Christmas always makes me think of zombie movies.
No, really, it does. Stop thinking about the hustle and bustle of shopping and think, instead, of silent nights. Everyone has gone to bed; streets are dark, houses quiet. And yet, lights everywhere: not enough to read by, but enough to illuminate houses and sidewalks such that a body could walk around without needing a flashlight. The odd colors cast people and buildings in strange new perspectives. And of course, the crazy shadows and shapes on lawns and roofs formed by unlit decorations. Anyone, any thing, could be out there. Isn't the true lesson of Santa Claus "You don't know who's watching, so shut up and go to sleep"?
Christmas at night carries that unspoken "Do not wake the house" vibe. Shhh. Be quiet. Move about the house navigating only by the light of the tree and the outdoor decorations. Look outside the windows and see shapes that normally aren't there. Muse upon how it's hard to tell the difference between a house with sleeping occupants and a house that has been abandoned because of outbreak. Try not to think about that scene in 28 Days Later where Jim is watching home movies late at night in his parent's house -- a quiet, shadowed house, much like the one you're in -- when an infected bursts in through the window and attacks him.
Red. Red everywhere. Worse, red contrasted with white. It doesn't get more "blood on the snow" than that. Christmas is a celebration of life while surrounded by death -- snowstorms, bitter cold, hypothermia and starvation and death. It's an embarrassment of riches, a ritualized gorging upon food and presents while lesser animals die alone in the cold. Life is always about eating, about something dying so that another can live. Blood on the snow.
Even the poem "The Night Before Christmas" teaches us to observe noise discipline, maintain vigilance at night, and beware of strangers entering the house via unorthodox and unsecured entry points. It's a good thing Santa doesn't want to kill you all in your beds, is what I'm saying. "If you're good little boys and girls, you survive to see morning" becomes a heck of a moral.
Are jingle bells for merriment, or are they an improvised perimeter alarm? Or did someone have a relative who got bitten, and so they tried to "bell the cat"? Because they don't sound merry to my ears -- they sound frantic.
So for me, the question isn't why Christmas makes me think of zombies. The question is, why doesn't it make you think of zombies?
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