The Holiday Treason

Yes. I’m one of those people.

I’m upset by people who think July (or November, for that matter) is an appropriate time to sing songs about chestnuts roasting on a fire, open or otherwise, sleigh bells or softly falling snow. I believe in the sanctity of holiday lives; that the concept of a daily celebration of some kind is ridiculous; that not every single month needs a holiday; that it’s okay for, say, August to exist on its own, not for the way-too-early precursor to the upcoming autumn season (read: Halloween and/or Thanksgiving). I don’t need two months worth of Valentine’s Day signage anymore than I need the entirety-of-fall’s worth of Christmas decorations.

This line of thinking creates two things: 1) a general leaning toward not caring about the holiday season (as the end of each year is now recognized as) and 2) my speaking out about said displeasure (and, I suspect, a general desire for people around me to ignore my easy to follow rules and do whatever they want anyway, on purpose, more than likely). It’s an overcorrection, to be sure, and I’ll admit that I don’t really even like going that far, but the relentless onslaught of Christmas-before-December (in case you are unsure, Christmas is the big culprit here) makes it difficult to feel any other way.

I could lie and tell you that most of this is about the misrepresentation of Christmas as a religion-free holiday, and while this plays into it, I’m honestly less bothered by this fact; frankly, the removal of the “Christ” in Christmas ordeal is another problem for another blog. It really comes down to a few major issues, all of which, I’m assuming, have larger contexts in which they live, but in this case manifest as problems with the holiday season.

For one, people jumping the gun messes with the order of things, and this is a big issue for me. I like when things move according to plan and get (very) uneasy when that doesn’t happen. So when I walk into a Target in the middle of November and see the not-so-discreet Christmas aisle popping up in a corner behind the Halloween candy and costumes, I swear I want to burn down the building (don’t even get me started on how Halloween isn’t a holiday anyway…). When they don’t even bother to recognize that Thanksgiving is even happening (save, maybe, for a small, nearly illegible sign reminding us of the date in select stores), it’s almost enough to make it so I never go back there again (and if they didn’t make the face soap that I like so much there, I just might). I just want life to unfold as it should, not for all of the seasons to tumble out at once like a bunch of Scrabble tiles; try spelling a word with that random mess.

Secondly, I feel like the massive marketability of Halloween and Christmas leave poor Thanksgiving left out in the proverbial cold. I really like Thanksgiving for its lack of big show feel; it’s dinner, it’s family, it’s for the most part free from fluff (unless there are marshmallows, but I can stand to do without them). There’s no mascot or spokesperson, no lights or decorations, unless you count the autumnal themed decor, but I let that slide because it’s seasonal, not holiday specific (plus, the cornucopia is an underutilized decorating piece, in my opinion). We don’t show enough thankfulness in our society, and I count this true of myself as well, so it seems to me to be imperative that we spend more time focusing on that instead of skipping straight from goofiness (Halloween) to greediness (Christmas); the irony of saying how thankful we are and then moments later scouring the Black Friday ads is not lost on me.

Lastly (at least for this purpose) is that it feels exhausting to me. Once the summer is over, the holidays seem to come pretty fast and furious with little relenting or time to breathe. It’s constantly this season or that season, and we’re encouraged to spend money on this new costume trend or enough candy to feed a small army (of children) or presents that will be opened and soon forgotten. I spend a pretty fair amount of cash, and I’m not even that invested in the vastness of it; I can only imagine how much those who care about blow up Santas, lights on every inch of their houses or other decorative insanity dole out from year to year to keep updating the look. I’m all for self-expression, but this just feels vain to me; vain and empty. Living during this time is exhausting enough, keeping up with all that nonsense would probably kill me. So I choose not to. I listen to a few select Christmas albums once the calendar flips to December and buy presents for family and a few friends, but otherwise, I stay away from it. I love giving gifts, so that part isn’t the problem, and I don’t inherently despise Christmas, despite what those around me might say; I just don’t buy into all the glitz of it.

So this Christmas–my first married to a woman whose opinion of the holidays differs greatly from mine–will be different. Last year, our first Christmas together, was sort of different, but I also had the freedom not to do things (and, in reality, a much ballyhooed Christmas calendar ended up mostly forgotten due to E’s final exams and pure exhaustion from school), a freedom I don’t possess as much this year. But I’m hoping we’ll find the middle ground.

Just last night there was discussion at E’s parents’ house about the massive number of Christmas light shows to see in the area, although when I say “in the area,” what I really mean is “within the state of South Carolina,” since apparently that’s how far some are willing to drive for Christmas lights. I told E that I could probably suffer one overly-decorated neighborhood, and she just smiled at me, either because she already knew that or because she didn’t want to hear it. She knows this isn’t my thing, but I suspect I’ll be seeing more than my fair share of Christmas lights this year (can we all at least agree that lights are lights are lights?).

I don’t want to come across as Grinchy or Scroogey here. I don’t think I’m being unfair in saying that I’m overwhelmed by the onslaught of Christmas and holidays during this time of year, and that by the time December arrives, I’m worn out and finished with it. Add to this that I’m also just excited for a break from work, to refresh and get my mind ready for another semester, I hope you can see why being told that I hate Christmas, that I’m committing some kind of crime by not being the most gung-ho Christmas fanatic on the planet feels disingenuous to me. It isn’t true. I don’t hate Christmas. I just hate being told I have to love the parts of it that Hallmark, Wal-Mart and my local mall tell me I have to love.

Christmas isn’t even about those things. Even the Grinch understands that.

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