Quiet Desperation

Holiday bludgeon can lead to high dudgeon


It is the first of November. I am braced for what is about to happen, against my wishes and against my will.

My belief is that it comes earlier every year as an antidote to reality, as a form of comfort food in the face of the news that, day after day, is harsh and abrasive on our delicate systems, especially mine.

This will be Harry’s first true Christmas. I’ve warned him.

To give you an example: the Hallmark Channel began its uninterrupted Christmas movie marathon last month.

Home shopping channels have had holiday-themed must-haves since September.

Now that Halloween is behind us, and with only Thanksgiving on the horizon, which involves no history of gift exchanges or baleful music, the coast is clear for merchants. mostly, to take over where exasperating political campaigns left off, and inundate every corner with solicitations.

And holiday music. Some of it conducted by chipmunks.

What was once a week, two at the most, of observation and anticipation, has become a quarter of the annum, and God forbid (he said) that you are an atheist, or someone who simply prefers to contemplate certain things very privately.

No. My grocery emporium is loading up with absolutely appalling décor, and I am counting the days until the already awful music is replaced by seasonal music, most of it sounding like an anesthetic.

Some people like it.

The thought that some might not is not a participant.

The majority gets its wish.

But there is one (at least) in every crowd, and I am that one.

There is no subtlety left anywhere.

This is not the United Zen of America.

If you want to hear Andy Williams around every corner, so be it. Even my beloved classical music station will turn on me soon.

If this sounds like Scrooge is afoot, he’s not. Am I a curmudgeon? Yes. Am I a wet blanket? Possibly.

My adage is this, tried and true: “There’s a time and place for everything.”

Understandably, when it comes to money, the lines of distinction are blurred, and what started as a religious holiday has turned into a greedy realm of merchandising, with a playlist that includes Gene Autry and Jimmy Boyd.

Boyd’s recording of “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” was recorded in 1952 when he was only 13.

The record was condemned by the Roman Catholic Church in Boston.

Because it combined kissing with Christmas.

Oh, brother.

Boyd traveled to Boston, met with the Archdiocese, and the ban was lifted.

Whatever subtlety there was in any design, in any event, in any production, is gone.

There is hoopla instead. A football team might enter the field through manufactured fog and fireworks.

There is even a Red Carpet in front of an award for Best Supporting Actor Supporting a Supporting Actor.

There is so much rancor in America right now, and daily events that depress the heart and soul, that relief of any kind is understandable.

However, the bombardment, attending to a majority perception, only adds to the dismay.

Once upon a time, I drank my way through this time of year, and came out of it on the other side. Others do the same. Rehab enrollment spikes in January.

There is a great consolation prize: My favorite author wrote something I read every late December, with unsurpassed character and setting depictions.


Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at craigmarshallsmith@comcast.net.


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