Mixed Christmas Feelings at Middle Age

This has been a strange Christmas for me. There hasn’t been any drama, which is nice. There were no big family Christmas gatherings and the pressure therein- which is also nice. Also, on a more internal note – I think this may be the first Christmas in my life where I didn’t want anything. I’ve been able to provide myself with most of what I want materially – within reason -I mean, I admit it, I’d still like a nice yacht in a Mediterranean port and to own a beach house somewhere – I still have a bucket list of travel destinations and experiences – but in terms of the kind of stuff you get for Christmas – I’m good. My dad sent a little cash which helped with holiday expenses and my wife bought me a few goodies to feel guilty snacking on – other than that – I can’t say there was anything on my wish list. Having a four-year-old – Christmas has been more about figuring out what would make her happy and also finding a way to get my wife a present she would love. I think I succeeded on both counts.

I’m not a Christian – though I think Jesus was a pretty wise teacher who deserves an international holiday devoted to love and tolerance and peace – so I’m cool with the holiday. I don’t go to church (since I’m not a Christian) so that isn’t a part of our tradition – in truth – we are building our traditions – on Christmas Eve, I bought us all new pajamas which we opened and I made chowder two years in a row. On Christmas day, we woke up and watched Sophia open up all her gifts which we gave Santa most of the credit for – and now I start to move into the reason I am feeling a bit of discontent – her gifts were generally expensive crap! I bought her a $40 kids doctor kit and it was packaged nicely and looked like a good quality toy – not so – once out of the package it was so much easily broke plastic crap. The beginning sewing kit was like the leftovers from a yard sale in a pretty cardboard lunch box. The painting set has so little paint in it that we’ll be lucky if it lasts three sessions. None of these were cheap! Except to produce. The fancy kids tablet her grandparents got her is a great idea but burns through batteries like no tomorrow and has a super slow processor which doesn’t do much more than a 2007 smart phone – actually it does considerably less – and if you want to get any games or apps for it – the cartridges and downloads are $25 each or more…her best gifts in my opinion were a wood puzzle and multiple pairs of socks and underwear. She was ecstatic at each gift which made me happy but the quality of these things – it soured my mood. Not because of the money I spent – but because of the trickery of the packaging and products. What happened to quality products and standing behind them? I should know better – customer service has been outsourced to 3rd world nations where poor workers are taught to say “I’m sorry sir, I will file a complaint for you” and if you choose to rant and rave only say the same thing again – and no, there is not a resolution ever.

I didn’t know what to do today. I took a couple of walks. I took a drive. I surfed the net and watched an old Jerry Lewis movie about an alien coming to Earth – I feel like I’m the alien. I heard a pretty interesting interview with Dick Van Dyke on NPR while I was driving. He’s 90 now – he said the world is Orwellian but instead of the governments having control – it’s the corporations – then he said he’s going to Disneyland for his 90th birthday – he called it his home country.

Man, this society we live in – it makes it hard to find peace. It makes it hard to be content. It makes it hard to have an internal human revolution. On the up side – I don’t want anything. On the downside – I want more for my daughter than apps that offer in game purchases and plastic toys that don’t work. I feel very fortunate to have a wonderful family and to not be in need of anything. I feel blessed. I feel so fortunate to not be a refugee, not be being tortured, not be starving or freezing or imprisoned by an unfair and unjust system. My health and my family’s health are blessings. Everyone should be able to have these simple things. Everyone should be so lucky. Most are not. I’m not sure if that’s part of what is under my skin today or not…

Merry Christmas Friends. Merry Christmas.