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An endearing feature of the forest where my family harvests our Christmas tree each year is the lack of mobile phone service.
The hours spent there are a respite from the collective nightmare dreamed on the internet. Our phones are useful only as cameras or paperweights protecting napkins from the breeze. We scout, hike, talk to one another and reflect. At first it seems unnaturally silent, but after some time to settle in and adjust, the liveliness of the Gila can be heard even by ears attuned to city life.
After a moment of dull shock at the loss of their electronics, my children’s bodies take over and they begin running and climbing, nimble and mischievous.
By nightfall, our lovely nine-foot tree was up in our living room, decorated and lit up, signaling holiday cheer through our living room window. Aside from basic fire safety and making sure the thing doesn’t fall down on top of our cats, we gave little thought to the tree’s own security.
Yet if you believe the internet, this is a dangerous year to be a Christmas tree.
This is definitely the case at Fox News, which harvested days’ worth of content from the burning of a 50-foot Christmas tree it had erected in front of its Manhattan headquarters. Police charged an unhoused man they say was intoxicated when he set it alight.
Unappeased, Fox anchors and commentators connected various dots, like the floaters that bounce around in one’s eyes, to more sinister currents in society.
Numerous programs referred to the incident as a hate crime, a “desecration of faith,” part of a “war on religion,” a sign of cultural decay in cities with Democratic mayors, and further evidence that “no one is safe.” The incident fit beautifully into Fox’s perennial war-on-Christendom narrative.
The tree, meanwhile, was quietly replaced.
Last weekend, Kentucky congressman Thomas Massie famously published a picture of himself and six family members posing with firearms in front of what was surely the best-protected tree in his state. Surprisingly, he also disclosed a potential vulnerability, writing: “Santa, please bring ammo.”
Ordinarily, one should never advertise they are short on munitions, especially during a permanent siege, but we may excuse this gaffe since it is well known there is currently a nationwide ammunition shortage.
With holiday cards showing families displaying armaments recently normalized, it was no surprise to learn Santa Claus may have concerns for his own safety.
Last week, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office in Colorado Springs posted a photograph of a jolly-looking bearded man in red overalls with pen in hand. “Guess who came in to receive his Concealed Handgun Permit today?” the office wrote in a tweet.
It was clever move by Santa, signaling to children who might have ideas about staying up on Christmas Eve to pester him: Saint Nick is packing, kids. Stay in bed.
Guess who came in to receive his Concealed Handgun Permit today? 🎅
Did you know the El Paso County Sheriff's Office has issued 49,750 Concealed Handgun Permits with another 2,560 awaiting to be issued?
For more info please visit our website: https://t.co/AbGrPigOUZ pic.twitter.com/ELmffXcfjA
— EPCSheriff (@EPCSheriff) December 3, 2021
America has not taken up the European tradition of Krampusnacht, typically observed on Dec. 5, when men dress up as a horned, demonic figure with pagan roots (like our Christmas trees) to frighten naughty children and make mischief while St. Nicholas purportedly rewards the good children: A playful tension between tumult and peace.
Instead, America’s shared dream, carried permanently in our pocket electronic devices, is dark and fortified: A dream of a country viciously divided, hostile and gleefully preparing for violence in the year to come. Krampus would be lost in this nightmare.
How to rescue holiday good will? Leave your phone on a charger. Visit a forest. Play music. Read to children. Mull wine. Spend time with, and show love, to friends and family.
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This article originally appeared on Las Cruces Sun-News: 'Santa, please bring ammo.' Internet is having a dark Christmas