There’s no war on Christmas. I know, because if there was, I would have enlisted.
Now, full disclosure here, I’ve never been a huge fan of the whole yuletide business. As a child of someone who works in retail, you quickly realize that the holidays are not so much a time of joy so much as a time of “Mommy’s tired because people at work are assholes.” Of course, at the time, I probably didn’t call them assholes (no matter how accurate it would have been). But either way, let me assure you, I got the drift.
It’s not like my mother was coming home from work “Bah humbugging” and smashing up gingerbread houses just for funsies. Quite the contrary, despite the fact that she worked in retail hell, she made our Christmas celebrations quite enjoyable. There were multiple (multiple!) expertly-decorated Christmas trees; there were countless, thoughtful, unexpected gifts; and there were always plenty of cookies to go around.
Christmases at our house and at our grandparents’ houses (Shoutout to the grandmas!) were great. I had no qualms with them. I had an idyllic childhood. (Seriously, I’m that annoying.) It’s just the world outside of my safe, little, functional family cocoon where I was disappointed. Because I was pretty sure a lot of the people out there were really screwing up Christmas.
And now that I’m an adult who has seen a bit more of humanity (and has even worked in holiday, retail hell) I know Little Kid Me was definitely right. People are screwing up this holiday, seriously, majorly, screwing this up.
FYI, if you think this is a segue to a debate on semantics, you’re wrong. I don’t care if you tell me “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” and you shouldn’t care either. When someone wishes you a “happy” or “merry” anything, you should be grateful. If someone offers you a kindness, I think it’s pretty darn un-Christian-like to quibble with them over word choice.
I’m no religious scholar, but if you studied the same Bible I did in Sunday School, I’m pretty sure Jesus didn’t say he’d love and welcome all his children, you know, except for the ones who gave him friendly greetings which weren’t worded exactly the way he wanted. If that part’s in there, I totally missed it.
I also must have missed the part where he commanded his birthday celebration should kick off with a shopping event called Black Friday where his all his beloved, little children would trample each other to get a reduced-priced, knockoff brand , television set.
(On a related note, only in America would we celebrate a holiday dedicated to being grateful for our bounty and then the next day, rush out to stores in droves because we’ve collectively decided that eh, our bounty we’ve just given thanks for isn’t quite bountiful enough. It’d probably be better if we had that $4 toaster oven in the Bed, Bath and Beyond ad, for example. That couldn’t hurt.)
I realize that at this point, I’m starting to sound a bit self-righteous. I get that. I’m aware of it. I’m about to address it, I promise.
See right here, addressing it: I kind of suck at Christmas too. Frankly, if my laziness (and general hatred of large groups of people) did not far outweigh my cheapness, I’d probably be out there trampling folks at the Black Friday sales with the best of them. Granted, I’d never wake up before the sun to do it, but again, that comes down more to my laziness than anything else.
But, despite my refusal to participate in Black Friday, I’m pretty much as bad as everyone else this time of year. I get sucked up in all the stuff-ness of the season. There’s just so much damned stuff. We eat so much stuff. We drink so much stuff. We buy so much stuff. It all gets to be a bit overwhelming.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll find yourself desperately searching a 24-hour Walgreens at 10:30 p.m. on December 23 for anything (really, anything) that can even remotely be considered a thoughtful Christmas present. You’re cursing yourself for completely forgetting you had a gift exchange tomorrow, you’re cursing your family for suggesting a gift exchange tomorrow, and you’re cursing the fact that Christmas is now apparently more about the gifts than the people you’re lucky enough to share them with.
To watch commercials, you’d think that the entire point of Christmas was to win it by giving the most gifts purchased at the most reasonable prices. I’m all for frugality and all. I’m crazy cheap, but even I don’t think that’s the point of this whole season.
I’m pretty positive that this whole thing is not supposed to be about the gifts and I’m positive that the love of your family and friends is not supposed to be dependent on how strictly you adhere to their holiday wish-lists. Even if that is what commercials want you to believe: I’m looking at you here, Macy’s.
(Sidenote: Please check out this super-awesomely sexist ad from Macy’s which teaches people that this man’s crazy, manipulative, materialistic wife will only love him if he buys her a ring for Christmas. And it better be size six, damnit: http://www.ispot.tv/ad/7AqQ/macys-jewelry-store. Because, obviously it’s perfectly normal for us married gals to write our holiday wish-lists on our sad, emasculated husbands’ heads, right? We’re funny like that.)
Okay, feminist rant aside, back to the point, this Christmas, this bastardized, commercialized, plasticized, discounted Christmas, it sucks.
However, I think there’s still hope. I think if we really, really tried, we can make it better. We can care less about the presents, more about the people giving them to us, and nothing at all about the semantics of the thing. We can make it a Merry Christmas or a Happy Holiday, or heck, we can even do both.
Because not to blow your mind here, but there actually are other holidays in December. Also, if I was paying attention in Bible School at all (which I’m pretty sure I was), I’d bet that God wouldn’t mind you showing a little love to the folks who celebrate holidays that happen to differ from your own.
You can do that pretty easily too, just try not taking words of inclusion as a personal affront. “Merry,” “Happy,” “Christmas,” and “Holiday” are all pretty good as far as words go.
Spread the love (and the spiked eggnog, if you’ve got any) and not the hyperbolic war talk, please.