“Sometimes you eat the bar and sometimes, well, he eats you.” – The Big Lebowski
The Coen Brothers know what’s up. I’ve been in a cranky mood today. It’s been a long week. I haven’t gotten much sleep. I’ve been an Amish Man over and over and while the reading time has been appreciated, the hours have been long. But I like being on set, so it’s not that. Christmas can be stressful. There’s a lot to do. Presents to buy. Cards to send. Parties and events and this and that, and oops, forgot that other thing.
I’m tired, is the thing. And when you’re tired, you can unknowingly regress to the state of a 9 year old. I’d planned to see a big budget action movie and munch popcorn and get taken away by blue people and their special effects. What happened instead was a hassle to get there and an extra 20 minutes parking and the movie being sold out. We should have planned better. So, we scrambled, were going to see it at a different theater, but after getting on the wrong freeway going the wrong way, I was just angry and pissed off, and anyway the other screening wasn’t going to be in IMAX, so why pay that much extra? I’ll skip the debacle of getting food that followed and just say if you want Thai food in L.A. on a Sunday, don’t call me or I may scream at you.
Now this isn’t in the Holiday spirit, is it? No, no, I know. Did I mention I’m tired? Also, I’ve had a headache for the last 5 hours, undoubtedly a physical reflection of my internal condition.
So what’s to be done? It’s Christmas, I can’t go around being a Scrooge for the next week. That does nobody any good. Well, I pray. And I complain at God for a while and then I complain in my journal for a while and then I complain in a blog for a while. But I apologize, too. And I take a deep breath. And I ask God for help, and I know that He will, and I breathe and try to remember that through my headache. And then I put on Sufjan Stevens’ Songs For Christmas, the 5 disc compilation that’s just great.
I don’t tend to like Christmas music at all. But I really like this. It’s got some original songs and some really good versions of traditional songs. An appropriate one I just listened to again, “It’s Christmas! Let’s Be Glad,” which has some bits of wisdom in it:
Since it’s Christmas, let’s be glad/ Even if your life’s been bad/ There are presents to be had…La la la la la la ah / Since the year is almost out/ Lift your hands and give a shout / There’s a lot to shout about today
The set also includes Sufjan sharing some Christmas thoughts and then, out of nowhere, a little essay/song by one of my favorite writers, Rick Moody? Is this a Christmas miracle? And so I read it while I listen, in the middle of typing this, and I read it looking for something funny to quote from Mr. Moody and instead I end up in tears and feeling so much the relieved and the better and without headache, not just because he’s a great, fine writer, but because he describes my day today and week this week:
What is this thing about Christmas, the paradoxical tendency of Christmas, that the more heartbreaking it is the closer it seems to get to the point? Why is failure and awkwardness so human and so natural at Christmas? Why is it that really unacceptable gifts are somehow perfect, no matter how horrible or insulting or inexplicable? Why is it that having no gift to offer, just completely failing in the gift-giving department, admitting as much, seems closer to the No Room at the Inn concept, as described above? Why is it that anxiety and panic on Christmas seem more human than good-natured fun and loving Christmas? Why is it that Christmas seems like such an appropriate day to hyperventilate, to palpitate, to sweat profusely, to be certain that you are having a nervous breakdown? Why is it that desperation is closer to God?
And now, at least, I can breathe again, and continue on with the season, hopeful and… well, that’s enough isn’t it?