Archived Opinion

A Christmas swap shop atop a mountain – now that’s the spirit

Listen! Did you hear that? I’ve been hearing it for weeks now, the faint but steadily growing whisper of something approaching. From the east, I hear ... Dum, dummity, dum, dum! Me and my drummm ....” Heard that, didn’t you? And now, from the west ...“Three French hens, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear treeeee ...


It is getting louder, and in a couple of weeks, it will have the blare of a Souza march. Just this morning, I thought I saw the hint of snow in the air .... but, no, it was a sprinkle of those confetti icicles that we traditionally drape on the limbs of a butchered Frazer fir ... tiny harbingers of an approaching storm that will leave us all badly shaken and possibly bankrupt. Christmas is coming! Yikes! Run, run!

For many of us, there is no place to run. If you are a member of that minority who find the holidays an exercise in shameless exploitation; if you resent the blatant media enticements that slyly pervert biblical injunctions (It’s the season for giving!), then you are left with some unpleasant options. Either quit whining and render up your credit cards, or slink into the outer darkness to guiltily contemplate your shortcomings (childless, unchristian, alone, unlovable, etc.)

In recent years, the “holiday season” has increasingly resembled a state of siege. I feel like those people in Florida who store water and nail sheets of plywood over their front doors. (As the bleat of Christmas carols reach hurricane level, we can retreat to the basement!) When I see those Florida folks gridlocked on the interstate as they attempt to flee, I realize that there is one significant difference in hurricane victims and “holiday objectors.” I doubt that there are enough of us to create a gridlock on the interstate.

Last year, I did another “anti-holidays” article in which I found much in common with that old Christmas spoil-sport, the Grinch. I concluded with the suggestion that we should establish an alternate holiday.

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There were a few basic rules. We would all meet somewhere like a remote mountaintop or maybe the parking lot at Wal-mart where we would hold a kind of “swap-meet” (exchange books, CDs, DVDs,) socialize and gossip. Our exchanged gifts would be items that we already owned or that we had created ourselves (No Barbies, Playstations or iPods.) The atmosphere would resemble that of a family reunion with picnic lunches. We would stay there, maybe slow dancing to boom-boxes until the danger had passed ... or until the holidays had retreated. Only when the last refrains of “The Little Drummer Boy” were heard retreating beyond the horizon would we venture homewards. We could call it Grinch Day.

It isn’t a bad idea. The biggest problem would be that we would be strangers ... meeting for the first time and nervous, perhaps. But, that would only be true for this year. Next year, we would be a real reunion!.

(Gary Carden is a writer and storyteller who lives in Sylva. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..)

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