All of library research could not give a better example of the soul of a nihilist than this opinion piece by Maureen Dowd in the New York Times. She has been in a serious tail-spin for some time now, manifested by ever-increasingly bitter columns. This poor woman seems to hate anything as long as someone values it. That is the essence of nihilism, hating values and valuers, and particularly hating the good for being good.
It's not the specifics of this piece that stand out as much as the tone. Certain aspects of Christmas she mentions, I agree with. Hackneyed Christmas music gets worse by the year. Yesterday, while grocery shopping, I had to listen to every barroom-styled and jazzed up "interpretations" of the old chestnuts like "Frosty the Snowman." And, repetition of seasonal movies has the effect of over-doing anything. However, I accept that many people enjoy such repetitions and call it part of their traditions.
But to hate, to hate because people find joy in this season, to reject life, happiness, and prosperity? Only a nihilist could do it this well.
December 5, 2004
Jingle Bell Schlock
By MAUREEN DOWD
If I hear "Frosty the Snowman" one more time, I'll rip his frozen face off.
It's a scientific fact, or should be, that Christmas music can turn you into a fruitcake. It either sends you into a Pavlovian shopping trance, buying stupid things like the Robosapien, or, if you hear repeated Clockwork-Orange choruses of "Ring, Christmas Bells" drilling into your brain with that slasher-movie staccato, makes you feel as possessed with Christmas spirit as Norman Bates.
I've never said this out loud before, but I can't stand Christmas.
Everyone in my family loves it except me, and they can't fathom why I get the mullygrubs, as a Southern friend of mine used to call a low-level depression, from Thanksgiving straight through New Year.
"You're weird," my mom says. This from a woman who once left up our Christmas tree until April 3, and who listens to a radio station that plays carols 24/7 all month.
My equally demonic sister has a whole collection of rodents dressed in holiday clothes that she puts up around her house. There's a mouse Santa Claus and mouse Mrs. Claus and mice elves and a miniature Christmas village with mice, and some rat Cinderella coachmen in pink waistcoats and rats in red velvet vests and more rats, wearing frilly red-and-white nightshirts and nightcaps and holding little candles, leading you up the steps to bed. It's beyond creepy. I keep fretting that it's going to be like "Willard" meets "The Nutcracker," where they come alive and eat her like a Christmas pudding.
My mom and sister both blissfully sat through "It's a Wonderful Life" again on Thanksgiving weekend, while even hearing a mere snatch of that movie makes me want to scarf down a fistful of antidepressants - and join all the other women in America who are on a holiday high - except our family doctor is a Scrooge about designer drugs, leaving me to self-medicate as Clarence gets his wings with extra brandy in the eggnog.
I've given a lot of thought to why others' season of joy is my season of doom - besides the obvious fact that yuppies have drenched the holidays in ever more absurd levels of consumerism.
I think it has to do with how stressed out my mom and sister would get on Christmas Day when I was little. I remember them snapping at me; they seemed tense because of all the aprons to be sashed and potatoes to be mashed. (In our traditional Irish household, women slaved and men were waited on.)
It might be exacerbated by the stress I feel when I think of all the money I've spent on lavishing boyfriends with presents over the years, guys who are now living with other women who are enjoying my lovingly picked out presents which I'm no doubt still paying for in credit card interest charges.
I was embracing my Christmas black dog the other day when I read a Times article so scary it made my hair - and my genes - curl.
It was about how severe stress can make a woman age very rapidly and prematurely, looking years older than her chronological age, because the stress causes the DNA in our cells to shrink, and sort of curl down on itself, until the cells can no longer replicate. "When people are under stress they look haggard, it's like they age before your eyes, and here's something going on at a molecular level" that reflects that impression, said one of the researchers, Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn of the University of California at San Francisco.
So now, on top of all the stress related to having a president and vice president who scared us to death about terrorists to get re-elected, I have to be stressed about the fact that my holiday stress might cause me to turn into an old bat - instantly, just like it happened in Grimm's fairy tales, when a girl would be cursed and suddenly become a crone. Or just like this Christmas doll my sister brought home once that had an apple for a head; her face looked all juicy and white at the start of the week and then by the end of the week, it was all discolored and puckered.
I flipped through the hot new self-help book by Gordon Livingston, a psychiatrist from Columbia, Md., "Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now."
One of them is the cardinal rule of anxiety: Avoidance makes it worse; confrontation gradually improves it.
Yep. I definitely need to rip Frosty's face off.