Friday, December 24, 2021

Bah Humbug?

I don't celebrate holidays - any of them - or my birthday. And I've spent years trying to figure out why.
As I've written a number of times, my intuition and impulses are very reliable, but my brain is dim and slow and grabby. Brain needs a clear explanation, or else it makes a noisy fuss, generating lots of stress. You are overhearing, on this Slog, my stupid brain laboriously deconstructing the inclinations of my smart intuition. I'm explaining me to me, and it's been gratifying to discover that there are usually good rationales, because, frankly, I've always harbored profound doubts about this guy.

I find awards for showbiz figures offensive. No segment of any society has ever been as over-celebrated as American entertainers. We even call them "celebrities". And while I don't begrudge their success, the last thing they need is extra tribute. I mean, Jesus Christ.

Celebration of Christmas and Mardi Gras and birthdays were a whole other thing in the meager before-times, when these constituted your only break; your sole relief from the grind of daily physical labor. You spent every day of your life looking forward to such brief pinnacles of high-spirited levity. For a precious few hours there was respite from slaving away for the warlord or land baron or King, and it was all about sweet enjoyment for you and your family. There was a time when the phrase "days off" could make one nearly weep with joy.

But in a wealthy, comfortable modern society where even our supposed "working poor" are unspeakably rich and nobody ever stops considering their own enjoyment for a second, and we have weekends and Monday federal holidays and coffee breaks and work-from-home and sabbaticals, vacations, and "funemployment", the last thing we need is another ginned-up excuse to festoon ourselves with yet more specialness and enjoyment.

Without drudge, there can be no lift. As holiday season rolls around and the music cranks up and the lights go on, those of us past childhood can't avoid a certain weariness. The bloom's off the rose, and we feel a bit hustled into canned celebrative gestures. It’s all a bit of a bore, but we keep it up for the kids. In 1848, it wouldn’t have bored anyone but the loftiest aristocrat. But now we’re all Mrs. Howell.

My mechanic, who is skilled, kind, and honest, deserves an award. Instead, we reward celebrities...over and over and over. And there are still places where people need holidays and birthdays. But us? We're too jaded to properly appreciate them. Like a Golden Globe for Leonardo DiCaprio, it’s just another trophy to toss in the cabinet.

In fact, many of us feel dejected by our failure to properly experience holiday transcendence amid the glorious comforts of modern life here in The Future. The institution does more harm than good at this point. Truth is, as I sit in absolute secure comfort - no marauding bandits thirsty to smash my skull, no wild animals poised to break in and eat my loved ones, no risk of dying of infection from paper cuts, and with the entirety of human art, entertainment, and knowledge (plus infinite global video communications) available on a slab of glass in my pocket, as I recline on a comfortable couch in front of a modern TV sipping a delicious drink in my temperature and humidity-controlled home of perfect comfort, its fridge stocked with ridiculously cheap and totally un-tainted food, all while perfect strangers stand ready to make sacrifices to help me not die (drivers will literally pull over to allow a special medical truck to rush me to hospital as the top civic priority, like I was Julius Freaking Caesar) - I honestly don't know what I'd possibly want to transcend.

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