Christmas? Not exactly what you think

Erica Garbutt, Features Editor

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Christmas. It’s a time of multicolored lights on strings, an influx of sugary sweets, insipid caroling and happiness for everyone. Right?

Wrong.

Okay, so maybe I’m exaggerating. For many, Christmas (or whatever other winter holiday you celebrate) is indeed a time of happiness, gift-giving and togetherness. But for some, the holidays are a time of extreme stress.

In the past, Christmas, for me, has been a personal reminder of my own problems. How could a time of such goodwill induce such misery? Well, when I hear a Christmas carol, for example, it makes me think that I will never be able to be as happy as Christmas carolers seem to be. To me, Christmas is not a time of natural happiness, but rather artificial joy. Christmas seems to constantly circle me, saying, “Why aren’t you happy? C’mon, everyone else is ridiculously merry, so why can’t you be? You’re never going to be like that, now are you?”

Everyone has individual struggles going on, no matter what time of the year it is. Do we really feel a need to force people to slap on a smile just because it’s snowy and there are pine trees everywhere? What if someone lost a beloved family member or they’re grappling with a serious health problem? Can’t they be allowed to express their feelings instead of having to put on a mask of happiness because they’ll be called a Grinch if they don’t?

Besides, it’s unfair to call the winter months the ‘Christmas season’ when other holidays are being celebrated around the same time. How do you think Jews feel? Hanukkah is a perfectly valid and wonderful holiday, yet it’s often overshadowed by the big fat man in red. Or what about Kwanzaa? Poor Kwanzaa—always the overlooked little brother of the holiday season. Why does Christmas get all the glory? Why can’t we appreciate and recognize other holidays that take place during this time, not just Christmas?

And then there’s the holiday shopping. So many parents and relatives desperately rush around the shops, searching for a gift that their kids or nieces and nephews will embrace. Except that gifts, unlike love—which is what the holidays are SUPPOSED to be about—are fleeting. Chances are that you don’t remember too many of your past Christmas gifts. So why do we spend so much money on toys and clothes that family members only appreciate for a while, then lay aside and forget? Isn’t spending time together and celebrating your beliefs or your family more important than consumerism? In our society, where money means everything, and items mean status, we seem to have forgotten what the holidays are truly about.

To quote our soon-to-be president, we need to make the holidays “great again.” It’s supposed to be a time of love, religion and appreciation, yet America has turned it into a time of shopping, stress and overlooking celebrations that don’t involve candy canes or tree toppers. We need to get back on track and celebrate the holidays as they were meant to be celebrated. Spend time with your family (yes, even relatives you dread), value your religious beliefs if you have them and give love instead of presents. If we can start to do that again, then maybe the holidays really will be joyful. And maybe Christmas carols will eventually be tolerable because they’ll be meaningful—instead of silly jingles that are forever playing inside of stores that sell mounds of useless junk.

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Christmas? Not exactly what you think