Christmas Is Coming

Sunday

Just a few days until Christmas. As usual, everyone’s going crazy. One of my closest friends, an ultra-tall, very beautiful young single mother, is frantic because all of her friends have been posting pictures of all of the presents they have wrapped up under the Christmas tree. But she hasn’t wrapped hers yet and her daughter might feel “less than…” if she doesn’t soon post scenes of lavish gifts for this kid, who is not even nine years old.

I mean, she is beyond frantic. Just wild. She even yelled at me when I told her that it was all small potatoes compared with the fact that she has a mother who is a full-time Mom and can spend all day with her after school — unlike 99 percent of her friends. When I tried to reason with her, she hung up on me.

Then there’s Miss X, another single Mom who is an “artist.” She has a real life grievance that makes sense. Her landlord is tormenting her with attorney letters to evict her so he can raise the rent on her rent-controlled apartment. She’s been in bed crying for days. She wants to move but she can’t afford the movers and she doesn’t know where to move to in any event. Plus, she’s in terrible health.

Then there’s Miss Z, a staggeringly gorgeous former beauty queen facing prison time for some vehicular crime that I could not understand.

She’s also broke. She was set to ask a well-heeled mutual friend for money for an attorney but she decided to go to a birthday party instead.

There are some common denominators here. Lack of money is the main one. Lack of the Christmas Spirit is another one. What’s the point of even having Christmas if it’s all about showing off gifts on the Internet? That’s a criminal betrayal of what God’s Love even means. Does this woman think that God judges people by how many Christmas gifts they show on Facebook? Or that Christianity or Judaism or any religion at all is about posting boasts of ever greater materialism online?

The whole idea of the Messiah, as I understand Him, is that he intercedes between God and fallen man to get mercy for man. Does that evil landlord think he’s going to heaven for dragging an ill woman out of bed and throwing her out on the street?

And what about Miss Z? She’s not going to like prison. Christmas does not excuse stupidity and lack of prioritizing.

Meanwhile, on the Military History Channel some truly horrifying films of Nazi and Red Army atrocities are showing. Mass rapes and murders of women and girl children. Killing innocent people with baling wire used for hanging. Civilians starving by the millions and freezing to death.

And here we are in America and we’re at peace and our problems are whether we have posted photos of our kids’ wrapped up toys in a timely fashion and whether we’ll be forced to move to a luxury apartment in Palm Desert or a smaller unit in Beverly Hills. And whether we should skip our friend’s birthday party to maybe avoid going to prison. (Nahhh.)

Wifey and I live in a gated community down here. The food at the clubhouse is stupendously good. It’s quiet and safe and everyone is friendly. I sometimes feel as if all of America is a gated community. I’d like to keep it that way unless the people who come in swear to be grateful.… But we already have way too many nuts in our gated nation and their main symptom is lack of gratitude. Maybe just my wife and my dog and I are the only gated community that counts. When we light the Hanukah candles we mainly thank God for the men and women who fought for us and who still fight for us — from the Rancho Mirage Police to the United States Marines, from the men who died at Bataan to the men and women who patrol Beverly Hills.

Baby, it’s cold outside. But inside, the fire of gratitude for this glorious America keeps us warm.

Ben Stein
Ben Stein
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Ben Stein is a writer, actor, economist, and lawyer living in Beverly Hills and Malibu. He writes “Ben Stein’s Diary” for every issue of The American Spectator.
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