The Middle Ages

Christmas feels bloated and broken. It should only last 12 days. Let me explain...

Half the outdoor lights don’t work. That’s OK, since I’m only half motivated to put them up. It’s too early for Christmas.

The holiday season should be limited to 12 days, as per the song. Six days leading up to Dec. 25, six days after, all the way through New Year’s Eve. That would be the ideal holiday season – sparkly, festive and self-contained.

Lately, America does everything too long: baseball season, election cycles, the Oscars. So it’s no wonder our favorite season feels bloated and broken.

Often, less is more, so a mere 12 days of Christmas would be a better, more fulfilling season.

Stores wouldn’t want that or advertisers either. They tie your personal satisfaction to hype and overspending.

I tie it to other silly things.

If there were just 12 days of Christmas, there wouldn’t be two months of holiday car commercials, and they couldn’t decorate the malls starting at Halloween.

Under this new holiday plan, the first day of Christmas would be Dec. 20, roughly coinciding with the first day of winter. It would start with bonfires, as they do in Cajun country and certain parts of Europe.

In L.A., you’d gather for bonfires at the beach. In Chicago, you’d ring the lake with them. In New York, they’d line the Hudson.

For kindling, you’d pull out all the junk from your closets that you didn’t wear or use from the previous Christmas.

On the second day of Christmas, the 21st, we’d all join in song and charity. Christmas carols, fight songs, Billy Joel ballads — wouldn’t matter. It would be a day of song. Brass bands and singers would roam the streets. Everyone would dance like Snoopy.

The third day of Christmas would be devoted to movies. You’d binge watch your favorite holiday flicks, or choose some cheesy Hallmark movie, and make popcorn, which you’d string together.

Because the fourth day of Christmas, you’d decorate the tree. Indoors and out, north to south, east to west, it would be a day devoted to trees and wreaths and poinsettias, which I include only to show that — though I’m mostly a moron — I know how to spell p-o-i-n-s-e-t-t-i-a.

On the fifth day of Christmas, we’d take a national nap. Instead of storming the stores or spending hours circling some parking garage, everyone would take a long winter’s nap. When we woke up, we’d place a fire in the fireplace and chili on the stove. Then we’d finish decorating the trees because trees, like kids, take time to finish.

On the sixth day of Christmas, the reverent 25th, we’d pray. You could pray to baby Jesus, or the Green Bay Packers. You could pray for faster internet speeds, or your Uncle William, who isn’t doing so well these days. You could pray that your neighbors’ dogs would one day just shut up.

The point is, you’d pray on a day devoted to humility, reflection and matters of the soul.

On the seventh day of Christmas, the 26th, there’d be pancakes. Dads would have to make them for everyone, burn them a little on one side, as dads often do, and serve big, steaming stacks of flapjacks dripping with syrup.

And on the seventh day, wearing your pajamas from dawn to dusk would be encouraged. All-day PJs wouldn’t carry the stigma that they do now, as when I go off to mail a package or buy a fifth of gin at noon.

On this seventh day, pancakes and PJs would rule.

On the eighth through 12th days? Oh, I don’t know. This is a festivus in progresstivus. You decide. We could play broom ball in the snow or stage a ballet on roller blades.

Me, I’d invite friends over for a long and wonderful feast, because friends are pretty swell, and you never need to exchange them if they do not fit.

So I’d wrap myself in friends — the misfits and the maniacs, the guys I play touch football with in particular, but all my friends, the mighty and the small.

Because family and friends – not iPhones and luxury sedans -- make the world go ’round. They make the holidays robust and funny and memorable. They look after us in good times and in sad.

Sure, they’re insane a lot of the time. And sometimes you just rub your face and ask, “Why? Why do I have such crazy friends? Why do my parents just make me so nuts?”

But Santa, in the end, just bring me lots of family and friends.

As the song says, all I want for Christmas is you.

Chris.Erskine@latimes.com

Twitter: @erskinetimes

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