served as the de facto Christmas tree and, believe me, it was a lot easier getting it into the house.
But the girls in the flower shop seemed perfectly charmed when my daughters and I explained the holiday and bid them Merry Christmas in July. One was so tickled, she said she was going to stop by and sing Christmas in July carols. I said she was welcome to do so but Christmas in July meant we didn’t have to answer the door and pretend we were happy with her off-key intrusion.
Wishing people a joyful “Merry Christmas!” in July was the best part of Christmas in July.
They seemed uplifted. For a moment, they could forget about their troubles and remember that once, well, six months ago, there was a time when the mundane greetings of our daily lives were exchanged by something more euphoric.
And because it was so unexpected half-a-year away, it wasn’t freighted with the baggage of all that Christmas in December entails. It didn’t have the pressures, the expenses and traditional obligations.
It was July. It was Christmas. And it was Merry.
I hope next year you circle July 25 on the calendar and remember to give you and your loved ones a little unseasonal treat.
Me, I’ll remain vigilant in looking for ways to bring spiritual improvement to every holiday.
And, remember, only 97 shopping days until April Fool’s Day in November!