For the last six weeks, I have been a lot of places and talked and talked a lot about Tinsel. One of my favorite questions that I got along the way goes something like this:
What do hope this book will do? What did you want it to be?
I can answer that. My ambitions for this book are really not very high. In my wildest dreams, Tinsel winds up cited as a footnote in someone’s dissertation 50 or 100 years or more from now (if there are still dissertations; if there are still footnotes), as a document that shows how people lived in the early 21st century. There is simply no in-depth reportage about the lives of everyday Americans in the exurban-consumer era and how they expressed themselves at the biggest cultural/commercial/quasi-spiritual moment of the year. There is now.
My other idea, which is a little Cormac McCarthy and doomsday-ish, is that someone pulls a copy of Tinsel from the rubble (of the apocalypse? The post-oil riots? The inexorable rise of the oceans?) and is able to understand it and say: This is how they lived. This is how it was when they had the most of everything — the most money, the most stuff, the biggest houses, the biggest cars, the most comfort. This is how it was when they were happiest, but, strangely when they were saddest, too. This is what it felt like, back then, at Christmastime.
Treasure this time. Savor these moments of togetherness and material bliss, and if you’ve got the spiritual part figured out, then treasure that most of all. Do Christmas in whatever way works best for you and try to worry less about making it perfect for everyone else.
And thank you for being with me through this very long story. It’s been a load of work to find and write and then promote this book, but it has brought me many moments of true joy.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.