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.

I froze.

They're here.

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,



Guinevere said...

I think you're a bit slow on the draw there, pawdner. Although I've never heard it called that, "Blue Christmas" has been around for quite a while. I'd seen it done while I was still in high school, and the first Christmas tree I got to decorate, in 1997, was all blue, as were all the Christmasy decorations in the house.

Do the more traditional colors have a religious meaning that I don't know, since wasn't raised in any church?

Alison said...

I chose to go away from red and green years ago. I realized that the colours come from Roman times.
The fact that Jesus was more likely born in March at the end of the winter, and that the celebration of Jesus's birth was snuck into the winter soltice by the Romans, made me take a stance that we are a society where 'Jesus is the reason for the season' has become history.
As for a winter celebration, nothing white near my kids.... but blue and silver are wonderful together.
I'm also a scrooge, because my brother and my neice died at Christmas, so it's never been the same for me. Despite their deaths and the suffering they went through, I have become a stronger believer, but not in the man made ho ho hos and and buy buy buys. (maybe I worked too many Christmases in a department store).

I much prefer to celebrate Easter now, and the kids get Purdy's from Baba becasue she is Orthodox and buys it half price the day after our Easter.
I have no problem with wishing Tal and his family a Merry Christmas and a blessed new year. This season should be merry and open to everyone.
Can anyone help convince my husband to pay more than $50 on me this year?
Tal, let your wife try a blue tablecloth and some silver decorations on the table. Looks good through to new years.

Janet said...

I do something different every year, but blue is my least favorite color, so no issues with that one!

justme said...

Tal - you are not old enough to use " age related physiological immaleablity" as an excuse. You just want to get your own way. Come on, admit it :)

But to pick up on your point i'd say in the spirit of the season all elderly people should get their way to make them happy. I will remember that when i am with my parents this christmas.

Lastly - i think the magic of christmas is in the nostalgia it recalls for us. So if red and green is what you grew up with, red and green is what brings the most childhood magic back, and if you need some more childhood magic in your life, stick with tradition...

good writing... good reading, thanks!

Melissah said...

I thought you loved blue or something. And Bravo! who cares if those sillt writter in California go on strike, as long as we have Tal and his Brilliant dramatisation(sorry, I don't have the lasr letter of the alphabet so I use "s" I actually can spell).

We were looking for christmas fabric about a month ago, and I was shocked athow many flowery blue and white pattern there were. I thought blue and wite meant new years, for some reason.

I read a web article about Gold and the Winter Soltice. and "For unto us a SUN is given" how funny!! ha ha ha!er, ho ho ho.

But I noticed that the Christmasy Care Bears are all Blue and white, too. hmmm...

I don't really attribute it do my brain which is biological, though it makes sense and probably bears alot of truth, yet in thisncase we are dealing with total sybolism,

Christmas is red and green.a little girl told me that I forget about Silver and Gold. like the gifts of he wisemen. I wanted to ask, "how do you know" but then thought how do I know "green" and "red" are christmas, cause that's what they sell? naw.

I made earrings for Christmas that are blue and silver, but definately Christmasy because they are Christmas lights. How do I knoW that? cause little tiny bulbs go on the tree so it dosn't burn down and they represent Christmas because I don't see them anywhere else, though they could be quite useful elsewhere.

Admitedly, I had a different immage in my mind when I read the tite being "blue Christmas" I instantly thought of bing... no wait he's the white Christmas guy... Elvis maybe?

Either way I thought it would be representing a sad time, but as I read I realied again I was fooled by symbols. It was like a guy was talking about being a Dark Angel, which conjured up totally wrong ideas in my head which

I don't attribute the fault to the brain's sorage or recall of information, though I won't deny that it truly looses elasticity as we age, undisputible.

But I'm not going to run wild and let that thought taint everything I think about Cause it could, but obviously isn't the real explainaton for why... ?

I love to ask how and why. (a Great song btw) though if my brain really hldes that secret, then telling me won't do any good anyway. I'm too old to learn a new trick.

Wait maybe teaching children to be inquisitive is bad because It will still be with them when they cannot learn anymore. They will live to hate what they loved. But that would explain the idea that if you teach a child a truth while they are young then they can't change when they get old, but wait what about Augustine?

Tal said...

So.......the blue thing is a global virus....eating out the vitals of Christmas tradition...noooooooooooooooooo!

And yes, Melissah, I do like blue - I just don't like covering my entire living room and Christmas tree with blue. Just like I like onions in onion rings, but don't want them in my chocolate chip cookies...

Tal said...

Oops, just read your post Alison - sorry for your loss. Best wishes this Christmas...

Melissah said...

Allison - Because Tal so thoughtfull mentioned your loss. I reminded meof the fact that myparents are one to a funeral, Time to do all the evil things that I am acused of while they are gone, *wickedlaugh* no really, It reminded me of m dad's thoughtful comments last night about how the season stresses out whole self and weakens us, so he took mymother to the doctor,nothing was wrong with her that I could tell, but she isn't my wife. and he tol a sad tale of a local man inhis thirties who passed away unexpectedly, That isn'yt intended to give hope that we won't have to suffer getting old and watching ourselves loose things, but he said it is terrible and the fact that we celebate evey year only renew pain for so many. I paid atention, but now wit a little extra thinking about you and what you have to endure each year it all clicks, ah hah!

now I will think of you evey christmas, too. Best wishes! always! What department store did you work at? I used the seasonal need to get a job one year at Federated Department stores.

People really like to shop, don't they. There must be something fun about it that I don't get. hmm, and why do those Salvation army people only ring bells at Christmas? What about the rest of the year or is it just a meaningless tradition? I doubt people are only caring or good around Christmas or that people only have needs at Hollidays.

Dianne said...

Merry Christmas to you Tal,

I feel for you wife, a lot of people like themey trees and such. I'm not into that so much, give me an old feather tree and some vintage ornaments and I'm happy.

I guess since the very first trees had candles and not lights (talk about fire hazard), and they hung actual fruit and nuts on the tree, that would be considered truly traditional. I myslelf like figural glass ornaments.

And back to the color thing, I have sold (on Ebay) postcards from 1900 with a Santa on them, one was wearing a purple suit and one was wearing, now brace yourself Tal, BLUE, so even back then people were up for change. Imagine that.

I love love love reading your blogs, this one made me laugh. You are so much funnier than Steve Martin ☺.

Tal said...


Obviously the "1900" Christmas cards you are referring to are MODERN FORGERIES perpetrated by the sinister cabal of women's glossy editors trying to destroy "the one, true way of Christmas" out of allegiance to Santa's bitter, sabotaging rival, the Easter Bunny.

Open your eyes, woman!

Verity said...

I feel pretty confident, Tal, that you can place the blame squarely on Martha Stewart for the current pastel, Easter egg-colored Christmas Weltanschauung.

This might make me old-fashioned, too, but I happen to think, like Queen Victoria, that the proper color of Christmas is actually "German" -- nutcrackers, glass Kugel, Silent Night, reruns of The Sound of Music. Now THAT'S Christmas.

smile said...

I love this story. Reading it is one of my holiday traditions. It always makes me laugh--a lot! :)

pureandsimpleme said...
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