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Tuesday, December 11, 2012
If you're old enough, you've probably heard from other people that there's no Santa Claus. I'm 42 myself, so it's been some time since I learned it. But the truth about Santa is more amazing than you realize. Are you ready to know the whole story?
Santa Claus is one of the oldest and largest secret conspiracies which has ever existed anywhere. Countless generations throughout the centuries have worked to keep it alive and pass it on to their kids. And the result is that every year in homes around the world, on the same night, millions of parents perform a complex, coordinated ritual of laying out cookies, milk, reindeer food... of putting their kids to bed and waiting until they are sure they're asleep, even those older ones who are sharp and suspicious. Then they pull treasure from closets and attics and hidden places. They use a certain kind of wrapping paper. They throw boxes away carefully. They write notes and leave footprints in the snow.
No one has to give the signal. No one holds a rehearsal. No one has to make sure it all happens again in 12 months. Moms and dads have learned it from their parents. Aunts, uncles and friends tell stories to keep it alive. A large portion of the human race makes this happen each Christmas Eve, and all of it is like, well, magic.
You don't have to believe in elves or rooftop landings. You don't have to accept anything that isn't right in front of you. And the heart of it is this: That we are here to love one another. That our most important job is to help the people around us build a life in this world. That the best we can ever hope to accomplish in our short time here is to someday be someone's happy memory. Parents know this. And so do couples and friends and anyone holding anyone else's hand under our shared and difficult circumstances.
And so without ever meeting each other we work together in the night to make it seem like some supernatural creature is travelling miraculously fast on a dazzling, impossible errand. And as dawn breaks across the time zones a world full of children believe. And someday, each of them will ask us about it. We will, of course, tell them the truth.
"Welcome," we'll say. "You've become one of us. The secret keepers and gift givers. It starts now. It starts today. You will spend the rest of your life doing wonderful things."
Monday, December 10, 2012
Don't you get the feeling this is wrong? That we've lost our way as a culture somehow? The season should be an opportunity to connect with your kids and teach them to really care about others instead of treating every relationship like it's a creepy transaction. And instead you say, "Look, it's Sprinkles. He's going to watch you for the next month. You'd better do what we say so someone can shove Far Cry 3 into your fat little hands and let you can spend the week after Christmas sitting in front of a screen pretending to murder people."
I don't know what's more disturbing: The fact that you're teaching your children to link greed with morality or the freaky comfort you all now have with an authority figure monitoring you.
You've put me on this shelf to be a dead-eyed symbol of all that's wrong with post-9/11 America. We're going to follow you now to make sure you've been good. And the best thing you can do to show you're good is to go to the mall or online, continue to buy things, and don't think about whether we can afford to live the way we do. Don't think about what that makes us. Just. Keep. Shopping. And raise your children to look at the world in the exact same way. Eventually you get something like me - an advertiser's gimmick to monetize the magic of Santa. To turn it into a must-buy item that encourages more must-buy items.
I shouldn't be here. I shouldn't be part of this. I sit up here watching you collect things and gripe about each other, swapping plastic crap that you will break or lose by St. Patrick's Day.
Peace on earth, good will to men. That's supposed to mean something. O'Reilly talks about the war on Christmas, but there's been a war on that little idea since the beginning. But you don't even think about this, do you?
I'm totally going to climb down from here and kill you in your sleep.