Christmas is just hours away. By this time tomorrow, all the presents will have been opened and most families will have concluded their holiday suppers.
As the holiday season reaches its annual peak, I pause and reflect on how this year’s festivities have gone thus far. In most ways, this season has hit the usual high notes and, sadly, some of the same lows. Part of the magic of the season to me is finding new, yet sincere and relatively low-key ways to celebrate.
Low notes include the fact that the Christmas shopping season appeared to begin earlier than ever this year. I thought I saw some holly and wreaths just a few days after we scarfed down hot dogs on the Fourth of July.
I’m kidding — the first Christmas shopping display was probably after Mother’s Day back in May.
A low note that I constantly try to avoid is the trite insincerity of some elements of the holiday. Because everything is so familiar, the desire to create something new or unique can lead me, and others, down some darker paths.
For example, I create an original Christmas card each year for my friends and family. I do it so I can add a personal touch and my patented brand of humor. However, some of my concepts are better left on the drawing board because they don’t ring true.
One year, I had the grand idea to poke fun at the holiday’s consumerism. My concept was to dress up in a gaudy, Cosby-style Christmas sweater and to go to a dining room arrangement at the local IKEA. While the dining room is geared to be an ideal, my posing among the price tags would expose the façade for what it was.
Or something. When I explained my concept to my mother, she asked why I would do that. I said that I thought it would be funny and that was probably all that was needed. After receiving that feedback, I went in a different direction.
When trying to break the mold, sincerity is essential. During the past week, I heard several dozen novelty Christmas songs. Most of them were fun (especially the Bob Rivers’ track “There’s a Santa Who Looks a Lot Like Elvis” set to “It’s Beginning to Look at Lot Like Christmas”), but many seemed dated or hokey.
That brings me to my latest idea — giving a modern take to a Christmas classic song, shifting from the innocence of youth to the side effects of an obese America. That song is, of course, “All I want for Christmas is two less chins.”
On one level, I think the song could be a reflection of where we are today. I don’t think I’m picking on others — I consider myself to be festively plump and would love to be a little thinner.
Asking for this gift from Santa is similar to the young boy’s wish for two front teeth. They are both things that Santa really can’t give, although the boy’s new teeth will eventually emerge. I know, and hopefully others know, that becoming physically fit requires dedicated, personal effort.
There were a couple of flaws to my song concept. One — many people thought I was referring to the family name of “Chin,” and that I wanted to be rid of two such individuals. My quick rebuttal was that anyone who thought that was racist, but it seems like a regrettably easy association to make and I should probably come up with a different take on the song.
Second, I like the phrase and it’s gotten a chuckle from people when I try it out. However, I don’t know if anyone else has used that phrase before. I’m leery to search Google and find that it has already been done, much how like my brilliant idea of the awkwardness of a four-man nude bobsled was already a David Letterman punchline from 1994.
I suppose I can look it up now that I’ve committed my thoughts to digital paper, but I want to savor the possibility that I came up with a slightly novel, mildly amusing twist on an old chestnut.
Trying to come up with something new might amp up the pressure to deliver on an ideal Christmas. While I appreciate adding touches to make Christmas special, people need to be realistic in what they can do.
To paraphrase Otto von Bismarck, Christmas is the art of the possible. The holidays are supposed to be a joyous time of year. If you’re not having fun, maybe you need to change things up.
For me, I’ve got silly Christmas cards and spending time with family. I hope you find whatever makes your holidays merry and bright.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.