In response to someone else’s take on the holidays, I thought I’d write about mine.
I like Christmas. The religious aspect is important to me, because I am a Christian. I believe that Jesus is the son of God, and that his life here on Earth should be remembered and celebrated. I also like the other aspects of it. I like festive decorations and blinking lights and Christmas music. I know it doesn’t have anything to do with the nominal reason for the season (celebrating Christ), but I also like the entire Santa Claus mythology. I don’t remember ever believing in Santa Claus as a child, but I certainly do now. I even like Christmas movies like ‘Elf’ and both The Santa Clause and The Santa Clause 2, plus classics like It’s a Wonderful Life and modern ones like Family Man. But let’s break it down:
1. Santa hats (etc…). I think silly hats are great, any time of the year, and if the “holiday season” can get otherwise overly conservative people to wear silly hats, I’m all for it. I like seeing people color-matching with the decorations, lowering their inhibitions and using the holidays as an excuse to dress in ways they normally couldn’t get away with (due to irrational societal pressures): in bright, contrasting colors, with bits and bobs of fluff and fancy.
2. Christmas Spirit. This follows directly from the last one; during the holidays, people are allowed to loosen up and be less conservative not just their clothing choices, but in their behavior as well. In the workplace the dress codes are loosened, people listen to cheerful music and are even free to sing along (no matter how poorly), knowing that they will not be considered unusual for it. People volunteer more, donate more to charitable causes, work soup kitchens, and generally try to be more “nice” and less “naughty”, and while I would appreciate seeing it during more of the year, every little bit helps. I could go on about the difference between reality and the perception of reality being meaningless, such that whether people are acting out of a true spirit of kindness or simply putting on an act becomes meaningless, but … not now.
3. Christmas Music. Man, do I love Christmas music. I finished ripping all my Christmas CD’s into my iMac back in September, and I have exactly 187 Christmas songs in the regular rotation of my main playlist. Most of them have been filtering into my playlist since September. I have acquired at least two new Christmas albums this year though to add to my total, and may see if I can get a good deal on Christmas music next week. Some songs, mostly the ones that are actually about Jesus and/or his birth, I could listen to all year. Others seem to simply be ‘winter’ songs or generic ‘holiday’ songs (ie: Jingle Bells, Silver Bells, Deck the Halls, etc…), and will be removed from my playlists over time. I’m not altogether satisfied with all Christmas music, but usually because (regardless of the subject) it’s just bad music. Christmas rap music doesn’t do it for me, for instance. More than that I find myself noticing (on albums with multiple artists) which artists are doing Christmas songs about Christ and which artists are doing … other songs. I mean, really; when you write your own, new ‘holiday’ song and leave Christ out of Christmas entirely, I can see where you stand. Still, the songs that get the most play are the classics I like the most, and I like being able to hum or sing along with music I know and love everywhere I go in November and December. It gives me a good feeling.
4. Christmas TV ‘Specials’. I uhh… In previous years I’ve typically been too busy with other Christmas activities (shopping, partying, going to church, etc…) to see all the new and old and strange ‘specials’ that the networks put on the air every year. This year, I simply don’t have TV. I mean, right now I’m in Phoenix, but since I haven’t been watching TV anyway, I wouldn’t know what specials are and aren’t playing and why I’d want to watch them. They’re meaningless to me, but … someone must like them. Whatever.
5. Drinking. I uhhh… I dunno. I never drank for the “holidays”, and have been trying (successfully) in the last few months to cut back on and limit my drinking of any alcohol, ever. But in relation to Christmas, here’s a quick anecdote: I was over at my older sister (April)’s place the other day, and we were discussing Christmas. She’s having all her extended family over to her place on Christmas, including me, my dad, Heath and Angela. She asked me “What do you like in your eggnog?” and for a long moment I simply did not understand the question. I thought perhaps she was going to try to make egg nog from scratch and wanted to know if I had recipe suggestions. I was about to recommend that she freshly grate her own nutmeg when it finally occurred to me (Okay, she had to clarify the question. Twice.) that she wanted to know what alcohol I prefered in my egg nog. I have no idea. I’ve never had alcohol in egg nog. Thinking about it I was (and still am) pretty sure I wouldn’t like egg nog if it had alcohol in it. Ewww.
6. Miscellaneous Irrational Behavior. Tying back into my first two points, any kind of “letting loose” and what seems like “behaving out of character” that the holidays can create is a good thing. If only because it allows people to see through new eyes, even just for a few weeks. For many people, I believe, it is an opportunity to loosen the collar and behave more like they would normally behave if not weighed down by societal pressures. Singing out, loud and clear. Spending time and effort and money trying to bring happiness and joy to all the important people in their lives at once. Spending extra time with friends and family, reaching out to people they might not otherwise have said one word to. All of these things can be good, and yes, they should be seen more throughout the year, but whether someone spends one day every week and a half behaving this way or for six weeks at the end of the year, it still has a positive effect on their lives and the lives of those around them.
All in all, the Christmas season brings a good feeling to my life and most of the people I know. It also stimulates the economy and creates a lot fo temporary jobs. In addition, it allows people to behave in ways that they otherwise would not be allowed to without fear of being shunned socially and perhaps losing footing in their workplaces, just for expressing themselves and being jolly. It brings joyful music into every corner and stands as a reminder that Christ lived. If only for its nominal reason (Christ lived and died so that we could be given everlasting life), it should bring joy to every heart.