Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday Five: Things I Would Change About Christmas

"No," you say. "You aren't going to attack Christmas, are you?" Yeah, yeah, 'tis the season and all that. But as another season is ramping up towards its grand finale on December 25th, I can't help but think about all the things that I wish were just a little different. I'm not calling for a Grinchy ban on the holiday by any means. But I think it would be nice if we shifted our perspective, away from the excesses of the season, slowed it down, and applied the "less is more" rule.
1. The actual timeframe of the season: There's not a lot to say on this, except it's getting out of hand. And it absolutely does get worse every few years. This year, Christmas crap was on display on NOVEMBER 1st. The day after HALLOWEEN. Hiiii, did we just wanna railroad right over Thanksgiving? Traditionally, the "Christmas season" is supposed to start the day after Thanksgiving, and not a minute before. Why are we in such a rush? Is it to fuel the fire for some of my other points (gift-giving, decorating)? Whatever the reason, stop it. Or make Christmas crap available year-round. But it's uncomfortable and annoying to see Santa and Halloween together. Only Tim Burton is allowed to do that.

2. Decorations: Again, I'm not calling for a nation-wide wreath-burning. But, very closely related to item 1, is the fact that there were people in my neighborhood that had their Christmas decorations up before Thanksgiving. That is NOT festive. That's pressure. It's forcing Christmas down everyone's throat before it's time. I see it as celebrating your birthday two months before the actual day.
 "It's my birthday!"
"Really? When? Today?"
"No! In two months! I'm so excited I'm going to start decorating my cubicle now!"

You wanna slap that person, don't you?

I rather enjoy looking at all the houses decorated, especially when they are really creative or unique. It's fun and it's merry. After Thanksgiving.

3. Gift-giving: It's a point. The gesture of showering the ones you love with thoughtful presents is never an ill-intentioned one. But there's a certain level of politics involved with gift-giving. If so-and-so gets me a gift, then I should get her/him a gift, too, shouldn't I? You know, I was going to get what's-his-face a gift worth $50, but you know, he really pissed me off today, so I'm knocking that down to $30. I would not define the spirit of giving in this way. Instead, we should stop being so self-involved and really think about what it is we're doing. We're spending hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars to impress, oblige, satisfy, spoil... but why? I'm not suggesting we don't gift-give at all. But maybe we ought to both cut back, and maybe, just maybe... stop giving even more to those who have, and maybe kick a little to those who have-not.

I'm not a Debbie Do-Gooder by any stretch of the imagination. But in this whole frenzy of gift-selection, you'd think that we could spend a little less on giving more crap to each other, and giving some of that stuff to people who have, quite literally, nothing. People here in New Jersey are still reeling from Hurricane Irene. We go into the mall, drop serious coin on electronics and designer clothes, and then scurry past the Salvation Army Santa, avoiding eye contact or pretending we have no change. You can't buy a sweater at Old Navy for $10 and put it in a Goodwill bin?

I would have absolutely no problem if my loved ones told me that they were donating their holiday funds to charity rather than giving gifts this year. Absolutely. Go for it. And here's the snippet of sentimentality for the day: I'd much rather spend time with the people I care about than exchange more crap with each other. I have plenty knick nacks and doo-dads. What I don't always have is the fortune of spending time with people I care about.

4. Blaming Christmas for ruining your diet/as an excuse not to work/as an excuse for things not to get done: Again... Christmas isn't two months long. However, this is more about people and less about Christmas itself. Yes, people do things like bake and share the holiday cheer in the workplace. But if you gain 20 lbs during the Christmas season, it's because you have no self control. There's no reason you can't stick to your regular diet and exercise regimen, for the most part, during the holiday season.  (These are the same people who make going to the gym in January and February a test of patience, as they flood the facility in a panic over their expanding waistline, and then stop caring right around March.) This is also fodder for the news outlets to roll out year after year, giving us tips on how to "beat those holiday pounds." Know how to beat them? Put down the candy-cane-shaped sugar cookie. Eating a big meal on Christmas Eve and even again on Christmas Day isn't going to do major damage to your diet/weight.

There are certain things that can be blown off for holiday shenanigans, things that aren't pressing for year-end numbers, results, etc. But then there are situations that are still, regardless of the birth of Sweet Baby Jesus, pressing and dire. Liiiiiiike being separated for over two years in what should result in a simple, non-contested divorce. Anything legal, medical, or business-profit related should not come to a grinding halt the 1st of December. Let's take it to the 23rd, folks.

5. Holiday Cheer IN YO' FACE!: I think it's lovely when cashiers, clerks, wait staff, fellow shoppers, small children, and others warmly wish you happy holidays. It's nice, it makes everyone feel good, it shines a little sparkly light on the spirit of the season.

But then, there are the overly caffienated, bubbly, bouncy, saucer-eyed folks who live and breathe all things Christmas, adorned with garland, blinky wreath pins, Christmas earrings, Santa hats, and giant, twinkle light grins, leaning forward over the counter, squealing "MERRY CHRISTMAS!!" like Cindy Lou Who on speed.

I can hear you blinking.

These are the people who are "sad" when Christmas ends. Who can't find a way to feel the joy in other things during other times of the year. These are the post-Halloween decorators, the people who start their Christmas shopping in June, who absolutely revel in half-price Christmas swag on the 26th, beaming with anticipation of next year!!!!

Tone it down. First, because it's just annoying. Secondly, being jolly and joyous has to come from within. It can't be forced past your teeth by a psychotic Workshop Elf Wannabe. No matter how much green and red sugar you coat it in. Let me be merry when I'm ready. And if that means I don't feel it until Christmas Eve, when I walk into my mother's house and smell the familiar favorite dishes, or when everyone is around the table, or even when it's all over, and a few of us stragglers are reflecting back on the night... let everyone feel the joy on their own time.

And so, my friends, With eight days left until the 'Eve, I politely wish you an affordable, tasteful, joyous on your own time Christmas.


  1. Love you, Nicole. I was just thinking about this the other day. I'm so sick of Christmas creeping in earlier and earlier each year and wouldn't be surprised if we started to see it in July next year. We'll see commercials with Santa swimming in his finest Old Navy trunks. Mrs. Claus in a candy cane bikini. Enough already. I also think the stores are opening up earlier and earlier each year to accomodate Black Friday shoppers, which takes away from another holiday meant to spend with the family. It's just gotten so out of hand. All of it.

    Don't get me wrong. I'm into it this year. But when I think of Christmas, I think of spending time with the people I love more than anything (as you) rather than what I'm getting from Santa.

  2. Changes or not, I hope yours was a good one and that we will see you back here in the new year!