Today, the day-after-Thanksgiving, sitting peacefully in the quietude of this sunny apartment, the hub-sand and child and niece off to the JCC to swim, I am grateful for more things than can possibly be listed here: The relaxing, no-stress day we had yesterday (following an unfortunate last-minute blow-out with my mom that required a quick change of plans); the non-necessity of a long-distance drive; great conversations with my lovely 19-year-old niece; the chance for Jonah to spend time with said lovely niece; a perfect Thanksgiving meal at a restaurant and no dishes to wash; the last sliver of delicious apple crumb pie just polished off; the silky, rub-able bellies of gorgeous, insane kitties; the exuberance, intelligence, and hilarity of my almost seven-year-old; the goodness and understanding and generosity of my betrothed; the wonderfulness of beloved friends and family. Lastly, and not at all leastly, one of the things I feel most grateful for: not feeling compelled to race out on this day (or, God help me, on Thanksgiving evening) and buy, buy, buy a bunch of cheap, plastic crap.
Yes, I’m aware that one of the great and beautiful things about America is our unique and inimitable blend of over-the-top, in-your-face piety and outlandish, crass consumerism.
Nobody does it quite the way we do.
Baby, we’re the best.
Similar to those who prefer the TV and sofa to a live sports event, I enjoy scenes of bargain-hunting rampages via the internet, rather than live in person. Schlock Mart tends to offer the quintessential experience, and opportunities abound to be a distant observer, wallowing pleasantly in schadenfreude. In other words, there are endless videos of these greed fests on Facebook and YouTube. Of course, it’s not the same as being there. I completely miss out on the swear words the cell phone mic failed to pick up, the stench of unbathed bodies, the sensation of a determined elbow jammed into my cheekbone. But I’m content to imagine these details at home, well aware that I’m saving far more money than any Black Friday shopper simply by not buying anything.
Yes, I have some additional shopping to do, but we have never been extravagant about the holidays, and the shopping will get done, and mostly online. We are a two-holiday family (that’s Chanukah and Xmas) and I can’t say I was too chagrined when the little guy asked me a few days ago if Santa really was real. He’s asked before and I’ve managed to skirt the issue, but he wasn’t having any of the “What do you think?” BS this time.
“Santa isn’t a trick that parents play on their kids,” I explained. “We did it to create magic for you.”
“When I was a kid,” I explained further, “we didn’t celebrate Xmas. And I always felt I was missing out. I wanted you to experience it because it’s fun and beautiful and magical. That’s why we pretended there was a Santa Claus, to make it special for you. And you loved it.”
“I think I always knew he was made up,” claimed my child. And while I’ve wondered for some time if kids who believe in Santa really on some level know he’s a fantasy, I don’t think it’s true that Jonah always knew. He most definitely believed in Santa when he was two, for Chrissakes.
But while part of me thinks it’s a shame that Jonah’s discovered the man behind the curtain (Fuck you, Toto), I don’t mind saving the money that would otherwise be spent on gifts from Saint Nick. The holidays are less extravagant affairs this year because, well, money is a bit tight and the kid has so much. The most expensive of all the gifts were tickets to see Blue Man Group, and I only purchased two. They will be wrapped and placed under the Xmas tree as a gift for the lad and his dad, because I am quite certain Blue Man Group would give me a massive headache.
But anyway, like, hallelujah! The holiday season here in the U.S. has finally, finally, had its official start! And I’m here at home alone, missing it all! I wonder how many people last night wolfed down their turkey dinners in order to spit out their thanks and race off to snatch up bargains? It’s one thing to shop for those on your Xmas list, but nothing says “I love you” quite the same way as a gift bought at 40% off retail and seized from the hands of another shopper.
Yesterday, Thanksgiving Day, in the parking lot of a Schlock Mart in Virginia, a man knifed another man in an argument over a parking spot. It’s beautiful, really, that despite the presence of at least one firearm, no one was shot. Instead, the arm of the second man was merely sliced to the bone.
I hope you’ve taken note, Sarah Palin. That’s true Christmas spirit at work.
Photos: Top: © Madpixblue; Bottom: © Arinahabich08; both via Dreamstime.com