My town is all lit up for Christmas.
Can we stipulate that there must be something deep within the human spirit that draws us to have a celebration in the the dead of winter? Don’t make me argue about it: For so many thousands of years, so many cultures have gotten into some kind of festival of lights right around the winter solstice. In the earliest versions, people apparently thought they had to pray and offer sacrifices or else the days would just keep getting shorter until there would be no light at all. Who wouldn’t do anything to forestall that?
I wonder how long that went on before somebody began to speculate what would happen if they didn’t have the ceremony, if the saturnalia party did not go on as usual. Every year we go through this charade, and every year everything turns out just fine — the days get longer, the sun gets warmer, the rains come, the rivers overflow, the earth is fertile and the crops are abundant. What the fuck? It must have happened eventually, but that guy (or girl) probably became the next sacrifice. When you’re talking about the possible advent of Eternal Winter, you can’t take any chances.
Ever since I learned the horrible truth about Santa when I was 17, I have had problems at this time of year. Problems with my soul, damage to my heart. I find myself out in the street at midnight, looking out at the huge blue-black sky, thinking how small I am, how small is my world, wondering what is the point of all this? In these silent nights I grow morose, the centuries invade my street and settle on me like fearsome dust. Face in my hands I cry, take away the darkness, touch my soul, heal my heart. Talk to me starless sky endless space between us touch us see us save us save me. I turn up my collar and stand in the street, and I let the night come into me, and I grow until I am the night, I fill the world, the sky is me. It’s my own little saturnalian outburst. I don’t know where it comes from. Maybe I need more sun, more light in my eyes, in my life.
The houses on my block, some of them, are decorated with brave bright lights and they warm the night. The people inside the houses dream of peace and salvation, of friendship and love and forgiveness. The planet will turn, the days will get longer. We will be forgiven. I shake it off and shove my hands in my pockets and walk back. I haven’t heard an answer, but I’ll forget that.