A friend of mine told me last week he would be glad when Christmas has come and gone.
I can understand his point.
Christmas lights and other decorations began showing up in stores in October. Christmas music has been playing for just about as long on some radio stations, and now one hears it seemingly everywhere – even in some restaurant restrooms.
The frenzy associated with Black Friday and Cyber Monday and all the other holiday sales can leave one frustrated if not sickened to the stomach by the endless exhortations to shop by bright-eyed but empty headed news personalities.
And then there are the television commercials that use Christmas, or as it’s more likely to be called – the “holiday season”, for nostalgia in pushing for even more mindless spending.
My personal bête noire are the luxury car commercials.
You know the ones. The setting is always one of snow, mountains, a big house, and peppy athletic couples giving each other luxury cars for Christmas – sometimes matching ones. I call these the “you’re a failure” commercials in that they imply that if you’re not doing the same it’s likely because you’re just not good enough.
As I said, I understand my friend’s point.
On the other hand, one can choose not to pay attention to any of the above.
Commercials on television can be muted.
Malls can be avoided – something that should be true most of the year.
A tree and outside lights should be for one’s enjoyment or to be shared with the neighbors – not to be an ego trip like Clark Griswold in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.
Remembering the simpler times of Christmas is a tremendous choice.
I recall as a child going over to my grandmother’s to see the Christmas catalog from Montgomery Ward. There were pages and pages of toys – little of which I intuitively knew I’d not get. But it was still something to be savored and appreciated as my brothers and sister and I waited to see what would appear on Christmas morning.
The religious Christmas music is still among the best of the season. One doesn’t have to be religious anymore, or ever, to appreciate the deep reverence and stirring heights of O Holy Night or the soft reflective mood of Silent Night.
Watch young children, those still young enough to believe in Santa, and not corrupted into becoming demanding consumers. Their innocence points to the wonder of the season.
Make a point of donating to the ringing bells of the Salvation Army. And when you give, smile at the person and say Merry Christmas that will always be returned. The money will help someone and practicing your smile is always a good thing.
Watch your special Christmas movies. I try to catch every version of A Christmas Carol, with the one starring Alastair Sim being my favorite.
Start a tradition if you don’t have one. One that focuses on others not yourself.
We buy simple gifts – generally small food items like cookies or caramels – and visit our neighbors on Christmas morning.
As I said, you can choose the Christmas you want for yourself and others in your life. You don’t have to buy into the one the consumer culture has chosen for you. Doing so means you’ll enjoy it more and will look at its passing a bit wistfully as you know it’ll be another long year until it returns.
One other thing.