December 21 - December 27, 1995

Cheap Thrills

SIMPLE PLEASURES: I know many who cheered the Grinch's abduction from his midtown home. And even my dear aunt, though outwardly lamenting Santa's removal from El Con Mall after anonymous death threats came down, responded to my uncle's chuckling by admitting, "...well, not that we all haven't thought about it from time to time."

According to my sources, alleged anti-Santa Kem Mansager isn't the only one with a personal vendetta against Christmas. He seems to be the unwelcome apparition of Christmas present. Leave it to the psychopaths to get right to the point.

Commercialism has unleashed a Yuletidal wave of cynicism in the Old Pueblo, and I can't help wondering if the trailing donations to Toys for Tots and the Salvation Army aren't the unintended casualties.

I have one request of you, dear reader: Snap out of it! I'm not asking you to don that Christmas sweater sporting Rudolph with a battery-powered red nose, tie a wreath on your vehicle and drive around town shouting "God bless us every one!" out the window; but I implore you to unabashedly celebrate the holidays with a humble appreciation for something and someone.

...Like those people outside the supermarket who spend Saturdays roasting chiles in the big, rotating drums; the guys who sell homemade red and green tamales outside of Bookman's; and the kids from Carrillo Intermediate School who reenact the traditional Las Posadas processional each year by parading through the streets of our historic downtown barrios.

...Or like a runner I know who, for years, would step gingerly out of bed at 4 a.m. Christmas morning. In the darkness he'd jog through the neighborhood under a yoke of sleigh bells, delighting in the children he imagined waking up, bleary-eyed, to the unmistakable sound of Santa's departure.

Holidays are nothing if not the perpetuation of favorite stories; of behaving ourselves like our favorite characters; in short, of the triumph of imagination over logic.

Even Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy (and it's genetically impossible to be more cynical than a Russian novelist), writes of an errant angel sent to Earth to learn three lessons: "I learned what is given to men is love, to dwell in the heart; what is not given to men is to know their own needs...and what men live by is not care of oneself, but by love for one another."

Our gift at Christmas is that we celebrate what marketing teams and ad campaigns have never been able to capture: our humanity.

Happy Holidays.

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December 21 - December 27, 1995

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