I Want Mine, Too!

December 16, 2001

by John K. Bates

Ah, Christmas in America, 2001. Excuse me, the holidays in American 2001. In today’s hyper-PC environment, it is no longer about “Christmas” or even the “Christmas season.” Time was when society tried to water down the Christian holiday with Santa and reindeer and elves. Today, however, Santa himself is in jeopardy. I guess the old guy isn’t diverse enough; so now he can only be displayed with a variety of decorations that celebrate all of the “diverse holidays” we now have.

In a sense, Christmas has always left your humble columnist feeling a bit hollow. The Norman Rockwell Christmas so celebrated in sappy song and overused diamond commercials has never made much sense to me, since I am a single man with a greatly scattered family. Putting aside the fact that all of those warm fuzzy family feelings have absolutely nothing to do with the birth of Jesus Christ (more on this later), it seems that if you are a single person without a large family in America, you simply have to shut up and go along with all the others who are celebrating the “holidays.” Wear a fake smile, pretend you care more for people on December 24 than on December 26, and enjoy bad music and awful decorations. But as I am not one who likes to go along to get along, I think I should try one of the “alternatives” to find my holiday spirit. Perhaps one of these will kinder that warm feeling in my heart and actually make me enjoy hearing “Silver Bells” a few hundred times.

Alas, each of the alternatives has problems of their own. Kwanzaa is the “black Christmas,” and it would seem odd to try to celebrate it as a non-black. Ramadan, recently elevated by Hillary Clinton to “equal holiday” status, is strictly for Muslims. And while I have attended a Hanukkah celebration and enjoyed the storytelling and the food, I am not Jewish nor do I have any desire to become a Jew. So Hanukkah is out, too. I guess I have to go back to celebrating Christmas, problems and all.

Unless I create my own holiday. And why not? After all, Kwanzaa and especially Ramadan are recent inventions, at least in terms of being included in the same breath as Christmas. And if Hallmark can create Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day and all the other “Hallmark Holidays,” why can’t I create my own holiday? A holiday for the rest of us. For those without kids and a family, who aren’t black, Jewish or Muslim and who don’t enjoy the sappy Andy Williams and Bing Crosby Christmas music and the Norman Rockwell imagery. And since women more or less have their own holiday with the aforementioned Valentine’s Day, this holiday should appeal to men. We need a special day just for us, a day that we can revel in and celebrate and hopefully get some loot along with the rest of society.

In other words, we need St. Mikita’s Day.

St. Mikita, as any man who has been on a job site or in a mechanic’s shop, is the patron saint of power tools. And he is long overdue for his own holiday.

One thing about St. Mikita: He was very honest. So we should be honest when we discuss the meaning of his holiday. There will be no altruistic background of helping others; St. Mikita Day will be about pure greed. As with other manufactured holidays, certain gifts will be encouraged, with the focus on things guys like (this excludes neckties, ladies). Sports memorabilia is in. So are gift certificates to a certain restaurant chain featuring excellent chicken wings. A man appreciates a good beer (though always in moderation), so that is in. Tickets to a ball game or a gun show are always in. And let’s not forget St Mikita’s favorite: Power tools. What will light up a man’s eyes more than a DeWalt cordless tool kit, or that new compressor he has had his eye on for the past year? Imagine his joy when he opens the wrapping on a new hammer drill or a big workbench, rotary saw included. Yes, men everywhere will delight in the thoughtfulness shown to them as they celebrate their special day.

Since none of the other “alternate” holidays are on Christmas (a bonus for those celebrating more than one), St. Mikita Day should not fall on Christmas either. In fact, there is no reason it needs to fall on any set day of the year. So like Memorial Day and Labor Day, let’s make it the first Saturday after the first Sunday of the year. This gives us something to look forward to in January, especially once we get ties for Christmas. And since this day would fall during the NFL playoffs, it will be a doubly special day. Yes, St. Mikita’s Day. Coming in 2002 to a man near you.

To answer the obvious question: No, I am not serious. I surely do jest, at least about “St. Mikita’s Day.” But I am not joking about the travesty that the Christmas season has become, including - and perhaps especially - the Norman Rockwell stuff. The raw greed of Santa, after all, is easy to dismiss. But the emphasis on family and what surely is a phony sense of love simply allows people to enjoy a false “happiness” by pretending to be close to people that in reality they probably care little about. This is hypocrisy at its worst; what is right on December 24 surely must be right on December 26. And I am not joking at all when I discuss those who do not have close family during this time of year. The endless commercials, “holiday specials,” and even church Christmas programs endlessly reinforce the message that they are valueless members of society. Far from the “Christmas spirit,” many of these folks spend this season in a funk, placed there by a society that openly ostracizes them.

But worse still is the effect of the “season” on the true meaning of Christmas. For those who have forgotten, at Christmas we celebrate the ultimate expression of God’s love through the birth, life, death, and resurrection of his Son, Jesus Christ. The “family” stuff is a clever way to make people feel “good” about the season without acknowledging the true meaning of it. But it has nothing to do with Christmas. By pushing the true meaning aside to celebrate the “family,” society opens the door for everything and anything to take its place. Hence, we now have Kwanzaa, Ramadan, and Hanukkah as “substitutes” for Christmas. Just as there is no substitute for Christ when it comes to approaching God, however, there is no appropriate substitute for the true meaning of Christmas. Not an alternate holiday. Not Santa and elves and reindeer. And not even the “Norman Rockwell” Christmas of warm, happy people enjoying each other’s company. These are perhaps good things. But none of them can ever or will ever embody the true spirit of this day, when we celebrate the ordinary birth of a decidedly unordinary Child. They are at best cheap imitations, placebos of love that leave us hollow and empty.

Hopefully, after all the hype and fuss and stress, Americans can remember at least a little bit of God’s message this holiday, er, this Christmas season. Rather than power tools (nice as they are), this is my humble wish to all of my readers.