Astute readers will recall that I find Christmas, well, disturbing. Partly it's a reaction to the super-Christmas environment I grew up in. Partly it's the ever-increasing Wall of Santas that I face in returning home each holiday season. And partly it's that Christmas shopping nearly always requires that I go to a mall, places which always make me uncomfortable and which, during the holiday season, are about as near to my notion of Hell as any place I've ever been.
But it took the wisdom of modern existentialist philosopher Jonathan Coulton to make me realize precisely what it is about Christmas that I find so disconcerting. The plot doesn't cohere. Hallowe'en coheres, mostly. Bloodthirsty monsters have taken to the streets of your town and must be pacified with candy. See, that makes sense. To the extent that people (and I will admit to having been guilty of this myself) dress up as things that are not bloodthirsty monsters, it seems to me that they've forgotten the true spirit of Hallowe'en, but that's not the holiday's fault.
The Fourth of July, fundamentally, says "I love my country, and I plan to show it by blowing things up." And, frankly, what could be more quintessentially American than that?
But Christmas... I mean...
So if you're good, a fat man will come down the chimney of your home, bringing you presents in return for cookies and milk.
If you're bad, the fat man will bring you coal.
If you're particularly good, but having a bad year, Panglossian angels will come to show you how much worse the world would be if things had gone any differently.
If you're particularly bad, ghosts will come to threaten you with visions of your own mortality.
If you've forgotten the true meaning of Christmas, you will be visited by a terminally ill child, to rekindle your Christmas spirit (speaking of which, where is my terminally ill child? I've been waiting for years for a terminally ill child to rekindle my Christmas spirit, but it never seems to happen).
And then there are the supporting cast: the reindeer, the dentists, the Abominable Snowmen, the magical top hats, the crotchety weather gods, the roast beast. It's just too much.
And that only covers the secular holiday. In isolation, the religious holiday makes better sense, from a plot standpoint, but can overall only contribute to the larger sense of muddle that is Christmas.