‘Tis the season to be… dripping with sentimentality. Almost every email, every Christmas newsletter, every holiday-related story in the paper or on the web is just this side of corny, sappy, tear-jerking, meant to uplift and fill us with warm feelings.
I’m (not) sorry to admit that the cuteness is lost on this Grinch. I squirm and hit the “delete” key—or my forehead with my open palm—and wonder at our capacity for absorbing (year-round and not only during the holidays) this ocean of mush that is turning us into cretins.
Someone sent me a story describing violinist Joshua Bell playing anonymously in the subway and not being recognized. It ended with the sentence: “How many other things are we missing as we rush through life?” Really? We couldn’t have reached that conclusion on our own?
A while back, confusing Nicholas Sparks with Nicholson Baker (I know, how could I?) I started reading a novel of his. Oh my! I turned the pages, disbelieving, until I realized that this simplistic, fuzzy-woozy job couldn’t be by the author of Vox and Fermata.
What’s the difference between the gooey stuff and the real deal? You know it when you see it. A great love story on film can be tremendous. I cry with the best of them watching “An Affair To Remember” but a cute rom-com with an adorable couple giving each other grief until the happy denouement, eeeww… hasn’t the director ever seen a Spencer Tracy/Katharine Hepburn film? And everywhere you turn, it’s more of the same. I could have died when, in “La Vie en Rose,” Marion Cotillard spreads red rose petals (red) in the corridor of the Manhattan hotel room where the singer is meeting her lover, and adds candles for good measure—Piaf of all people! And seriously, I can live without ever seeing another movie marriage proposal by a guy dropping to his knees in a crowded place, generally a packed stadium or a subway station (to wide grins and general applause from bystanders) or in a more private one (cue violins).
Don’t misunderstand me, I love Christmas as I do all celebrations–it’s the saccharine surfeit that bothers me. Otherwise, it’s the best thing in the world to be with our closest and dearest and to remember the message of Christmas. I enjoy hearing from friends and thinking about them and I care for expressions of love and good will. It’s good for children to hear those sleigh bells and the flutter of the wings of angels. They’ll learn soon enough that despite syrupy promises to the contrary, life throws a lot of lemons our way and few opportunities to turn them into lemonade; in the meantime, some magic is good. As it is, in infinitesimal doses, for us. As is keeping our ears peeled for that flutter of wings–you never know. Happy New Year.
"A blog gives me the perfect tool. I can stand tall on the parapets of my personal fortress, see old and new enemies of reason, wisdom or logic, and send out my own speeding arrows as counter arguments." -- Saïdeh Pakravan
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