If all went well, we’re in San Pancho, Mexico, now, having escaped Christmas, for the first time ever.
She remonstrated a bit when I told her a few days before we left that I’d gotten her a present (a gold hummingbird pin). I had seen it advertised in The New Yorker after we’d seen a jaw-dropping documentary on these extraordinary birds.
I wasn’t supposed to do that, she said; our trip was to serve as our Christmas present to each other. And indeed it has, though I told her (with tongue in cheek, of course) that I considered as her gift to me the fact that she’d footed the bill for my root canal.
I doubt, though, that you can ever escape Christmas — the message, of course, to wit, that a miraculously conceived baby was sent to save us is wonderful, but that consolatory vision (even though we know it ends badly) has long ago given way to the demands of modern-day consumerism, mandatory cheer, and to, perhaps in some instances, momentary cease-fires from wars whose killing will begin again in earnest on the morrow.
“All you need is love,” the Beatles said. “All there is is love,” Virgil, and Dante, whom he guided, said, pointing out that everything good as well as everything bad stem from love (the bad things stemming from its misapplications).
The general idea being that it is better to live temperately and contemplatively rather than to be enslaved by one’s appetites, and better to love others than to wish evil upon them or to actually do them evil.
Not that any of us pay any attention (nor did they much in Dante’s time either). Though if you wanted to trim Christmas’s “message” down to temperance and compassion, that would, it seems to me, serve pretty well.
But that wouldn’t be life as we know (and certainly to some extent enjoy) it.
Give me the variety, but not the carnage. That would be my Christmas wish.
And speaking of violence (only the vicarious kind, of course), we won’t miss any big football games while escaping from Christmas, will we?