The Canadian Writers' Collective

Writing, and writerly tangents

Friday, December 08, 2006

The Season of Senselessness and Cents-Less-ness and Scentsless-ness

by Melissa Bell

A colleague and I were talking today about how few Christmas cards have shown up at the office so far this year. It's still early, but we usually have a dozen or so by now scattered around the front desks, and constantly falling over whenever someone breezes by too quickly. Maybe the business world is waking up to the fact that sending out Christmas cards all willy-nilly-like to other businesses is an enormous waste of resources.

I remember the first time an employer of mine asked me to go through a greeting card catalogue and pick out one that I felt might be suitable to send out to our customers. They were all very nice cards – lots of shiny shiny-ness and the samples provided were sturdy and not too bendy. They came with matching foil-lined envelopes and 'Your Company Name Here' stamped on the inside – in gold, if one wished. All very classy. And hideously expensive. As we didn't have a huge mailing list, 50-100 cards worked out to approximately $7.50 per card. Not including tax. Or shipping + handling. Or postage. Now, I don't know about you, but I'm fairly certain that even without a calculator you could agree that's pretty much a big fat waste of money for something that sits around for a couple of weeks at the most and doesn't do anything at all, and keeps doing absolutely nothing at all right up to and including the moment somebody decides to throw it away.

And as I'm sitting here, thinking about how to continue this post, I realize that perhaps that's all just part of the season. It's a big wasteful time of the year. Please don't think I'm all Scroogey McTreehugger – I'm not. I love Christmas and a lot of its excesses. It's shameful the things I love about Christmas.

I was reading the other day a report on how Christmas lights add some crazy extra negative aspect to our already rather gluttonous consumption of energy. But I can't help but love Christmas lights. All of them. Even the craptacular lights of my somewhat odd neighbour who takes the same old sorry strings of lights every year, and appears to just pitch them at the front of his house where they stick by some miraculous method (I wish I had a picture – they're the messiest bunch of Christmas lights in the world). I still love that he makes the effort (such that it is) and they're still pretty and they make me happy to see them when I'm coming home and I'm miserable because it's cold and it's dark and it's only five thirty. Good for you, Odd Neighbour! Thank you for cheering me up, even if you are so wholly and totally lame at stringing up those lights of yours! You still rock.

Wrapping paper. I buy it. But I rarely use it. I use gift bags. They're re-usable (I'm fairly sure one of my friends and I have exchanged the same gift bag back and forth for at least five or so years now), and you can get them for extra-cheap. But I still can't resist buying gift wrap. You just won't ever get any of it wrapped around your gift. Sorry. It's mine. All mine.

Christmas fruitcake. Am I the only one who actually likes this? It's everywhere in all the stores and supermarkets, so surely there's a demand for it, but everyone I speak to seems to hate the stuff. Is it because I'm secretly 117 years old?

Egg nog. Lait de poule. And I mean that yellowish, sugary-rich concoction that comes in the carton –– the kind that can be picked up at the 7-11 is just jim-dandy by me. I don't want any of that genuine homemade Bacteria Milkshake - I know it's just waiting to cripple my holiday with a crude case of salmonella.

And my fake all-white tree that is, no doubt, made from all kinds of nasty chemicals and polymers and, when I do have to dispose of it one day, it will sit in a landfill site for about 12,000 years, but I love it because it means I don't have deal with the mess that a real tree brings with it, no matter how careful one might be. If, however, you feel strongly about my choice of fake vs. real, you are more than welcome to buy me a Dyson vacuum cleaner (purple, please) and I will instantly make the switch.

"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas". No matter where, no matter when, no matter what…this song slays me. It's my favourite song of all, but I cannot listen to it – I cannot even think about listening to it without getting all misty. Actually, "misty" is an understatement. I need tissues.

There, well now, that wasn't too smart of me. I started thinking about that damn song. And now…well…my face is a big fat mess and I have to go now because my nose is all stuffed and runny and even if I had a Dyson and a real tree, I couldn't appreciate the latter's piney goodness anyway. (Curse you, Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane!)

Have yourself a merry little weekend everybody!


Blogger Anne C. said...

As they say on the Street, you know your onions, Miss Bell.

I'd love to murder a cuppa with you.

Fri Dec 08, 09:50:00 am GMT-5  
Blogger Andrew Tibbetts said...

Personally, I man the front lines of the war on Christmas.

Although I like that tv movie, Prancer. Why? I don't know. I was vulnerable that day.

Fri Dec 08, 10:50:00 am GMT-5  
Blogger tamara said...

Oh yeah, lights do it for me too.

But you know what gets me: window displays. If ever I see a really good one, I'm immediately transported back to being 3 feet tal, wearing a red wool coat and fuzzy white mittens (though i'm pretty sure I never owned a coat like that), standing in front of the the Woodward's department store display, chock full with the mechanical waving Santa, complex moving train network, and other captivating subtleties strewn throughout. Now it's usually about selling product. But every once in a while...

Fri Dec 08, 12:34:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Patricia said...

I just love you. I love that song and gift wrap and holly and egg nog for sure!!! we're getting our tree this weekend, hopefully watching White Christmas!! maybe Frosty, I cry when he melts, I do, buckets for Frosty...thanks Mel..xoxo

Fri Dec 08, 02:18:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Tricia Dower said...

Mel, you really capture the mixed feelings that surround the holidays. I wish I could go back and be as unaware as I once was about the suffering in the world. I could really get into Christmas, then, indulging my nostaligia for lights and presents and lavish food. As it is, I feel I'm in Christmas limbo.

Tue Dec 12, 10:30:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger J.A. McDougall said...

So glad I fainlly got a chance to enjoy this post, Mel. This is really lovely. I too am a fruitcake lover. You should see me at a buffet table, especially if it's at someone's home. I make sure to go to the host and compliment them on their delicious fruitcake. The usual response: "Oh that?! My aunt so-and-so sent it, eat it! Get rid of it!" And I do as I'm told.

Thu Dec 14, 10:50:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Antonios Maltezos said...

I can still sit through a showing of the original Grinch Who Stole Christmas. As for the newer version, I caught my youngest trying to hug the TV just as the Grinch's heart was threatening to burst. We need Christmas, I guess, even if it is a bit wasteful.

Sun Dec 17, 10:42:00 am GMT-5  

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