It’s becoming as clear as the nose on Rudolph the Reindeer’s face. The Christmas season is here.
Never mind what happened in Bethlehem over 2,000 years ago, let’s talk about what happened in Des Moines, Iowa, last weekend. Sculptor Sarah Pratt carved a full Nativity scene out of giant blocks of butter. Created for a local charity, Pratt said she wanted to show the Holy Family “desperate and lost,” like many troubled families today. She called it her “most reflective work yet,” at least until it starts to melt.
This seemingly obscure event may just have been the tipping point in a debate America has been having for a while now. The time may finally have come that everyone agrees: we have to cancel Christmas.
People have long complained about the commercialization of Christmas (and the pasteurization of butter, for that matter) and how it was perverting the true meaning of the holiday. But we continued the orgy of excess anyway, even expanding it so that decorations start appearing in the stores in October. During eight weeks of build-up to the big day, we spend a few minutes here and there appreciating our families and worshiping our Lord, but the rest of the time we’re standing in line at Target or falling-down drunk.
Every year, we say “next year will be different,” and so finally, this year it is. There will be no Christmas.
What’s the big loss? Some may point to the struggling economy, and say that all those retail sales are needed to stave off a double-dip recession. Don’t think God doesn’t agree that the unemployment rate is too high, though He is confident the November numbers being released this week will show upwards of 95,000 private-sector jobs created last month. Think, however, of all the extra productivity America’s work force can create when it isn’t stuffed full of holiday treats. It more than makes up for the positive economic impact of having Dad the Temp work two months of five-hour shifts dressed up as Santa.
This would be a good year to start the end of Christmas because Dec. 25 falls on a Saturday. People who still wanted to celebrate could do so in silence behind blackout curtains since they’d still have the day off from work. But they’re going to be much less likely to spend three straight days in church (Christmas Eve through Sunday). After that much time in prayer, they’d be way too good for the rest of us anyway.
There should be positive effects on the environment. Mountains of waste that only days before represented the excitement of gift-giving — and I’m talking here about not only the discarded wrapping paper and bows but also the useless crap inside — won’t be clogging our landfills. There’ll be no holiday travel burning up trillions of tons of gasoline. The accelerated global warming seen in large areas of the Arctic will be lessened when Santa and his factory elves are put out of work and forced into refugee camps in Finland’s federally-administered tribal areas.
Children will probably be hurt the most, at least those in the U.S. receiving their manufactured trinkets if not those in China who are assembling them. We can still give our kids something to set their hearts soaring as they race to where the Christmas tree would’ve been on that magical morning. Give them a book to read. Your local library has thousands of these they’re willing to give away.
Let it be noted that this decree does not cover New Year’s Eve, which can be celebrated as usual as long as I’m invited to the party.
As for the giant buttery Nativity scene, it’s already been made so we might as well let the people of Iowa enjoy looking at it. It’s on display in a cooler at the headquarters of the Des Moines Catholic Diocese, and could conceivably be kept edible and vaguely reminiscent of a jaundiced Joseph, Mary and Jesus until Easter. If someone will then cook a giant cross-shaped pancake, we won’t have to consider the Christmas season a complete loss.