By “the Spirit of the Season” I, of course, mean loot. I hope you get loot this year. That’s what I’m saying.
“But wait a minute,” you say very ungrammatically. Unlike the way I talk. Or write, even. “The “Spirit of the Season” is peace and love and the Baby Jesus and stuff like that.” Good thought for you but wrong. Thanks for playing, though. Loot is what the season is all about. Even the Baby Jesus scored some loot. Gold, frankincense and myrrh, the original not-quite-well-thought-out Christmas presents. I guess they didn’t have itchy sweaters then. (“It’s real wool you say? That would explain the smell. Hand knitted by a blind Peruvian craftsman? That would explain the color choices. No, no, I love it. Really. I got you McDonald’s gift certificates. Hope you like 'em.”) This probably gave rise to the age old lie: It’s the thought that counts.
You’d think being Wise Men, old Balthazar, Gaspar and Fritz (Bible trivia: Not his real name, but the name he liked to go by. It was stitched on his bowling shirt.) would have done better in the gift department. They were guys though. They should have let their wives pick out the gifts. Then Baby Jesus would have gotten a binky and some nappies and a fuzzy purple elephant that squeaked when you squeezed it. Much better gifts for a baby that was sleeping in a stable. If they brought their wives along with them, they (the wives) probably would have run off that damned drummer boy, much to Mary’s relief. She had to kick an ox and some sheep out of the way to drop her kid in a barn (“Hey Jesus! Close that door, will ya? What were you born in a barn?” “Yes mother, as it happens I was born in a barn.”) all because Joe couldn’t call ahead for reservations, and here was this punk kid pah rum pum pum pum-ing all over the place. He was lucky not to get a load of myrrh right up the patootie.
Still, you see that? Gifts. The basis of the whole she-bang. That’s why Christmas is when it is. Really. There was this perfectly good holiday just lying around and bang, zoom it gets co-opted to Christmas. “Hey, look,” old timey Pagans would say. (But then you’d be hip deep in Pagans then. They didn’t have a good religion yet to Pag against.) “The Sun didn’t poof out on us! Have a gift!” “Wow,” said early Christians. “I wanna get in on the loot. From now on Saturnalia is Christmas and I get loot too.” Thus unfolds the majesty that is History. Nicely wrapped with a pretty bow. The stick on kind that you can peel off the gifts and stick in your hair to be extra festive.
The whole month is a festive gift-giving extravaganza. Which is nice. Loot out the wazoo. With cookies.
Not only is there the Main Event, Christmas itself, but also Christmas Eve, which exists solely as the Night Before Christmas. It’s Christmas overflow. If you want to be all traditional, Christmas can ooze out to twelve days (like the song: Santa Clause is Coming to Town). Plus Christmas Eve, that’s thirteen days. But wait! There’s more! As an extra added bonus, I’ll throw in St. Nicholas Day. At no extra charge to you.
St. Nicholas might look like Santa Claus, and some people might feel he’s a legitamate replacement for Santa Claus, but the cold, hard truth is: He ain’t Santa Claus. He’s different. Once again, organized religion grabs a perfectly nice Pagan tradition and claims it as its own. Like a junkyard dog busting in and peeing all over something you wouldn’t want a junkyard dog to pee all over. St. Nick already has a gig. He’s the Patron Saint of Theives. Go ahead, look it up. Which is kinda odd in itself. The Patron Saint of Thieves, indeeed. God Himself said, and I quote: “Don’t steal stuff.” (Which got prettied up when the Bible came out.) And then some Pope, working as God’s mouthpiece said “Thieves, you guys that go and steal stuff, you’re all going to Hell, but here’s St. Nicholas, he’s your Patron Saint and he’ll watch out for you.” Go figure.
Nick’s just moonlighting when he tries to muscle in on Santa’s turf. I guess he’s just covering his ass in case of staff cuts. They got St. Christopher and St. George already. Sometimes you have to look to the future. He could take a lateral shift and become the Patron Saint of Day Trading, but even saints have standards.
There are so many conflicting, confusing traditions around Christmas. Some of the songs are confusing too. “Good King Wencelsenselslaus” takes place on “the Feast of Steven”, but it’s a Christmas song. Waffles aren’t particularly Christmassy, but “Were We Go A-Waffling”. Maybe we just can’t make up our minds about whether to get the scarf or the pretty pin. And there are “Twelve Days of Christmas” (starting Christmas Day and going through Epiphany, when the Wise Guys finally made their apperance at the stable with their bad gifts). Do you only get one partrige inna pear tree, or do you get one every day? So you’d have twelve partriges and forty golden rings by the end? And do you have to supply your own pear tree, or is it bundled in with the gift? (And in a non-Christmas song, you know the farmer that had a dog? And Bingo was his name-o? Is “Bingo” the name of the farmer, or the farmer’s dog? Discuss, and show your work on a separate piece of paper.)
So what I’m saying is: Christmas is for everybody. Give the Baby Jesus a cookie and have done with him. Stick with the basics. A pretty tree (which is a Pagan symbol anyway, no need to call it a Hannuka Bush) and loot. The real Spirit of Christmas.
Bob bless us, one and all.