Hope, as we are so often reminded by smug new-agey types or court-appointed therapists, is not a plan. So if your head hit the pillow last night with a degree of serenity long absent from your regular efforts at slumber it was no doubt on account of your fervent faith that an obvious misreading of a Mesoamerican date planner would somehow provide the finality to all things for which you have been desperately craving but too paralyzed to do anything about yourself. And yet here we are, not only not dead but about to head into the teeth of the season where the manufactured enthusiasm is as mandatory as it is soul-depleting. It’s enough to make you want to—oh, but you know that already. What to do? How to get through this holiday now that your fool’s paradise of the total and cleansing eradication of the entire population has been just one more empty promise in a life full of shattered dreams, unmet potential and sore feet?
Normally this would be the place where I give you some whimsical advice on different ways to cope with Christmas, a list which would no doubt include massive inebriation, aggressive use of earphones, or hiding in the corner with a book (let me put in one last plug for Mark Helprin’s Winter’s Tale: yes, it is my favorite novel of all time, but more importantly they are going to make a movie of it soon which can’t not suck, and you need to buy the book before Colin Farrell’s face is on the cover, at which point no one will want it and understandably so; anyway, it is amazing and terrific and will transport you to another world and is also hefty enough to send a clear message across the room that “I am reading, do not bother me”), but today is different, because I know you. I know your disappointment that the alarm went off this morning like it always does, you staggered to the shower the same way you do at dawn each day, you put your head down and went to work and all the while you couldn’t keep yourself from thinking, “but damn it, I was supposed to be OUT OF HERE.”
More compassion one man could not have. I understand, I do. I am there with you. So let me make you this promise in the hope that it will help you through your holiday crisis and somehow provide the peace you so deeply deserve: You will die. It may not be today, and it may not be tomorrow, and it probably won’t even be within this calendar year, but you know what? Look at everything that is going on right now in the world. It’s probably not gonna be that long in coming. I can’t say for sure how much further the rest of the ride is, but each day I feel a little more confident that we are accelerating towards our destination at an ever increasing pace. Yes, Virginia, you will die. Of this I can assure you. Know hope. Merry Christmas.