#102: Christmas Tree-nity

December 21st, 2012

Yes, the minister explained to his suffering congregant in the Starbucks, God will let you get out of that holiday party you don’t want to go to.

I wasn’t trying to listen in. I was trying to work on Wednesday’s story about the veterans memorial. But when you’re at a crowded coffee shop and the men at the table next to you are saying God, God, God so much you think they’re re-enacting the “When Harry Met Sally” diner scene, it’s hard to ignore.

The two words the minister kept pronouncing more loudly than the others were “God,” of course, and “boundaries.” It was about setting boundaries, he kept repeating. It’s about setting emotional and, moreover, physical boundaries about how much someone can touch you.

At that point, I actually did start listening in because the subject matter and, to be honest, the congregant made me think I could be seated next to a gay conversion session.

Come on, the guy was wearing a fleece from a dance studio!

Luckily, Googling the name of the book on the men’s table showed it was a touchy-feely Christian self-help thing about being less of a doormat than a “You don’t like dudes” brainwashing.

“So, can I get out of that Christmas party?” the man in the dance studio fleece (come on!) asked at one point.

The minister’s response was immediate.

“Of course you can,” he said.

I’m not a religious person in any sense of the word, but I do feel sorry for the truly religious every Christmas season. Christ isn’t the reason for the season (that would be Earth’s tilted axis), but he sure as shit is the reason for the holiday we’ve co-opted into a festival of greed and catchy tunes.

I like presents and storing dead conifers in my house as much as the next guy, so why don’t we as a society just nut up and admit it has nothing to do with the day it’s supposedly around? Let the religious keep the birth of their savior as the personal and holy day it is to them.

We can form a new tradition, a secular fest of all the cookies and cupidity we turned a religious group’s most-sacred holiday into. I propose we call it “It’s Dark Out And I Need Something Peppy To Ward Off Seasonal-Affective Disorder… Mas.”

But each December we conflate God and Gucci, swirling the two together so much a Christian man Jesus fan felt he had to go to a Starbucks with his minister to ask permission to skip out on a holiday party he didn’t feel up to.

Maybe he was more worried about offending his significant other than his Significant Other, or maybe he was just wondering how to break a promise and stay right with G-O-D. Heck, maybe he’s a recovering alcoholic dealing with Yuletide temptation and I’m the ass here.

But sitting in that crowded Roscoe Square yuppitorium with a cleric representing the deity to whom both had pledged their lives and immortal souls, the man in the fleece seemed pretty relieved the creator of the universe gave him the OK to duck out on that party.

Comment on this story

Read another Christmas story

What's this?

You are currently reading #102: Christmas Tree-nity by Paul Dailing at 1,001 Chicago Afternoons.

  • Get Stories by Email

  • Chicago Corruption Walking Tour

    Join the email list for tour dates and info.