Christmas is advertised as being this magical time with a happy family sitting by the Christmas tree and smiling around a fire while the camera pans out the window to the beautiful snow softly falling outside.
So what happens when that’s not your reality? When you don’t find yourself starry-eyed in a reindeer sweater singing Christmas carols and drinking hot cocoa come December 25th?
In recent years, I’ve found myself losing excitement for the holiday season. Instead of looking forward to gift-giving, I dread having to brave the shopping center insanity or beat the “sold-out” notices online. Instead of looking forward to reconnect with people I haven’t seen in a while, I dread social gatherings. I’ve gone from voluntarily turning on Christmas music to barely being able to tolerate it at all. I’ve gone from purposely scheduling out time to watch every single Christmas movie ever made to having no interest in a cheesy Hallmark movie (Elf is the Christmas movie exception. Elf is always acceptable).
So why do some so-called Scrooges grow to become, well, Scrooges as the years go on? Personally, I blame the ever-growing consumerist tendencies of our society. Commercialism has taken over and I’m sick of it.
I’m tired of seeing sales on Thanksgiving Day. I’m tired of fighting rude crowds in stores and impatient drivers on the roads. I’m tired of my inbox exploding with ads for “the biggest sale of the year” (a statement I hear at least three times a year). I’m tired of seeing people rushing to finish up at the office to max out the ratio of salary to quality work done and start their vacation early. I’m tired of greed and ungratefulness. And, overall, I’m tired of the insane amount of stress that has become a package deal with the season.
We as a society have lost what this time is supposed to be about. It’s not about waiting outside a store at 3 in the morning to buy some piece of plastic at 70% off. It’s also not about trying to bounce from one party to the next while still trying to out-hostess them all at your own. Trying to be the “most spirited” house in the neighborhood and spending thousands on outdoor light displays? Not worth it. We lose ourselves in the glittering tinsel, exuberant decorations, and piles of gifts. We forget about what Christmas should be about.
We’re a holiday society plagued by gluttony, competition, waste, and materialism. We spend weeks gearing up for this one day only to spend it cooking, cleaning, and entertaining and then, before you know it, the day is over. The magic is gone and everyone is left drained until it’s time to start the whole process over again next November.
Is this how you want to end your year? Christmas vacation should be about rest and reevaluating your mindset. I want that child-like excitement back. I want that genuine love for Christmas again, a love not based on presents or cranberry sauce but for the generous spirit of community, the togetherness of family and friends, and the recharging for a new year.
This Christmas, make time to just be. Make time to be with the people you love and really be there. Put down the phones, tablets, and laptops. Put away the office spreadsheets and work emails. Remember the reason for the season and why we celebrate this wonderful time in the first place. Make it your own, but make it count.
“The way you spend Christmas is far more important than how much.” -Henry David Thoreau
-How do you deal with holiday exhaustion?