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Happy Holidays.

Clearly I am not Christian because I said “Happy Holidays” and not “Merry Christmas”. Can you believe the religious people actually got pissed at Wal Mart of all Holy Retailers for putting “happy holidays” in their ads instead of “merry xmas”? Like Muslim or Jewish people don’t shop at Wal Mart? C’mon. And what about all us non-theist people?

Wow. This just goes to further my belief that religion is the cause of all wars. I mean, of all the fights to pick this holiday season, let’s pick on Wal Mart for saying “happy holidays” to people on tv. Now I like Wal Mart about as much as I like wearing sandpaper underwear, but really….if anyone caters to the religious masses in this world, it is Wal Mart. Is nothing good enough for you people?

The official HolySmith stance on religion is that it should be a personal thing, conducted internally, whatever it is. It should be sacred to you, yourself, and you. I don’t push mine on you and you don’t push yours on mine. I don’t need the rituals, the meetings, the masses, or the boy-raping men in robes. All I need is what I feel, think, and live, and I don’t have to be made to feel out of place if I don’t know your ritual or beliefs. . . Just know that I respect them, whatever they are (until you do something stupid in the name of your religion – then you go on the idiot list).

And now about this Xmas thing. Never has there been a religious meaning in this holiday for me. Recently, I have taken heat for my lack of Xmas “spirit”. I can’t help it that I don’t get all stoked about it anymore. I used to. I try to. But something is missing. Some think the source of it is that I am not with all my family around the holiday. That’s part of it. Some think it is because I worked on the front lines of retail hell for many years. Some think I am just an asshole. While there is some truth in each of these, I think I know the underlying cause of my lack of holiday spirit. Read on.

We were in Colorado just before Thanksgiving and the first day there, it snowed. Big, fat flakes of snow came dumping down on us. It was quite nice to see that since we don’t get snow here in Tempe much. While I was giddy to be in a snow storm just for the fact that it was snowing and that is a rare treat anymore, I realized that suddenly I felt like I was “in the xmas spirit”. That was the trigger, and I don’t get that in Arizona. People paint their rocks white to simulate snow for decoration. Sad.

Now, boo-hoo — I know what you’re thinking — it’s warm in the desert, so be happy. Most people would kill for that. I came here. I love it. It rules, really. You can’t beat wearing shorts at xmas time. My windows are open right now, in fact. It’s great. But one of the side effects of living in places where it gets cold and snows around xmas is that you use the weather as a trigger. Sounds dumb, but it is the truth.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that was the issue for me. I feel like I could go somewhere like Denver and suddenly be all noel-ish. Crazy, but it’s true. It also explains why I haven’t felt “in the spirit” since I moved here in 1998.

As for the not seeing my family, that’s still part of the issue, but I do have my wife’s family. But I realized, too, that one of my xmas triggers growing up was that we always had to pack up the car and drive somewhere for xmas. We don’t do that here, so I don’t have that trigger, either. That might come back when we have kids, since I will be the grouchy dad who has to figure out how the hell to fit 7000 toys into the back of a ’73 Javelin with two boys and a wife. Ahh, xmas.

So, there’s weather, family, the whole “I still can’t stand retail during the holidays” thing. Another thing is that I love to give. It is more comfortable for control freaks to be the givers. But, with the lack of disposable funds for the past few years, it hasn’t been fun at all because I don’t feel like I can give the way I want to give. They say it is the thought that counts, so hopefully all the friends and family who don’t get gifts from me this year will understand that I have been thinking about this for a long time, and one day it will all come around, the way I want it to happen.

Shopping for presents is kind of fun when you are doing it for certain people, but it kind of sucks having to do it for others. For some people, you just know what they want and what would put a smile on their face. For others, you have no idea and you feel like an ass giving them whatever you got them. You know it and they know it, but you pretend it is all good either way. How dumb. That is one of those feelings that sucks ass. But you can’t leave anyone out.

So this year is an off-year for me, personally. I have more or less not participated in this holiday season. Things have been building to this, and I knew it, but I am holding out. This is the year I have pretty much ignored xmas. One thing I know is that a lot of things are going to change between now and the next xmas (in one major respect, it is already happening).

The bottom line is for all those who see me as a Grinch this year, that’s really not the case. All I said was that I didn’t want any specific gifts from anyone only because I knew I wouldn’t be doing the xmas thing for anyone this year. It’s pretty simple, really. I am not doing it because I want to be Grinchy, but because of the way things have worked out this year. All I “want” this year for the holidays is to relax a day, see the Bears win, talk to my distant friends/family via phone over the weekend, and catch up on some movies/shows that I TiVo’d. Pretty simple. If xmas could be just a bit more like that, I think everyone would love it more than they pretend to.

Here’s to a (hopefully) white xmas in metro Phoenix!

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