I meant for this to be a longer entry, posted on Tuesday. December got in the way. I should have a review of Hanukkah Lights next week. In the meantime…
The headlights picked out something
scarlet in the distance. Something with
runners. Something piled with sacks full
of parcels. Beside it stood a rotund man in
red, his fur-trimmed hood thrown back to
reveal one of those big, greenish headsets
that airline pilots wear, the microphone
boom just in front of his snowy beard.
I’ll admit it, as a kid, one of my biggest problems with Santa Claus was, how a guy with a sleigh and reindeer managed to visit every house everywhere in only 24 hours. (My other problem was how he’d get into my house since we had a furnace and no fireplace. Flying reindeer, strangely, weren’t a blip on my radar.) If I’d been given this sci-fi tale, I might have been a believer a little longer.
“Would you like some music? It’s Christmas back on Earth.”
“Christmas?” repeated Stabler doubtfully. He wasn’t much for holidays. They were wasted on someone like him with no family or friends outside of the cubic meter of Mona’s processor in its armored case just aft of the airlock; but he did like music, and Mona had some five hundred years’ worth of it to draw upon. “Sure, play some Christmas carols or something. Merry Christmas, Mona.”
It’s the night of Christmas, what’s stirring in the asteroid belt?
Of all the old festivals, however, that of Christmas awakens the strongest and most heartfelt associations. There is a tone of solemn and sacred feeling that blends with our conviviality, and lifts the spirit to a state of hallowed and elevated enjoyment.
This story led to me realize what I hate about nostalgia. I don’t have anything against looking at the past fondly. I do it. I enjoy reading other’s memories of the past. My problem comes when the person doing the remembering insists that the past is absolutely, positively, without question better than the present. Further, the present utterly lacks, the past is ruined, and the future is utterly dark. That’s the attitude that rubs wrong the futurist in me. In this piece, Irving is too interested in slamming his present. How, oh how, have we managed to exist in the 200 years since you wrote these pieces, Mr. Irving?