We would like to hark back to the 1951 Perry Como classic Christmas song “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas.” Waxing nostalgic, the song illustrates a cheerful collage of cherished, warm and fuzzy images that state Christmas is in the air, bringing back memories when times were better and the yuletide, slower and more pleasant. Those halcyon days when mornings were nippier and cleaner and people were kinder and gentler are all gone now.
Donning Ebenezer Scrooge’s nightcap and slippers allows us a wry commentary on what we’ve turned into over the years, comparing old memories against what’s become all too familiar.
Starting with the benign and quickly worsening to the more toxic, indulge us a short and necessarily incomplete hodgepodge pastiche of the latent signs that a curmudgeon’s Christmas is just around the corner.
Along Fifth Avenue in New York, you know it’s Christmas when department stores start playing Dean Martin’s “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” while street corner Santas ask shoppers to drop a bill inside their Salvation Army crocks.
In the Philippines, the equivalent musical default is any of Jose Mari Chan’s compositions sung by the songwriter himself.
The musicality of Christmas, however, quickly deteriorates into a profound dirge whose lyrics tell of the failure of our social welfare systems as we turn to carolers along street corners.
Here street urchins and beggars with improvised instruments attempt at thinly disguised carols. The Christmas songs are unimportant. It’s really just begging acclimatized for the yuletide season.
Take away the music and what we see are the armies of indigenous peoples transported from some far-away boondocks, collected from their homes and distributed beneath dank and dirty flyovers and street curbs to do nothing but beg.
The seasonal proliferation of upland indigenous people beggars is not so much a sign of social neglect as they are indicative of a criminal organization’s presence and their financial wherewithal employed to heartlessly snatch these victims from their communities, later to scatter them en masse along our unforgiving concrete gutters right where we throw our garbage.
Speaking of garbage, you know that Christmas is near when the year-long elusive garbage collector suddenly and quite menacingly appears at your door, rings the bell and personally delivers white paper envelopes on which are written their names.
Somehow these envelopes create a degree of tense and uncomfortable imperatives. It’s rather unnerving. In the back of your mind, but not as deep into the subconscious depths as you would hope it to be, you end up conjuring images of uncollected garbage throughout the coming year should you fail to surrender a satisfactory amount, whatever that might be.
Long after Christmas, the mental threat will always be there if you simply include in your trash the very envelope they’ve left at your doorstep.
Speaking of threats from the people you expect to be making life easier as they comprise the critical services for which we pay higher and ever higher taxes, there is one that will be increasing as the yuletide comes around and approaches that Christmas morning we all look forward to as symbolic of love and kindness.
In the metropolis everything starts to look a lot like Christmas when those mulcting cabals of traffic enforcers turn especially eager to stop motorists for the slightest, even non-existent violations that don’t even appear in the books.
The seasonal surge in their diligence is a function of their pay scales, the number of families they support and the expenses they will be incurring in the coming days. Note the same surge in diligence occurs right before school opens when tuitions need to be paid or whenever large disbursements are expected.
These crooks will be joined by their bigger cousins this Christmas. Look upwards. Recklessly hung on power lines are the banners of candidates greeting the electorate a “Merry Christmas” at this final season of giving just before the 2019 election campaign period starts.