Spending my holidays with my family..and a cold. Picked up a few unwanted presents on Saturday, namely a sore throat and runny nose, so I'm medicating that. Plus, I'm rebounding from a stomach flu from last week. Anyway, I'm drinking tea and eating nominally and taking it easy. I did manage to play with my cousin's kid last night. Kids have an infinite amount of energy and can function hyperactively for hours. The kid was literally into everything and scampering around the house, tormenting the cat, and switching off the Christmas tree lights. Anyway, it's good to be with family during the holidays.
I recently watched a few holiday classics: Miracle on 34th Street, A Christmas Story and It's A Wonderful Life. I think Hollywood will never make a great Christmas movie again. Those three are completely perfect in expressing humanity and putting life in perspective. Each one uses Christmas as a way to say something greater about us, about the need to reach out and touch the lives of others and to embrace families and those around us. Kris Kringle, Ralphie and George Bailey are three different characters speaking with individual voices, but through each of them you get a few distinct messages: imagination, preservation of youth and memories past and doing the right thing for your fellow humans. Today's crass commercialism and the bullshit tug-of-war over "Keeping Christ in Christmas" these intrinsic things espoused by these movies gets lost. We're left a lot colder and hollow this time of year instead of filled with a sense of compassion and compelled towards goodwill. We're left thinking about material needs and social battles instead of uniting in charity and love and sharing the warmth of a fire or a hearty meal with those closest or not so close to us. We're shouted at about secularization, the ludicrousness of "holiday trees" and "happy holidays" from Christians who do anything but turn the other cheek. We're left with comparisons of the Grinch and Scrooge instead of Jesus, who wanted people to love their enemies and be more charitable and just. Does it matter that Christmas originated as a pagan festival of Yule, celebrating the winter solstice, the darkest time of year, when people gathered together to stay warm? Maybe the true warmth of this time of year is coming together and sharing the love of family and friends and celebrating making it through another year. Life's too short to argue about petty political talking points. It's about what Kris Kringle, Ralphie and George Bailey went through in their travails - learning that people matter. They really do, and the older you get you realize how the family you couldn't stand when you were a teenager, the idiot neighbor or the stranger you bump into on the subway actually are a part of you and have value and worth. Knowing this, and realizing we're all sharing a one-way ride on this spinning planet should fill you with humility, compassion and a newfound respect for life.