I have decidedly mixed feelings about Christmas. I’ve always loved the story, still do. Some of the spinoffsâ€”Dickens, Seuss; Schulz and whoever committed that Drummer Boy, not so much. My dad used to work in advertising with the guy who wrote “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” as an ad assignment for Montgomery Ward’s, and the Capraesque story of how he wrested the rights from the company in a jury trial was part of our Christmas lore. I loved the decorating. My mom made stuff out of trashâ€”pie pans, styrofoam from Alka-Seltzer bottles, the humbler the better. We sprayed white fluffy chemical snow all over the tree and the den. I loved it. I still like the decorations. Growing up in Texas, I didn’t know that colorful displays were “tacky”; it took Virginians to tell me that. They have a Tacky Christmas Light tour here with people riding around in limos gawking at the displays of the tasteless. The default Virginia decoration are these wimpy single candle lights in every window. I always thought of the lights as sort of electric Joy to the World, and if you’re in Hosanna to the highest territory seems to me a candle ain’t going to cut it. Which brings me to the songs, the carols. What I like about this is it’s the same set of songs every year, positively medieval, like those same stories about King Arthur and his pals. What I don’t like about it is it’s the same songs every year. Some of them, I insist, should never have made it into the canon. “Jingle Bell Rock.” Even typing the words cause me anguish. “O Holy Night!” on the other hand, has me all soft and squooshy. I believe Henry James covers squooshy in The Varieties of Religious Experience. No. What’s gone wrong with Christmas for me is that it’s become the great celebration of consumption, capitalism triumphant. The drama of the season has nothing to do with Jesus, Rudolph, even frigging Charlie Brown, but with you, you lard ass. Are you going to go out there and spend some serious dough or not? Do you care about the American Way of Life? Then you better go rack up those negative savings or there’s no telling what adjustments the market might make, and then where will you be? Kind of gives you a warm glow, don’t it? You can see what I mean by mixed feelings. Not that they weren’t always there. I remember hunting for and not finding a particularly desired gift and cursing my parents for failing me, only to get the damn thing on Christmas morning. It had been hidden in the trunk of my dad’s car, along with the boxes of drug samples that made it doubly off-limits to me. You got your train kid, it was riding around with the Dexedrine. Now how do you feel? Ho! Ho! Ho! Thankful? Ashamed? Like I said, mixed feelings. The part I like best, of course, is the peace on earth, good will toward humans, and the rest of the biosphere while we’re at it. So I hope you’re enjoying your holiday. Give everyone you love a hug.