So, as the holiday season descends, on the one hand, like an anvil on her head–and, on the other, like a sweet, sparkly spirit–Broke-Ass Grouch finds herself, likewise, riven.
Here’s the thing: Broke-Ass loves Christmas. In spite of all her deeply held Judeophiliac tendencies and loyalties, Broke-Ass crumbles to fairy dust around this time of year–it’s mainly the sight of all the pretty things that does it. She knows this renders her an utterly superficial and unreliable friend of the Tribe; this makes her ashamed.
Still…Christmas trees! Hauling the weathered outdoor foliage inside and transforming it into something cozy and shimmery and homey! Pretty, iced cookies in quaint, homespun shapes! Stockings hiding trinkets and treasures! Candles in windows! But it’s also Christmas carols–so unabashedly glorious and declarative! And the stories and poems–at once poignant and celebratory! Come on. It’s a hell of a holiday.
But, from a Broke-Ass point of view, it also, of course, sucks. Stating the obvious: the major cause of the endorphin high of the season is the frantic buying of stuff. And let’s be honest: Most of us love the frantic buying of stuff because it’s fun. People grouse about the mosh-pit in the men’s sweater department at Macy’s, but the unalloyed abundance of beautiful stuff, the collective rush of consumption, and the splendor of the Christmas retail gestalt is pretty darned irresistible. At this time of year, we all live at the crack corner of Vegas and Redemption, brothers and sisters. And it kind of rocks.
What really makes the season’s activities like main-lining the holiday spirit, though, is that it’s all about the children. The children! It is our duty to see that our children are overwhelmed by the glory of the excess of stuff! Broke-Ass is not being a facetious, finger-wagging asshole here–she totally sees this as her duty. To engulf the children in the majesty of all things egregiously sparkly and otherwise unattainable is kind of the point of Christmas. Even the Homemade Heavy-Weight Champion, Laura in Little House on the Prairie, remembers that the coolest thing about the first Christmas out there on the barren tundra was that Pa bought them specially-processed white sugar–not the cheapo, crummy brown kind that any lame pioneer could make. The expensive, processed white sugar is what that wholesome icon wanted. And she lived in the middle of NOWHERE.
So, can you blame city schmushkies like Baby Poodle and, to a slightly lesser extent, Little Mousie for wanting expensive, processed things for Christmas–especially when they already live at little house in the ghetto? Broke-Ass can’t. Luckily, Broke-Ass somehow had the foresight back when she was rich to convey to Baby Poodle and Little Mousie that Santa Claus was not just some catalog that you could order stuff from. Santa Claus was, rather, a special sort of fatherly spirit who had insight into your character and M.O.; he gave things that he felt would inspire you.
This, in hindsight, was an excellent move. Since Baby Poodle and Little Mousie never had the idea that they were in a position to demand things of Santa Claus, they only felt a little misunderstood by him when they got something they didn’t think was that good. That something, however, was always obviously not a homemade item–or if it was homemade, it was made by someone who made that thing for a living and was really good at it, not something homemade by someone who had to make things by hand because she couldn’t afford to buy anything else. Someone like their mother, for example.
So, what to do? You can say all the crap about homemade gifts are the best and kids learn lessons and all that, but Baby Poodle and Little Mousie have–like children all around this country and world–learned a lot of those lessons already. Christmas should be different. This is why, thank God, Broke-Ass can rely on grandparents and aunties and uncles to send the essential glitz: the Old Navy gift-card, the jewelry-making kit, the store-bought leg warmers.
Thank you, thank you, extended family for not sending books and educational items. Thank you, thank you for the specially processed white sugar. From the bottom of my heart. God bless us, every one.