Every year it happens without fail: I’m standing in line somewhere, perhaps at the grocery store or one of those long, cramped lines in The Mall, and someone –almost always an uptight and anxiety-ridden woman with a horde of unruly kids- spies a seasonal promotional item near the checkout that reads “Happy Holidays” and goes into a tirade about how it should read “Merry Christmas”, and bitching about how “no one knows what Christmas means”, that it’s supposed to be “about Jesus”, blah blah blah…
Every once in a while you get a real live wire who will start delivering a sermon on the spot about the “real meaning of Christmas”, ranting at the backs of weary and sighing shoppers staring straight ahead, secretly willing the line to move faster while pretending they can’t hear the fire and brimstone fallout behind them.
This happened to me right after Thanksgiving, post-Black Friday weekend. A woman in a pink parka with a grossly ornate Christmas manicure, complete with trees and glittering little red bows, pointed a wickedly bejeweled finger at me and told me I was going to hell for the design of Christmas cards I was holding. “Those are unchristian and anti-Jesus,” she said, motioning to the box of cards depicting a forest scene of squirrels, birds and black bears frolicking around a glowing winter scene. “I can’t believe you’re buying those. Disgusting. Those are pagan images. Witchcraft. Animals have nothing to do with Christmas!”
‘Yeah, well what about The Nativity?’ I offered her, hoping she’d recognize her mistake and back off. ‘There were lots of animals there witnessing the birth of Christ; cows, goats, sheep. Jesus was born in a stable, you know…where animals were kept.’
“That’s different,” she snapped, suddenly confused as she turned off, mumbling something incomprehensible under her breath at me about how “fools and mockers” were “going to Hell“.
Of course it’s different. I thought to myself. Of course it is, you ridiculous loon. Hypocrisy is always so awkward, isn’t it? Like her nasty-ass Ho-Ho-Ho-manicure.
Nasty Nails fell back behind me in line and began talking to some other people who agreed with her, and they began rudely discussing my Christmas card selection within full ear-shot of me and others as if I wasn’t even there, priding themselves on being apparently the only people left on Earth “who know what Christmas means” and how it’s up to them “to keep people educated” about it and “to call out pagan rites and customs” when they see it. I was embarrassed and, quite frankly, angry at their intrusion into my personal space but I kept quiet. Arguing with terminal idiots wasn’t a top priority on my list that day.
When I got to my car and turned the ignition, Detroit Rock City, erupted mid-play, instantly settling me back into the hard rock cocoon I had emerged from in the parking lot before encountering that cult of the vainly self-righteous.
It’s a good thing Nasty Nails doesn’t know about KISSmas.
Born in the club scene around 1994 in New York City and followed by hip urban enclaves in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle and Portland, KISSmas is an elusive yet very real tradition among lovers of the longtime American band, KISS. Every year around Christmas and New Years, Kiss fans and club owners hold KISS-themed parties either in venues or their homes, reveling in a break from tradition. There’s no Santa. No White-winged angels. No Nativity Set. They wanted the best and they got the best…the hottest new tradition, KISSmas!
From karaoke to costume contests, KISSmassers assemble to drink and make merry while KISS copy bands play all the hits. And why not? Christmas imagery and traditions over the last few decades have gotten kind of stodgy, pompous and overly commercial to the point that people argue every season over what it all means because they, themselves, have forgotten as well. The holiday season is supposed to be about goodwill, peace on Earth and a time when young and old, rich and poor come together and share a cup of good cheer. Unfortunately what it’s turned into -and even more so now with the rise of the alt.right in America- is a warped caricature of traditions besieged by religious intolerance, self-righteous buffoonery and idiotic activism, where just the kind of greeting you choose to use or the imagery on a Christmas/Holiday card can get you accosted in a checkout line.
Even Santa, the centuries-old emblem of Christmas, whose mysterious annual visit was once the winsome wish of small children, is under siege by Trumpetty religious zealots too jaded by their fear of death to remember the magical immortality of their own childhood dreams. They bring dread to Christmas. Fire and brimstone. Lumps of coal.
So it’s no wonder that some people are creating their own new Christmas traditions or flocking to non-traditional holiday entertainment events as a way to escape the Scrooges of the world and to put some fun and exuberant revelry back into the holiday season that long ago lost its cheerful appeal. Call it an act of rebellion if you must but if KISSmas brings cheer, then more power to it. God knows we all could use some after this last election.
So how does one do KISSmas? It’s easy.
If you’re going to celebrate KISSmas, the first thing you want to do is get a tree all Kissed-out. You can certainly use your old tree but to be a true-KISSmas tree you’ve got to get creative and let yourself go by forgetting all the rules and foregoing traditional decorations.
First off, black is in. So is leather, silver and zebra and leopard prints. You’re goal is to decorate the tree like it’s a leather motorcycle jacket and it’s 1982 and you’re heading to a metal show where KISS, Motley Crue and Ozzy are doing a triple-header. You should be thinking of retro KISS circa 1976-1982 but if you just envision retro 80s heavy metal in general you’ll be good.
I didn’t do a KISSmas tree this year –mostly because I had a hard time convincing my guy to go along with it– but I plan on doing one next year. I’m not exactly sure how I’ll go about it but I put together a design idea by perusing items on Amazon. You can definitely use mine as a template but I suggest designing your own as it’s really quite fun. KISSmas is all about having a good time and leaving the baggage of Christmas past behind.
The unconventional spiral black and white tree can be found at Treetopia as well an assortment of various designs to help you kick off KISSmas with a bang. If you have kids, they’re going to l0ve it. Kids love weird stuff. Kids are cool.
If you’re planning a Christmas party at your home or office… KISS it. Invite your guests to dress up as KISS or wear KISS tees. Serve cold gin and, of course, play KISS music. Only KISS music. I guarantee you it will be the best party you’ve ever thrown.
The cool thing about celebrating KISSmas I’ve noticed is, if you have a KISS fan in the family or a lot of friends who love KISS (as I do), the assortment of KISS-related gifts available on the market is astounding. There are quite literally millions of products and designs available just about anywhere you look online.
If I may make a suggestion, a great book available on KISS by author Brett Weiss, the Encyclopedia of KISS, is available at Barnes and Noble and also for download purchase at Google Play. This book makes a fantastic gift for any KISS fan you have in mind, maybe even yourself. You’ll also find Weiss has written quite a few books on video games so you’ll want to pick a few of those up, too. A complete list of Weiss’ books can be found here.
But as far as KISS gifts go, no other site has a wider selection of merchandise than the Official KISS Online Store. From tees to trinkets, autographed posters and ornaments, the KISS store is your one-stop shopping destination.
Who wouldn’t love to see this under the tree? I know I would. Perhaps if you’re good all year The KISSmas Claus may bring you one:
Personally I’d love to receive THIS. Just sayin’…
I’m certainly not advocating a blacklisting of traditional Christmas. I’m merely pointing out that Christmas means many things to many different people, and that the way someone wishes to celebrate it or express its sentiments can be –and most certainly are– personal choices that in the end express the very same things everybody wishes for: Joy
So where ever Christmas finds you this season, no matter how you choose to celebrate it -or not- keep in mind that the holiday season should be a time when we all focus upon the people we love and the things in life we sometimes forget about. Peace. Happiness. Friendship. If how someone else chooses to express those seasonal traditions upsets you or causes you anxiety, the problem isn’t them –it’s you. They haven’t forgotten what Christmas means. You have. And there’s just not any other way to put it.
HAPPY HOLIDAYS and MERRY KISSmas!