It’s that time of year again, when rampant consumerism meets Yuletide cheer. And people across the board are relatively unsure to feel about it. I feel that this is for two reasons: we’re getting older and becoming to privy to the realities of life, and also we have changing attitudes regarding traditions and holidays in general.
As acknowledged by one of my roommates, “It’s hard being a college student, working in retail and getting into the holiday spirit.”
As older individuals, we have the privilege (or the misfortune), of recognizing everything that goes into making a holiday special. It’s a whole lot of toil and strife, but it’s worth it in the end. For most people at least. But during that period of struggle and turmoil, it can almost seem like it’s not.
And it’s perfectly all right not to be festive for the entire month. Frankly, the holiday season is taxing enough, considering most businesses begin catering to it immediately after Halloween, and it takes precedence over Thanksgiving. We’re inundated with it, and it’s ok to not be “in the spirit” 24/7. After all, with the exception of Hanukkah, it’s a holi-DAY. As in a period of 24 hours.
It’s one thing to celebrate the “12 Days of Christmas,” but to celebrate it for almost two months prior is a bit ridiculous.
There’s also nothing “Scrooge-like” about finding Christmas songs irritating. They’re overplayed. End of story. At my job, even regular songs are overplayed. Listen to the radio, popular songs are overplayed. Our culture has an unhealthy obsession with ruining perfectly good things. Why get into the spirit so early? By the time it matters, we’ll all be petered out!
No one has supremacy over the holiday either. Christmas may be the most popular, since we’re in America, but it’s by far not the only holiday being celebrated around the same time. It wasn’t even the first! Saturnalia is an older holiday that celebrates a demigod, born of a virgin, on the 25th of December. Hell, all of the token hallmarks of the holiday: the tree, stockings, mistletoe, reindeer, the colors of Santa Claus, are all Pagan–German in origin. Christmas trees don’t grow in the Middle East. Damn, even normal trees have trouble growing in the desert.
It’s definitely not the place to go be an arborist or even a carpenter.
One doesn’t even have to be religious to celebrate the holidays. Not only is there Festivus (for the rest of us), but even though I’m an atheist, I still celebrate “Christmas” with my family. Even though what we’ve always celebrated never really had any religious affiliation to begin with, the important elements are always constant, and constant of all major holidays: family, love and food.
What we celebrate as Christmas has been severely co-opted by corporate America; it’s moved well beyond the secular and into something legitimately treacherous.
In short, the holiday spirit is just general goodwill towards oneself and others. If we carried that with us at all times, every day would be a holiday.