By Tom Myers
If you’re like me, then you know reality is very tedious. It’s tireless, inescapable, humdrum and repetitive. It gives a cynical edge to the many thoughts I have. As a result, I have to make all of those thoughts funny. I’m a comedian. That’s kind of my job. However, I tend to have a change of mood when Christmastime rolls around every year. Even to a cynical comedian such as myself, I recognize that the month of December is different from the other months in a good way. I guess it has something to do with the fact that working in the evenings gives me the freedom to do my Christmas shopping in the mornings and early afternoons when everybody else is at work. The only people with whom I compete over parking spaces and the race to the checkout counter are the elderly, stay-at-home mothers and small children. And I am quicker than all of those groups, so I am usually out the door much faster.
Christmas starts off like no other holiday. It has an impetus all its own. As my good friend, former Aberdeen City Council President Mike Hiob notes, Christmas is Thanksgiving on speed. It makes sense that the two holidays are back to back, occurring almost simultaneously. A mad rush ensues the day after Thanksgiving in order to commemorate the official start of the Christmas season. This time of joy, celebration, charity, peace and goodwill to our fellow human beings is marked by increases in bodily injuries, road rage, distress, anxiety as well as our credit card interest rates while the chances of us paying off our balances in their entirety decrease sharply. This kind of stigma does not attach itself to other major holidays. We don’t celebrate January 2 by scrambling over each other at a Zale’s, a Kay Jewelers or a Jared Galleria to buy that perfect piece of jewelry for our significant other. Nor do we spend February 15 getting into fistfights while buying up all of the green clothing we can find. And of course, nobody is at risk of being trampled to death the day after Labor Day to risk getting that last bite-sized Snickers bar to give to a child dressed up as Frankenstein’s monster two months down the road. The only day that compares to the day after Thanksgiving is April 15, the day people sit down and actually start on their taxes and they have that one thought in mind: “I wonder if all the episodes of Oz I watched will prepare me for prison when the IRS finds out how bad I’m screwing up my return?” April 15 is not so much a holiday, but a potential for a pain in the ass, in more ways than one. See what I mean about the joy that comes with the thoughts I have during this festive holiday season?
Christmas was interesting for me growing up because I was raised Catholic. Being Catholics, my mother still keeps an advent wreath in her house. Each of the four Sundays of Advent, which are the four Sundays before December 25, is commemorated by lighting another candle in the wreath. It’s like lighting a menorah during Chanukah, with almost four times the days involved and only half the candles. Three of the four candles are the same color, with the fourth one a different color. The candle that stands out is supposed to be the candle that’s lit on the third Sunday of Advent. For Catholic kids and adults, that’s a big deal. As a kid, you are excited because it means Christmas is not that far away and you get to see what wonderful toys Santa has given you. For adults, it’s not such a fond feeling because they are the poor schmucks that actually have to go out with everybody else and do the actual work. You know that whole shopping thing.
With all of the joy involved in the season, I do feel sorry for one particular man. “Who is this man, Tom?” I hear you asking as you read this. Why, Ebenezer Scrooge, of course! Yes, he may be a fictional character, but here is a perfect example of someone getting the shaft during what is supposed to be The Most Wonderful Time of the Year. Here is a man who undergoes a complete transformation from heartless, money-grabbing isolationist prick to Mother Theresa in the span of one night. Mr. Scrooge is a man who turns out to be a really great guy. And yet, he is still demonized. Penny pinchers are still referred to as scrooges, and I have yet to meet one person with the first name Ebenezer or the last name Scrooge. In Harford County, the best we can do is name a street off of Route 152 after the guy. And I bet that street wasn’t even cleared of snow the day after last weekend’s blizzard. I’d like to say “Bah Humbug” to that, but at least there’s also an Ebenezer Church and an Ebenezer Cemetery at that same turn-off, so we are slowly giving the man his due.
I will say that Mr. Scrooge fares much better than the fictional character Tiny Tim. What is Tiny Tim’s impact upon society? He has named after him a musician who once released a song called “Santa Claus Has Got the AIDS This Year.” See? Ebenezer Scrooge just looks better and better all the time.
If there are any children reading this, there is no need to fret. As far as I know, Santa Claus is still alive and kicking. The proof is in the details and the details are in the website that allows you to track him with help from the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) by going to http://www.noradsanta.org/en/index.html.
Whatever holiday you celebrate, please enjoy it because I cannot stand any complaints or gripes that are not my own. Speaking of my own complaints, what I can’t stand is the fact that I can wish everybody a happy holiday season regardless of their belief system, but I can’t even give a universal sign-off of Happy New Year. There are three major religions that can’t even agree on when the New Year is supposed to start, much less which year this is! So I will instead, give a chipper, agnostic sign-off: See you at my next submission!