Random thoughts on a Monday night...
MERRY BIRTHDAY HAPPY CHRISTMAS!
Every holiday season, I struggle a bit over how to explain Christmas to the Peanut.
Generally speaking, I am wholly unqualified to have this conversation with my daughter. Being somewhat immature and fairly agnostic, I often celebrate Christmas by singing "Happy birthday, Baby Jesus!" all day long and toasting God's only son with a glass of single-malt scotch while acting surprised when opening presents that I've bought for myself.
Ideally, I'd like to deemphasize both the commercial and religious aspects of Christmas. Although I struggle with my own faith, I think it's semi-important to try and frame Christmas in terms of the Nativity and the day that Jesus was born. However, at the age of seven, the only Jesus whom the Peanut knows is the parking garage attendant down the block. Things could get a little confusing. I really need to start taking her to church one of these days.
At the same time, I'd also like to forgo too many discussions about Santa. The Peanut is only seven years old and I'm quite sure that she does not yet need to be concerned about omnipotent mythical father figures making value judgments about her behavior. On the flip side? Pretending to call Santa on my cell phone has stopped many a tantrum in mid-stride.
So to sum up: no religion, light on Santa. What's left?
Essentially, I'd like to convey to her that the true spirit of Christmas is love, peace, and good will towards men. I'd like to explain to her that Christmas is a time of celebrating life with one's friends and family.
And naturally, I have no desire to withold from her all the fun festivities associated with the holiday season: Christmas trees, stockings on the mantel, egg nogg, chocolate Advent calendars, and Santa's cookie plate. Plus, I'll be the first to admit it; I fucking love Christmas music. Little Drummer Boy? I listen to that shit all year round.
It's a fine line, isn't it?
I'm thinking of doing a demonstration with some sock puppets. Or maybe I can find an "Elmo Loves Christmas" DVD. I hate that little red furry bastard but he's been helpful in the past (see "Toilet Training: 2004.") Or maybe there's something on youtube?
Anyone got any good ideas? Help a brother out.
1. Between Michael Pollan and the plethora of food documentaries to which I've become addicted, I can no longer put anything in my mouth unless I know its provenance. Sometimes I open my mouth and I'm shocked to hear myself speak: Are these free-range chickens? Is the fish wild or farm-raised? Are these avocados organic? Is there any gluten in the kale salad? Somewhere in the heavens, my tough-as-nails Korean ancestors are sighing heavily.
2. I have tried to like Kings of Leon many times and have failed. I'm now giving up.
3. Am I the only one who is genuinely surprised to discover that I wasn't the lucky person to win the previous night's lottery?
4. I just bought a crockpot.
1. Thus far, Jeffrey Eugenides' "The Marriage Plot" wins my vote for best book of the year. The “marriage plot” referred to in the title is a term literary theorists use to label novels of courtship; think Jane Austen, Eliot and Anthony Trollope. The protagonist, Madeline Hanna, is writing her college thesis on the subject. Not coincidentally, at the end of the day, this novel is really nothing more than an elegantly-written, old-fashioned story centered around Madeline and her two suitors. They simply don't write books like this anymore. What makes it such an exceptional novel is that Eugenides is a superbly gifted storyteller who writes as if he has nothing to prove and by doing so, shows that he may be the great American writer many have suspected him of being.
2. Overhyped Book of the Year: "The Art of Fielding" by Chad Harbach. All the critics seemed to love this debut novel by one of literary mag N + 1's co-founders and I eagerly awaited its arrival on my doorstep. While brilliant at times, it ultimately disappointed. Was it the underdevelopment of the main characters? Was it the sophomoric portrayal of human relationships? Was it the lack of humor pervading story? I'm not quite sure. Nor do I really care.
3. I have just started Haruki Murakami's "1Q84," his 928-page surreallist novel tackling the themes of murder, history, cult religion, violence, family ties and love. While I am a huge Murakami fan, this one doesn't strike me as a breezy page turner.
4. I'm also reading Spalding Grey's memoirs. Incredibly written but can only be read in short doses. Since we all know how the story ends (suicide,) it's a bit like having lunch with Sylvia Plath every day.
GOOGLE IS MY SANTA CLAUS
Lest one think from my earlier musings that I am some sort of Scrooge or a grinch, I respectfully disagree.
As far as the Peanut is concerned, there really is a Santa Claus and he is solely responsible for all those magical presents that miraculously appear underneath the tree on Christmas morning. I cherish every single moment with my daughter but there are few things that make me as happy as seeing her beautiful face light up with glee when she wakes up on Christmas morning and runs to the tree to see what Santa has brought her.
Every year, I have the Peanut write a letter to Santa explaining why she's been a good kid and what she would like for Christmas.
This year, her list includes a karaoke machine, Paper Jamz, Zoobles, Polly Pocket, Arthur Christmas, Air Swimmers, Sing-A-Ma-Jigs, and a Doggie Doo.
Aside from the karaoke machine, I literally have no fucking idea what the hell she is talking about. It's like she's speaking a foriegn language. Suddenly I'm having flashbacks to being a little kid and seeing the blank expressions on my immigrant parents' faces when I endlessely blathered on about Coleco game machines, Brite-Lites, Masters of the Universe action figures, Gobots, and a Rubik's Cube. How could they not know about these things?
Part of me wants to pay it forward by just getting her a full set of Encyclopedia Britannica, a $20 bill, and a new Mighty-Mac jacket.
On the flip side, my daughter has me wrapped me around her little finger so my Amazon shopping cart is already locked and loaded.
There really is a Santa Claus.