Christmas was never my thing. I wouldn't go so far as to call myself a Grinch, Scrooge or even just a hater, but except when my oldest daughter was young, the holiday got little more than an indifferent shrug from me. But over the past year or two, I'm suddenly getting into the spirit. Part of it is having small children again, but part of it is just the simple fact that Christmas is getting weirder -- and if there's one thing I love, it's weird.
See also: A Geek's Guide to the Holidays: Gremlins, "Christmas at Ground Zero" and Other Goodies
I suppose that Christmas has always had its weird side, but it seems like that weirdness has begun to creep into the mainstream over the past few years -- or maybe I just took notice of it. Now, all of a sudden, I can have my Christmas my way, and not be tied to the same shitty Christmas music, sappy Christmas movies and horrible Christmas traditions that always turned me off to the holiday before.
Take movies, for example. If I never see another Rankin-Bass holiday special again, it'll be too goddamned soon. Okay, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer has like four good minutes across its torturous 55-minute run-time (the dentist elf and the abominable snowman, in case you're wondering), but the rest of that shit is just awful. Same with Miracle on 34th Street (original and remake), It's a Wonderful Life and all the other old chestnuts. I've enjoyed the newer "classics" a time or two -- Christmas Vacation, A Christmas Story and even Love Actually -- but they get old fast, thanks to the reliance on the same tired themes and trite cliches that drag down the real oldies.
These days, I don't have to mess with any of that nonsense. I've got Die Hard and Gremlins and Rare Exports and Mystery Science Theater 3000's takedown of Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. I could even watch A Nightmare Before Christmas if I didn't find it so goddamn boring (love the idea, but the execution puts me right to sleep). Still, avoiding the treacly bullshit that typifies most Christmas movies, swapping that for murderous monsters, terrorist takedowns and sheer WTFery while staying in the proper holiday spirit? It's a goddamned Christmas miracle!
It doesn't hurt at all that here in Denver I can actually do a bunch of those things in public with like-minded freaks and geeks.
My tree isn't decorated with just generic shiny balls and annoying tinsel. Because I am blessed beyond all imagining, my wife has tracked down handmade wire spider ornaments and I can find stuff like these sweet zombie ornaments without breaking a sweat. I can party it up with a dominatrix and burlesque dancers and a Christmas demon at Krampus Nacht. I can ignore the birth of Jesus and focus instead on the miracle of Nicolas Cage, plastering the Facebook page of my friend (and fellow Westword writer) A.H. Goldstein with a new ridiculous picture for all the many days of Cagemas, all in recognition of all the late nights we spent together at our college paper years ago, when we would bask in the majestic radiance of Cage YouTube videos when we should have been proofreading so we could go the fuck home.
In other words, I've realized that I'm not bound by the Christmas traditions of others. The ludicrous, commercialized, garish nonsense that offended my sensibilities can be swapped for garish, ludicrous, less commercialized nonsense tailored to my own sensibilities. And the weird thing is, this has made me appreciate the traditional stuff a little more. Not for me, mind you -- I'll still cut you if you try to play any version of "White Christmas" in my presence, much less feed me that disgusting eggnog goop. But for you ... sure. Christmas is fun when it means something to you, and finding a way to make it mean something to me has made it a lot easier for me to appreciate what it means to everyone else. So, yeah, I'll be watching the '80s slasher Black Christmas while most everyone else is watching A Charlie Brown Christmas, and my tree is covered in zombies, spiders and elder gods instead of tinsel, gingerbread and angels. And that's great.
Regardless of the details, we're all celebrating with our families, making memories and sharing rituals that mean something to us, and taking a moment to appreciate the fact that we've all made it through another year on this crazy, fucked-up planet. That's what really matters, rather than the specifics of the holiday, and finding my own way to appreciate that has made me understand the same way Scrooge's ghosts helped him get it. So merry Christmas, happy holidays, joyous Saturnalia, sweet solstice and a pleasant whatever else you might be embracing this year. Whether you go weird or not, I hope your holidays are wonderful.
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Find me on Twitter, where I tweet about geeky stuff and waste an inordinate amount of time: @casciato.