The Spirit-Of-Christmas Racket

A special case of the “peace and harmony of the family” racket is Christmas. The rule of the game is that, when the victims least expect it, the dominant player launches a personal attack. When the victims defend themselves, they are accused of violation of the “Spirit of Christmas”.

I have not actually watched any of the National Lampoon movies, but I am told that in one of them a character tells his miserable relatives that: “We’re gonna press on, and we’re gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny fucking Kaye. And when Santa squeezes his fat white ass down that chimney tonight, he’s gonna find the jolliest bunch of assholes this side of the nuthouse.” The idea of someone issuing a sergeant-major-like ultimatum to people that they should be happy and jolly may be amusing partly because all incongruity is funny; but perhaps also because it resonates with our actual experience of people who try desperately to be happy at Christmas, and bitch at everyone else to be happy too.

>In general we can never become happy by an act of will; we become happy only when we forget ourselves in the doing of something else. The National Lampoon character might have ordered his minions to create the finest garden in the town, for example, and it is possible that they would suddenly have looked up from their work and realised that it had made them happy; he might even have achieved the same result by ordering that the complicated Christmas rituals be done perfectly; but you can achieve the end only by concentrating on the means for their own sake. In indifference to the fruits, as Krishna says in the Gita

Another reason why we grimace in recognition may be that this kind of person’s true goal is not, after all, the happiness of his companions, but rather a less innocent satisfaction. The paterfamilias needs this particular illusory tableau on a particular date to demonstrate and legitimise his family power; it is a kind of royal investiture, royal processional and royal sacrifice all in one. If it does not go off right, the gods will not bless the kingdom. 

Posted on March 30, 2009 at 10:52 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink

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