Stop me if you’ve heard this one: “I can’t stand the Christmas season. First they start calling it Xmas, then you’ve got this Santa fellow who is basically a middle-man between the toy companies and the gullible family that buys $20 pieces of plastic crap for their newly-greedy brats. Now It’s A Wonderful Life, as if it weren’t long enough in the first place, now reaches saga proportions while being interrupted every 1.5 minutes by an ad for, most appropriately, Crown Royal hard liquor. It’s all just too commercial.”
It’s a fact. The day after Thanksgiving kicks off the year’s biggest month-long orgy of consumerism. The critics and cynics, and some moralists, will decry it all and wish for the golden days of yore. For the rest, and more rational segment, of the population, however, fear not. The Christmas season is still a magical time.
1. Santa Claus – Sure he’s gotten a bad rap, but what harm does he honestly do? What, pray tell, is wrong with alleviating what would otherwise be children’s guilt of asking for loads and loads of Christmas loot? Kids are kids, not young adults, needing and deserving of a little childish fantasy.
2. The weather – For those of us lucky enough to live in temperate climate zones, the seasonal weather of snow and ice makes us feel very much alive and vulnerable as it does safe and secure. On tends to begin appreciating the value of a warm, snug house whilst finding themselves stranded in the blistering cold, car in a state of flux. The snow in itself is like a new beginning, a big, white canvas on which to draw.
3. The New Year – We all need our limits. Near the end of summer we see the upcoming school year as an opportunity to improve on failures of the past. January first gives us that demarcation at which to start anew, to bring about positive change in our lives.
4. Family – As cliché as it may sound, the reunion of families, who otherwise wouldn’t see each other, for the holidays is still the most valued Christmas tradition of all. For families in good relation with each other, no more happiness or sense of belonging can be found. For those alienated, the season provides some hope that reconciliation may take place over a glazed, spiral ham.
5. Pine – Not only does cutting down the tree provide an excuse to use that great pumice soap, it’s the perfect way to freshen any home. You’ll get some poor mold-affected souls who may tell you a fake tree is just as good with none of the mess, but for sheer holiday delight there’s no substitute for the real thing. From the pine needles jabbed into your palm to the exhausting sweeping and vacuuming, nothing lets you know you’re alive more than a fresh Scotch pine.
6. Those Coca-Cola bears – Taste the capitalism. What marketing genius comes up with a sedentary, plush advertisement for a cold drink in the dead of winter? Moreover, why are they so darn irresistible? I’ve got three of ’em, and every time I see the obviously overheated arctic animal reach for a frosty Coke in the middle of a frozen tundra, I’m in the garage digging behind canteloupe.
7. Christmas movies – Speaking of capitalism, there’s no question Miracle on 34th Street an “It’s a Wonderful Life” broadcasts are riddled with endorsements. That’s fine by me, as will be explained below. In a holiday all about tradition, however, there’s no better sight than Jimmy Stewart’s face blazing across national broadcast media for the 50th year in a row. As for the commercials…
8. Grab some food! – The excess of four pie types, three varieties of yams, and leftover turkey or ham (when coupled with bread, of course) fits perfectly into those 90 second interruptions. Timing is key, but eating and holiday programming watching can be married to create a beautiful model of efficiency.
9. Fog – On glasses, on car windows, on the mirror beneath the mistletoe. No time of the year yields as much opportunity for expressing yourself in transparency than the Christmas season. “I love you,” “I hate you,” and “I just can’t live without you,” all cut even deeper when fingerpainted on a windshield.
10. Egg nog – The great equalizer. On Thankgiving, all the kids hit the soda while the adults lay into the champagne supply. Nothing brings your family together like gathering around the bowl of egg nog that Uncle Larry has emptied his favorite rum into.