Here we are, catching a few quiet hours before heading out for Chinese food with relatives. The best part of this recent tradition of ours is being surrounded by all the other non Christians on this day of days. If you could take the commerce out of Christmas, I would find it a far more meaningful holiday. The relentless push to consume and then gift often leaves me with a lot of empty feelings. Stirring appetites for more stuff, when many have so much already, seems absurd. How to manage all these existential feelings? It's almost unAmerican not to shop. During my brief stint at the mall the focus was to sell. There was never any discussion about whether anyone really needed any of this stuff- those quandaries were a distraction from the purpose of getting people to buy. This has to be one of the saddest aspects of our modern world, where consuming has become the way we define who we are and give our lives value.
Years back, when I was in the throes of making greeting cards, I created all kinds of images in the pursuit of a holiday expression. One December, while craving children of my own, my niece Perry was kind enough to pose with me as my imaginary daughter. This morning, my teenaged son refused to get up and open presents, eat breakfast or join us for our outing to the movies because as of this year, he hates Christmas. So, in this aspect of the family narrative, it's important to keep the illusions at bay. I was annoyed that he didn't want to join in, but then again, you can't make someone embrace something that feels counter to their true selves. If only Madison Avenue would consider that.