Why do you live in a strange country?
To feel stranger.
It’s a wonderful time of the year to feel strange, especially if you don’t celebrate Christmas. If you’re sensitive to alienation opportunities, it gives and gives. Instead of simple confusion, consider throwing yourself in headfirst. Cultivate a Rimbaud moment – derangement of the senses, an experience that takes you from the familiar into the vast unknown.
I chose a rainstorm as my perverse time to see what this year’s Christmas shopping was like. Not any rainstorm – a time when large drops were driving and slapping at the diagonal. Umbrellas were inverting like, well, Christmas trees. What a good time to join the other grumbling shoppers with their boisterous ho-ho. Then looking for certain specialty items, I drove around empty brick warehouses looking at the offices of accident lawyers, uniform shops, pawnshops. Inside the yogurt pot of my little car, I was listening to French songs (a tobacco-rough chanteur whose words were wistful and accompaniment sentimental). I was looking for dried rose buds in an herb shop that borders the cemetery. To make a fish tagine with quince and rose buds. To each her own obsession!
Since political correctness has been killed off by our new Santa in Chief, I dare to say that I come by this rightly. In childhood, my family made an annual excursion to view the rooftop blitzers and fritzers and Santas in the goyishe part of town, mother and father in the front seats of the car, daughters in the back. We’d point and laugh at the Vegas-bright lights and maybe feel a little jealous, maybe not. We did go out for Chinese on the day.
This year Hanukkah falls at the same time as Christmas, but timing isn’t the point. It’s that the mainstream is not a friendly place these days. It’s not Trump’s fault that the scales of Happy Holidays have fallen off and we are back to Merry Christmas. It’s fine.
It is the time to wear one’s alienation proudly. The normal is not normal at all. Je est un autre, I is an other – Rimbaud’s famous declaration – is right on time. And by the way, to those who oppose the mainstream with true good will, Merry Christmas.