Sunday, November 19, 2006

Happy F-ing Holidays

Disclaimer: This post is not, I repeat, NOT for my mother. Mom, don't read it. I know you want to, but just don't. I love you!!

Next week, in honor of Turkey Day, I get one whole day off of work. But, even better than that is the fact that my parents will be taking the kids for four.whole.days.

I cannot tell you how badly a break is needed. Since moving to the Sunshine State, my relief workers relatives are in short supply. I make the annual obligatory treks to the cold, distant North* somewhat reluctantly, even though it does usually afford me some well-deserved alone time.

See, there's always some kind of price I have to pay for visiting my parents and letting them have the kids. Sure, they adore my children with a love that knows no bounds and are happy to keep them on any available opportunity they receive. However. This does not in any way prevent them from giving me the third-degree about any and every aspect of my life for hours on end and then lecturing me about it.

You know, I wish that I could properly convey exactly what it is like dealing with my mother. I'll be sure to write about this in excess after the holiday hullabaloo is over (or maybe even during, if able). Then you'll see. Then you can truly understand the grating, non-stop inquisitions I suffer.

But, let's not speak of such things anymore today. Let's talk about the holidays. Why do we do this? I just don't understand why we've manufactured such elaborate, materialistic events. Christ wasn't born on December 25, that day is a pagan holiday merged with our Lord's birth to trick them into converting.

Thanksgiving was made up by the settlers, because they were just grateful that they survived the winter. As an aside, I actually do appreciate Thanksgiving. I mean, there is nothing wrong with a holiday that is all about being thankful for what you have. But when I see Thanksgiving decorations in the stores and they have obviously commercialized it, I don't know. What's next? Before you know it, they'll have us exchanging gifts on this day as well.

New Year's is just an excuse to get tanked. It's all** just one big excuse to sell crap and party. Decorations, gifts, lights, music...

Take my mom, for example. This woman has no less than 6 or 7 gigantic storage bins*** that are filled to the brim with decorations. For the most part, these decorations are separated according to theme. So, each year, she'll go to the storage unit and peruse her stash until she has determined what this years theme shall be. Yes, it's all Christmas-themed, smarty-pants. But, she's got a whole set of icy-blue decorations. She's got a whole theme of nothing but Christmas plaid decorations. She's got angel themes, she's got snowman themes, she's got reindeer themes. She has corresponding accessories and Christmas music out the wazoo. And she always buys a real tree.

I tell her every year, that although her house looks lovely, it's just not worth it. I try to do as she did when I was a child and remind her that "He's the reason for the season" and all the decorating and present-buying aren't necessary. See, if this woman did the decorating tirelessly, and obviously took great joy in doing it, I would say nothing. Because, truly, it's lovely. But, all I ever hear from the day after Halloween until at least a week after the New Years are complaints, complaints, complaints. "There's not enough time to put up all the decorations." "I don't know which theme to pick this year." "Nobody ever helps me with all this, I have to do it all by myself." "You know, it takes me nearly three days to get the tree all put up and decorated. I have to do it practically all by myself, you know." "I just don't know if I'm going to be able to do it all this year." So, this year, I think I finally convinced her to get a fake tree. That should help, somewhat.

She still insists that all the decorating and such are important for the kids, and I agree somewhat...I mean, I still remember the thrill of this time of year. It used to feel wonderful. I got excited watching Christmas specials on TV, and the commercials were so damn sugary sweet it made me cry. Especially the one for Folgers, where the boy comes in from college or somewhere, and puts on some coffee while everyone's asleep, and the little kid catches him laying out presents or something, and then the mom comes down the stairs and says, "Peter! Oh, Peter! You're home! You're home!" Yeah. Waterworks like clockwork. Those damn commercial makers. I also remember the joys of seeing all the decorations. My mom and I used to drive the neighborhoods at night to look at all the beautifully decorated houses and stores and streets.

But, of course, as a child I assumed that all the shopkeepers and city workers lined the streets and buildings with lights and decorations because they, too, felt the holiday spirit as strongly as I did. Once I realized what a huge crock that was, it kinda lost some of the magic. So, is it important to keep this spirit alive in children, or are you just sugar-coating the world and putting off the inevitable realization that it's all a bunch of marketing tools and commercialization?

*Cold, distant North being Birmingham, all of four and a half measly hours away from me. So, read: Light-jacket cool weather, not-so-far-away city of the South. Meh. Details-shmetails.

**I'm not going to attack Hanukkah. I'm not Jewish, but that's one holiday that actually seems to have somewhat avoided the commercialization and merchandise frenzy. It's actually still about the Lord.

***There could be more. Really. I haven't re-counted in the last couple of years. They seem to multiply like rabbits.


Jules said...

And by the way, I am still a NON-SMOKER!!!

Amy said...


I totally agree about Christmas, which is why we don't do Santa in our house. I just refuse to move the focus from giving to getting and that seems to me to be the Santa message. I've taken a LOT of grief over that, but LM is way cool with the idea.

I'm so glad you get a little mini-break with some time just for you!! Enjoy it!!

Katrina said...

You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch! LOL...just kidding! I see what you're saying--it's easy for commercialism to get in the way of enjoying the holidays, and it seems to get bigger and start earlier every year!

I'm with Amy--we try to incorporate giving into our holiday celbrations every year just to make sure the kids realize that the holidays, and especially Christmas, aren't just one gigantic grab-fest. We shop together for needy kids whose name we get off the giving tree at church, and we go through their toys every year to collect ones to donate to the Women's Center Thrift Store in town. We do entertain the Santa thing, although Katie put two and two together just a couple of weeks ago and asked me point blank if he was real, to which I responded with the truth, of course.

She didn't seem too upset, which is good!

And about the Christ's birthday thing, we just tell our kids that every day is a day to celebrate Christ's coming to Earth, and Christmas day is no exception!