Merry Christmas ― and don’t feel guilty

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Merry Christmas ― and don’t feel guilty

The worst thing about Christmas is how, just when you’re waxing joyful with the season, you happen upon some newspaper column designed to make you miserable. One written by some self-righteous twit who’s telling you that you have no right to be happy at this time of year, since homelessness is up and there’s no snow in Africa and it’s all your fault.
What is it with newspaper columnists? Why the need to inflict yuletide guilt on unsuspecting readers?
Not this columnist. Still haunted by Christmas articles past about families living under the freeway, and TV specials about Ethiopian kids with fly-covered faces, I’ve resolved to make this Christmas column completely guilt-free.
And to help you enjoy Christmas Eve in Itaewon, I’m providing tips so you can get through the night without any qualms or misgivings whatsoever.
First, leave the main drag. Why? Because it has homeless people (well, a couple). To revel guiltlessly, you need to avoid them. Linger near the boulevard and you might bump into one, then feel contrite all night because he’s schizophrenic and you’re not.
The safest place to go is the Grand Hyatt hotel. There you can breathe easy in a festive, luxurious, bum-free environment, peopled exclusively with those as or more fortunate than you.
Yes, it’ll just be you and a bunch of other cashmere-coated, money-grubbing materialists, spending more on a round of shots than a Gaeseong factory worker makes in a month.
You’ll be drawn to the spectacular views out the hotel’s floor-to-ceiling windows. But don’t go there. Otherwise, you’ll look down on the slums of Gangnam and realize that, because of the foreigner-built hotel you’re in, the natives below are now deprived of the Mount Namsan views that their ancestors enjoyed for centuries.
And avoid the Hyatt’s 15-foot Christmas tree, over by the front desk. Sure, it’s awe-inspiring, but gaze at it long enough and you’ll start counting its hundreds of lights. Then it you’ll realize that all the trees out front and back have thousands and thousands more.
Then you’ll start wondering just how much power that’s consuming, and before long it’ll occur to you that just over the DMZ, people are shivering and starving in the dark.
You can go down to the bar, JJ Mahoney’s. But avoid the outdoor area, which abuts the hotel’s lovely ice-skating rink. If you get a look at that, you’re liable to remember that the Yanomamo Indians of southern Venezuela are so poor and deprived that they don’t even have a word in their language for ice.
Bah. This isn’t working. You know, maybe you should just stay home.
Yes, stay home and think about the true meaning of Christmas: the birth of Jesus Christ.
But then again, didn’t our savior’s folks have no place to stay on the night he was born? Meanwhile, you’re all snug and warm and about to eat some pie.
Ah, forget it. Merry Christmas to all, even to the homeless ― especially that poor old guy who’s always carrying his cardboard bed around and shouting at phantoms. You know the one. Let’s hope he finds a warm place to sleep tonight.

by mike ferrin
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