Wednesday, December 5, 2007
I'll NOT Have a Blue - blue blue blue - Christmas, thanks
This past year I read a fantastic little book entitled, "Brain and Culture: Neurobiology, Ideology, and Social Change", by Yale psychiatrist Bruce E. Wexler. Long story short is, Wexler shows that as our degree of neural plasticity decreases (with age), the more our resistance to environmental change increases. So, for example, immigrant children naturally are quite adaptable to their new environment, whereas their parents will try to refashion it so as to bring it into conformity with their long-since formed internal representations of "how the world should be" - representations which have developed deep roots in, and connections to, our senses of identity, meaning, "rightness" and "wrongness", aesthetics, etc. And predictably, those adults already existing in the environment will seek consonance between their internal representations and their observed surroundings by resisting the changes that newcomers try to make to it. In short, as we age, our physiology increasingly ensures that failure to achieve consonance between internal representations and environment will cause us greater and greater amounts of psychic and emotional pain.
Something like this dynamic, I presume, explains my instinctive reaction late last year when my wife casually mentioned that she was thinking of doing a "blue Christmas".
"What do you mean, a 'blue Christmas'?", I said, instantly on alert.
"It just means you use blue with white, instead of red or green or gold. I've been seeing it in all the magazines", she said.
"What's wrong with a 'blue Christmas'?", she asked.
Gee, I guess there's nothing wrong at all with a blue Christmas, just like there's 'nothing wrong' with sitting down to a giant platter of McDonald's cheeseburgers for Thanksgiving dinner, and nothing wrong with showing up in a clown suit for Veteran's/Remembrance Day ceremonies, and nothing wrong with devoting funeral eulogies to describing all the rotten, horrible things the deceased did while he was alive and why it's a good thing he finally died, and nothing wrong with replacing the American flag with a flag featuring a headshot of Britney Spears, and nothing wrong with handing out bags of dirty cat litter, instead of flowers, cards, and chocolates, on Valentine's Day...What do you MEAN 'what's wrong with a blue Christmas?'?!!!
No - actually I didn't say that. Of course, it did cross my mind - but only, for like, you know, a very short period of time. Instead, I said:
"Well, that is an idea...though it might not really feel like Christmas" (actually, I think it was more like, "Don't want no stinkin' blue Christmas...").
"Hm, maybe you're right", she said. Or should have said.
'Maybe' I'm right? I'm a lot more than 'maybe', honey. How'd you like it if I wanted a Goth Christmas, where we do the entire living in room in black, with fluorescent skulls and black lighting, with fake blood and skeletons everywhere? Come ON!
Instead, I replied, "Yeah, I think so. I like what we normally do".
And, I thought, naively, this would be the last time I'd ever have to think about a 'blue Christmas'...I'd even forgotten how 'neurally immalleable' I was. Silly me. For as it happened, amigos, I went out with my posse (my two little girls, 9 and 7, and my two youngest boys, 5 and 2) the other night to pick up some new Christmas tree lights (white mini-lights)....and what to my wondering eyes did appear....
a bunch of boxes of exclusively BLUE Christmas tree lights.
For a second, I felt like grabbing the kids and yelling "ruuuuuunnnnnn!". Another possibility I thought of was for the camera to pull in super close to just get my eyes, and then pulling back quickly as I stared at the ceiling and let loose a primal howl of anguished rage and vengeance - then cue high-volume beating drums as I begin (slow-motion sequence) knocking all the blue lights off the shelves, jumping up to kick store employees in the face, then smash-cut to a camera in front of the store's big plate-glass window...all of a sudden I come running right through the window (still slow-mo), glass shattering everywhere, my kids running behind, strings of broken blue lights in hand, with a gang of hardward store employees, with fiendish looks on their faces, chasing behind...
Instead, I just bought the lights and left, grimly paraphrasing to myself the old Patrick Henry quote:
"I know what course others may take; but as for me, give me THE TRUE CHRISTMAS COLORS, or give me death!"
And that is just what we have - and it looks awesome.
Happily holding out against a rising tide of subversion,