It's the eve of Christmas Eve as I write this, a shadow eve. I spent it wrapping these things that up until a few hours ago were just merchandise. Now they are singular things, dressed in fine disguises, along with a bubble of promise that the recipient will grin and exclaim and be better, and gladly so, for having it.
A powerful thing, Christmas. It's not exactly what it seems to be. It seems to be about money. But underlying even the most venally motivated purchase in the frantic atmosphere of a store filled with secret Santas rummaging and overturning goods, buying something so as not to leave someone ungifted or buying something because so-and-so may be buying you an expensive gift and you don't want to look like a skunk at the potlatch, no offense to skunks, or even not buying something because it's too expensive for the likes of so-and-so—-underlying all that is the practice of giving, which we learn at some point as kids, having received and received for years, and now we bring our own wad of bills down to the marketplace and roam the aisles like neophyte SITs (Santas in Training), picking up this, putting down that, picking it up again, shlepping it around for now until you find something better, which maybe you do--the perfect thing that you know so-and-so will take pleasure in. You can even picture her grin, and maybe the hug afterwards. And even if you take reflected pleasure in her pleasure because it reflects well on you, hey, you've taken one step further toward earning your beard.
To shore up this posturing, as if I, a Jew, knew more than bupkis about Christmas, I open the little window today to reveal a card from my friends Pat and Dave down in snowless Orlando:
And with it they added this sentient sentiment:
"Fake snow, fake dog, fake urn, fake wall, fake sky, fake rosy cheeks -- but real, actual, heartfelt season's greetings!"
Thanks to them and pleasant surprises to you all.