They can’t completely ruin Christmas — the commercialization, the gaudy lights, the atrocious, omnipresent, fake-happy “holiday” music that is the very antithesis of holy (it’s just “day” music if you think about it). Then the constant pressure to buy, buy, buy, and want, want, want. The ads would lead us to believe that twin new cars are a normal Christmas gift for spouses.
Then we have all the helpful holiday advice from the media. Since the election of the orange-haired guy, the media tells us that every family has at least one “toxic” member, so civil family gatherings are no longer possible without their “expert” help, offered in long, folksy articles that sow suspicion and fuel prejudices. Without their totally unbiased help, you might remain completely unaware that your uncle or cousin is definitely a Nazi, and that the rest of your family is decidedly un-woke and therefore has nothing useful to contribute to society, let alone dinner-table conversation.
Yep. The onslaught of crassness, exploitation, and greed is relentless. It has pretty well denuded of any meaning the civil holidays like Memorial Day and Independence Day. It almost took out Veteran’s Day, but being at constant war for two generations has breathed new life into it, courtesy of dead and wounded warriors and their families. Easter is now just baskets and bunnies to all but the most devout. And yet it hasn’t ruined Christmas (although it’s a little tattered around the edges).
(Halloween survives, and grows in popularity each year. It’s easy to see why. It’s the anti-Christmas. It’s the one day of the year when you can acknowledge and even celebrate the darker urges openly and safely.)
But Christmas somehow laughs off the onslaught’s attempts to co-opt it. It succeeds in giving people a few weeks each year to be joyful, generous, sentimental, and child-like rather than cynical and worldly. Nobody’s going to mock you for watching It’s a Wonderful Life or Charlie Brown Christmas for the 84th time, and if they do, you can call them Grinch or Scrooge and the joke’s on them. Christmas remains irony-proof.
So, every year we get new attempts at Christmas entertainment. Miss Bennet is one of those: a sentimental look at Mary, the sister who is the quintessential forgotten middle child from Jane Austen’s Pride and Predjudice. This production gives Mary her day in the sun, though it’s England, so probably no actual sun. It runs through Dec. 23rd at New Village Arts theater in Carlsbad.