Christmas can be one of the most romantic and joyous times of the year. Or it can be a real kick in the nuts. We all know our shared mythology for this holiday season – jolly ol’ St. Nick; his industrious, yet uncomplaining, elven workforce; flying reindeer, with or without glowing noses. But the mythos paints a much more personal picture, as well. The story with which we are inundated is of a cozy family sharing lavish presents around a richly decorated tree. Of course, if you don’t have that rosy-cheeked family, or any family, or you can’t afford a tree, let alone presents, then the only part of the Christmas season you might feel connected to is the fantasy of the magical old guy, his little friends, and the freakin’ cold.
Luckily, here we can recognize and celebrate that every story doesn’t end with the Grinch finding his heart; some stories end with a drunken tumble in a dingy warehouse. Yet, as we fumble and fight our way through these times of mass cultural expectation, we can find hope, and even a home of sorts, together in our shared struggle to do our best. Our best for our kids, our lovers, our parents and siblings and friends, and hopefully, we can even do our best for ourselves. This might mean accepting that each Christmas isn’t going to be a figgie pudding feast; sometimes Christmas will be lukewarm Chinese takeaway; and maybe if we acknowledge that it is hard to live up to the ideals we see at every turn, we can all feel a little better about our own realities.
With these two short plays, we are allowed to enter a world in which, regardless of how familiar it feels, we are all invited to the party, we are all encouraged to let loose, and we are all expected to take it easy and enjoy ourselves. As “The Night Before Christmas” director Luanne Moldovan says, these irreverent takes on traditional holiday fare upend the notion of our yuletide mythology and turn our notion of commercialism on its head. Seeing the dire, even fatal, consequences a gift grab can have puts the reason for the season in perspective.
The Christmas Season should be a time of generously given love and spirit-calming peace shared with every member of our community, a time when magic cookies and Christmas Spirit are plentiful (and non-addictive). And if we can’t have that, then at least we can come together for a good laugh. Merry f’ing Christmas!