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Christmas Time, Goodwill Toward Mankind

11 Nov

from April 30, 2007

Walking through New York City during December can be a joyous experience. Look at the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center, and the lights and decorations. Look at the skaters, young and old, all spinning, skating, or at least trying to stay upright as the throngs of holiday shoppers look down and smile. See the displays at Macy’s, the lights of Times Square, the sounds of Chinatown. Experience Little Italy. People from all across the globe come to New York this time of  year, all helping to bring the season to a wonderful crescendo, whether you celebrate Hanukah,  Christmas, or just love the whole magical aura of this time of year.

But keep away from me. I’m staying in Brooklyn.

Who needs all these people? Most of them come from Podunk Iowa or Grabass Wisconsin and just walk around with their jaws hanging open and “gee whiz” looks in their eyes as they block traffic, slow down the lines in stores, and ask stupid questions. Tourists. People from New York are just better than everyone else. You know it too. Go anywhere and you’ll see. People in other cities are all hayseeds, jerks, or French. It isn’t too bad if you, Mr. or Miss New Yorker, are the tourist. A well-planned group of New Yorkers can take over any town, burg, or city in this country. But we are merciful and let them think they count so we don’t take over. Yet.

But let thousands of tourists come here and they screw it all up. Christmas time comes and suddenly it takes 45 minutes for my pizza to be delivered. Go into a bagel store and there’s a line of rubes buying flavored cocoa. Try to walk down a street and there’s a smelly guy in a Santa suit begging me for money. He’s not a tourist, just a Salvation Army guy, but he pisses me off too.

Just last week I was trying to buy a newspaper in lower Manhattan and some family of tourists, with a pair of cute little twin girls, asked me for directions to FAO Schwartz. They were from Dayton Ohio, they explained, and were here for the holidays. It was little Suzie and Sally’s first Christmas in the city and they wanted to buy them something special. “Get out of my way,” I said. “You’re going to make me miss my train.”

But none of this is to say that I hate the holidays. No, no, I hate people, not holidays. The holidays are great. The lights, the sounds, the spirit. I even like gift giving. Sometimes I even do it. There is nothing better than the look on someone’s face when they open the present I’ve carefully picked out (the day before at the 99 cent store) and wrapped (thrown into a bag from the 99 cent store) and  maybe I got someone to pick out and sign a card for me. Of course, there is actually one thing better than gift giving and that’s gift getting. (I’ll get back to this on December 26th and let you know how this turned out.)

Holiday season is also when teachers get a week off. Trust me- it isn’t enough time. There is so much to do- TV, DVD, CD, MP3, sleeping, reading. How can I fit it all into one measly week? And sometimes I even have to see other people.

So as this amazing festival of love and peace approaches, please remember a few simple rules.

1- Don’t cut me off in traffic.

2- Have your money ready at the checkout. I am not going to wait while you find your little bag of pennies, grandma.

3- Remember that New Yorkers are not all rude. But I am so leave me alone.

4- It does not matter if I haven’t given you a gift. The holiday spirit is the spirit of giving, so give me stuff. (And I don’t do thank you notes.)

5- Special rules for unmarried women and mistletoe apply. Please see addendum 14.

So I wish you all Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, Kooky Kwanzaa, or whatever else all this multi-cultural nonsense has thrown our way.

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