The culture wars took an odd turn this year. Rather than the annual assault on Starbucks for serving Pike’s Place in “Happy Holidays” cups instead of “Merry Christmas” containers, Peloton became this season’s corporate villain for airing a TV commercial featuring a rail-thin young woman in spandex receiving a pricey tricked-out Peloton stationary bike from her body-shaming husband. Or something like that. Emotions run high during the holidays.
Now we go forward, boldly into the future! 2020 is upon us. A New Year. A new beginning. That brings its own pressures.
The mall madness is in the rearview mirror. We survived Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the gridlock of get-away day. The packed flights back east arrived safely despite weather delays and caterwauling infants. We stuffed the stockings and before the day was out, our bellies, too. Old family favorites, circulated on special platters used only once a year, Christmas Day.
While a joyous occasion, Christmas is freighted with a melancholy subtext. We feel disappointment if we’ve allowed expectations to get unreasonably high, or perhaps it’s a sense of dread another year has flown by. How many more gatherings will there be? We remember who used to sit in each empty chair with the knowledge someday it will be our chair that sits empty.
Christmas is a retrospective holiday, each year in competition with the memories of Christmases past.
Luckily, New Year’s Day comes one week later. The New Year is a forward-looking holiday made for resolutions and fresh beginnings, where hopes are high even if our heads are throbbing from too much celebrating the night before. However, once you get to my age, ringing in a New Year presents new challenges. Resolutions were so much easier when I was a terrible person.
Every December 31st meant my last cigarette, my last sip of booze or my last double-fudge chocolate chip cookie. Year after year, the turn of the calendar represented one more step towards a better Doug McIntyre as vice after vice fell away like the strands of hair from a balding man’s head.
Now, after decades of personal improvement, I’ve finally reached a state of physical and moral perfection that has left me confronting a new New Year’s dilemma: what do I resolve to do now that I’ve done it all?
I’ve read “War and Peace,” taken art lessons, listened to The Wife’s language tapes, gave to a charity, didn’t call the cops on the neighbor’s loud party, recycled, said hello to a stranger, resisted telling my brother-in-law he’s a lunkhead even though he is, I didn’t bring up impeachment during Christmas dinner and I even washed a dish. In other words, what’s left? What now? Is my only goal the continuation of life as I currently live it? Is that how I can make the world a better place?
Now, if you ask The Wife, she may see things differently. It is possible I may have missed a thing or two I could still work on. Yet, I feel like this is the finished product. I’m no longer a work-in-progress. Of course, if this is true, that makes me one of the least desirable Americans, a man who doesn’t want anything.
I’m not buying a Peloton bike, not even if they throw in the attractive brunette from the commercial. I drink my coffee at home these days, so Starbucks can wish Satan happy birthday for all it matters to me.
We stayed at home this Christmas, therefore the fearmongering on the evening news about snow in the east, delays and long lines at LAX float in one ear and out the other like a Tom Steyer for president commercial. I buy what I buy and I’m not changing brands or cutting the cord or yearning for 5G.
The 2020 campaign can roll on. I already know how I’m voting, don’t you? It’s amazing how fewer pills you have to take when you no longer care.
2020 promises to be my best year yet; the year when I’m okay with who I am. It only took 62 years to get here.
Doug McIntyre’s column appears Sundays in the Daily Breeze and LA Daily News. He can be reached at: Doug@DougMcIntyre.com.