Sunday, December 13, 2015

The Ghosts of Christmas Past

I was always jealous of Ebenezer Scrooge.

He was guided on his path to redemption by three ghosts who showed him the exactly what he was supposed to do.  They cared about him.  Somebody from his past came back and helped him.

It's hard not to be jealous of something like that.  To be seen, to be known.  Scrooge was a single domino in a large Rube Goldberg device.  Scrooge was important to the system.  He needed to pay Bob Cratchit more and help keep Tiny Tim alive.  Why?  Because Tiny Tim was the heart of a family, the ever-hopeful and joyful boy who sang the praises of his Christian god to anybody who would listen.

Tiny Tim needed to live so he could keep being the mouthpiece and PR Man for Jeebus.  And in the world of Charles Dickens, that meant Scrooge needed to find redemption, so Scrooge would be the cog in the machine and do his job.  Scrooge was used and manipulated.

The other side of this was Charles Dickens himself.  Dickens was bitter about his childhood.  He was a young gentleman until the age of 12 when his father was put into prison.  Dickens had to sell all his books and possessions, then work in a factory, amongst the lowest classes of people.  In Victorian England, that's a huge slight.  In fact, he stood out so much, the other workers called him "The young gentleman."

Dickens was angry at his fall from social standing and blamed his father.  In so many ways, I sympathize with Dickens and with Scrooge.  Both men had terrible issues with their fathers.  Scrooge was sent away to a boarding school and even younger sister couldn't talk their cold, distant father into letting him come back home.

I used to really love Christmas.  It wasn't the presents, or what I was going to get, because honestly everybody always bought me clothes.  For me, it was all the other stuff.  Family I hadn't seen in a long time would come visit from all over, the lights, the way other people were nicer, the food, the colors and music.

But something changed.

As the years progressed, Christmas got worse and worse.  I began dreading the day for decorating the Christmas Tree because Dad would be drunker and more abusive.  Eventually, he sat down and just said mean things to us until he passed out.  Mom and I would do it together until my sister was old enough to help out.

The Ghost of Christmas Past in the book was a spirit that constantly changed shape into different forms.  It helped us understand why Scrooge became the miser who said "bah humbug!"  That ghost gave us the back-story we needed.

So now I suppose I have to go back.  I won't do all of that here.  But in my mind, I am going back into my years and asking myself, "why am I so miserable this time of year?"  Christmas depresses me the way nothing else does.  I feel disconnected, rejected, and undeserving.

Christmas just isn't fun for me anymore.  And I am resentful of those who do enjoy it.  The Ghost of Christmas Past is always whispering in my ear about how it used to be a wonderful time and how it slowly turned into an emotional meat-grinder when year after year painful things would happen. But instead of forgetting this, I am invited to relive these events when the holiday comes back around.

It's hard for me to shut those memories off and live more in the moment in front of me.  And that's the key to happiness all too often.  Focus more on what is in front of you and less on what was behind you and life will be grand.  But that's easier said than done.  And when I see people posting Christmas stuff in July I feel like I'm being dragged into a pit.  I resent it.

I wish the other ghosts would come visit me.  I'm sick of the Ghost of Christmas Past reminding me of all I've lost.  It would be nice if another one came out and helped me with some sort of redemption or peace.  But they don't come to guys like me.  Those sorts of things are for other people.

I always feel so sorry for Scrooge.  Nobody else seems to feel any empathy for him but his nephew Fred, who toasts him and in a way, says a prayer for him.  Nobody else gives a shit.  I'm way too broke to be like Scrooge.  And my sins are far too deep for redemption.  People like me don't get redemption.  We die alone in a small apartment full of books.  Nobody finds us for days until the smell gets bad.  It's fate.  Some things are just written into stone and cannot be changed.

Just like having three ghosts come by and screw with your head.  I'm sure if somebody in my circle of connections were important, I would be pushed and toyed with, too.

Dickens pushed a social agenda.  He was originally going to publish an essay on how the poor need to be helped.  He decided against this and instead used a story about Christmas to push his beliefs forward.  Christmas used to be known for wild orgies, drunken benders, and sodomy.  If it still were, more people today would be happy to celebrate.

Maybe this is the key to Christmas.  Maybe if Christmas were about hooking up, getting laid, finding some good drugs, and just bingeing into oblivion we'd be much happier about celebrating it.  And through my cult, The Branch Tedians Church of the Stretch Armstrong Messiah, this will be the New Christmas.  We will start new traditions and actually live life.  It will be something to look forward to!

This way, when the Ghost of Christmas Past fucks with me some more, I'll have something cool to watch.  And I can turn to it and say, "Damn, that was fun.  I hope we can do it again this year!"

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