Friday, December 26, 2008

The Execution of All Things

I pulled into the Century City mall parking garage two weekends before Christmas. I had Jon's parking key card so I could park in his work building a block over if it became too Jack Bauer for me. I turned the corner and BAM, a sea of green lights - parking galore. Buy one space, get one half off. How could this be? Two weeks before Christmas and a Louis Vuitton to plunder?

The answer, I assume, is this recession. (Depression if you've already lost your job.) Even in Los Angeles, where we can't even park our own cars, we feel the effects. From all I hear (thanks NPR), this is gonna be a long, painful process. We're all being a little wiser (drip instead of latte) with our consumption, I'd like to believe that we'll come out of this smarter and maybe shed a few bad habits. Perhaps pick up a few good ones as well.

These are a few things I'd like to see at the end of this black, thorn infested rainbow.

I live in a city where 70 degrees is considered freezing. Surfing and skiing are each less than an hour away. You can drive 30 minutes and hike where there is no trace of civilization. And it's all free! With gas actually costing more than Evian, we can all spend less time in our cars and more time enjoying the environment we pay such a premium for.

Now that we're outside more, when we eventually make our way inside, we can actually use those fancy Sub-Zero appliances in our gourmet kitchens. (I don't have one, but everyone else does.) Cooking will always be cheaper than eating out. Since we're going to the market now, we can do without the junk food we found so convenient. Goodbye Flaming Hot Cheetos.

Okay, it's hard to get rid of what we've been doing all along. We might always live in our cars and Tito's Tacos is just so good and easy. But one thing I really hope we might take from this is how we think of Christmas. Let me tell you right now that I'm not versed on the adventures of baby Jesus. I know Christmas as it is now: a consumer extravaganza. We charge it up and start the next year in debt. Why? What do these gifts represent? Sometimes I find myself giving only because I feel I may receive. But it all seems a bit empty, like a big exchange of goods under the false impression of selflessness and Peas on Earth.

So as I wrapped each gift this year, I put my whole heart into it. Not so much that it's what I'm supposed to do, but because it's what I wanted to do. Yeah, it seems kinda Sesame Street, but this holiday will only stop being a chore if our intent changes. Sure, we still have to do our office White Elephants and bribery to our mechanics (Hey, I need to be able to drop off my car on Saturdays), but maybe we can try this a little differently this time. I figured we have a couple more Christmases to get used to it. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night (a few hours late)!