Sunday, November 25, 2007

I'll only say it this once...

...I don't like Christmas.

I am not against Christmas itself. As a Christian/Jew/Buddhist, I am more than happy to have these extra days of celebration in our winter holiday repertoire. I believe in Christ both literally—as a wise man, a Messiah, a savior—and figuratively—as a symbol of peace, forgiveness, and unconditional love. Our world is a disheartening place to live right now, so why begrudge the masses a day to make merry?

First, the insane expectations. At no other time of year do family dysfunctions seem so glaring. High expectations and less-than-perfect realities clash. Long healed scars are torn into fresh wounds. At best, we get through it. Second, the waste. My kids don’t need more plastic—what kid does? How many cars are on the road as drivers search for a perfect gift? How many extra calories do we ingest while people in other countries starve? This is as American as we get: clueless in our wisdom, selfish in our giving, secular in our observance of the most religious day in our majority religion’s year.

But the real reason I dread Christmas? The materialism. It borders on extortion. Why does that Xbox game say ‘I love you’ so much louder than a handwritten letter? Because Corporate America can’t live on love alone. What is the true emotional value of a gift given because I have to? Apparently high enough, because no one on my Christmas list would happily relinquish their spot.

If I, who can financially and emotionally afford this insanity, can’t wait for the next month to be over, I can only imagine the strain felt by those who are truly disenfranchised. People without families that look like those on black-and-white movies. People who can’t afford the display of generosity, who may not have stockings even on their feet and don’t have a roof, much less a mantel. People who can’t say “It’s a Wonderful Life” without a heavy dose of irony. I’m praying as much for them as for peace on earth.

So now I am going to stop being a party pooper and try to jump wholeheartedly in the holiday fervor. Really. I'm going to ignore all of the above, caring only about how my organic vegan walnut fudge turns out and whether I find the perfect gift for my stepson's girlfriend. Really.



Burbanmom said...

Great post, Emily! Thanks for snapping us all back to reality! It can be difficult not to get caught up in the fervor of the holiday, but you're right. We ought to just be damn thankful that we don't live in poverty like a great many of the other humans on the planet.

I'm going to need to toss back some eggnog now....


GreenStyleMom said...

I really struggle with Christmas. I truly enjoy the holiday. I like baking, I like being with friends and family, I like giving. But sometimes it just gets so out of control. And the fact that it all starts so early and goes on for so long makes it worse! And I am guilty of getting caught up in the "it has to be perfect" charade.

Emily the Great and Terrible said...

I think the 'out-of-control'-ness is what really gets to me. Christmas takes up more than a month now, so that's ten percent of our year caught in a spending frenzy! Yikes! One could argue that this single holiday is responsible for most American consumer debt.

I'm with you on the eggnog... any rum in it?