In the past five months I have had a lot of time to think about Christmas. The most wonderful time of the year when you’re stuck spending gratuitous time with people you don’t like or, depending on how large your family is, don’t even know.
The festive, jolly holiday when you can’t walk outside without a portable apocalypse bunker and wherever you go, you know you will be forced to listen to the same three tacky, simple songs in a loop because someone a long time ago decided that any music less than one million years old is banned during the holiday season.
A time during which we can all celebrate the spirit of giving by recklessly inflating capitalist corporations.
You may have already picked up on this, but I don’t really like Christmas. I like snow. I like giving people things. I like getting free stuff and cooking big dinners for people I care about. I even like pine trees. I just don’t like Christmas itself. The concept is fine, I suppose, if a bit bland, but the implementation is lacking.
Surely you’ve seen a movie or TV show in which “The Family is Going on Vacation!” and everything goes wrong, but the father is determined that “We are Going to Have a Good Time”, and he just tries harder to force fun at an event as it spirals further and further out of his control until some climax happens. There’s a moral. The family comes closer together and everything is fine.
The way I see it, Christmas is like that plot, except there’s no climax and no payoff. It’s just the first part. Christmas is a time when people try to make an arbitrary month into a replica of some magical nostalgic fairyland that never existed in the first place, and run themselves ragged in the process. They spend more than they can afford on gifts that are essentially just very expensive tokens of affection. Then they wake up too early on a dreary morning to sit around a tree and wonder why they didn’t save a whole lot of time and money by just buying themselves what they wanted and inviting the fam to hang out afterward.
There is always a silver lining though. Christmas as an institution does give us one thing that we can’t get anywhere else: the Santa Claus lie debate. Whether you tell young children that there is no Santa or lie and pretend there is one, I think it’s safe to say that society has created a scenario in which there is no morally correct way to handle the portly red legend. That’s the one break for me in the monotonous procession of hollow cheer and ritual kindness. Incredible.