It seems the jingling of Christmas bells can be heard earlier and earlier with each passing year. There’s hardly time to throw out our Jack O’Lanterns before stores are chockfull of ornaments and mistletoe encouraging us to deck our halls. It also seems that a new tradition this time of year is the appearance of the anti-early Christmas memes that start popping up all over social media.
These clever pictures poke fun at the ludicrousness of prepping for a holiday that’s still a couple months away. But the grumblings of the supporters who Like these posts beg a more serious question. Is our holiday cheer genuine or have we simply been programmed by “The Machine” to consume in bulk? Those opposed to the premature festivities usually argue that mass media has made us slaves to tradition.
To these naysayers I offer a hearty “Bah Humbug!”
The winter holidays mean so many different things to so many different people. If you tend to view the season as simply go-time for corporations to fatten their pockets, then perhaps you’d do well to throw on some red, green, and gold colored glasses. This season can be full of wonder and merriment if only you’d adjust your perspective a bit.
For me it all begins with the music and decorations. As soon as I hear a Christmas classic coming from a store’s sound system or out of my own car radio, my spirits are instantly lifted. The sounds of the season are almost certainly accompanied along with the sights. From the oversized ribbons and bulbs that fill every mall in America, to the cardboard box full of goodies you take down from your own attic, twinkling adornments abound. How about the food? It can never be too early for a slice of homemade heaven. Whether you’re enjoying your grandma’s famous pie, throwing together your mom’s knockout mac’n cheese recipe, nibbling on treats at the office, or cooking your first holiday meal on your own, what’s not to love about eating a bounty of delicious fare? But overall, the absolute best part of the season is the time spent with family and friends. The holidays for many are a chance to travel and reunite with loved ones you may not get to see any other time throughout the year. Telling stories from yesteryear and sharing laughs is worth every mile.
Christmas is my favorite holiday, so obviously there is a fair bit of bias here. However, there were a few years that weren’t quite as jolly for me. The snowballing sights and sounds of yuletide were like a dark cloud approaching too quickly, and I ran to take cover. I had to fight to get my joy back ever since my sister’s diagnosis of cancer in December 2008, rapid decline, and subsequent death February 2009. After her passing, I just wanted the holidays to come and go as quickly as possible.
My sister’s home was usually my family’s holiday destination, therefore, so many things I associate with this time of year I also associate with her. For so long, I avoided going back home and doing all of the things that made our Christmas “ours.” But then I think back to all the times we spent together; talking on the phone coordinating travel and gifts, fighting the crowds to do our last minute shopping, or the time she brought home a 20 foot Christmas tree and how the kids and adults alike were in complete awe.
Though things can never stay the same (our children won’t always believe in Santa Claus and we don’t always get to keep the people we cherish forever) it is possible to keep the whimsy and nostalgia of the Christmas alive. That’s the real joy of the season, after all; the happy memories. The ones we have made and the ones we are making each day.
And yea, a big part of the holidays is of course the presents. I know parking at stores this time of year is near impossible, the malls and post offices are uncomfortably packed to capacity, and there will always be people who focus more on the getting rather than the gifting. But there are so many others who know that there is pure bliss to be found in searching for something special for all your someone specials no matter how big or small, costly or inexpensive. Just something that says, I’m thinking about you, you are important to me, and I like making you happy. That, after all, is priceless.
This time of year is and will always be magical to me, and if that makes me a robot, then wind me up and let me go. I, for one, am so ready for Christmas.
MD Marcus is a freelance writer and poet who loves keys, the color blue, and a good nude illusion. Her work has appeared on Salon as well as in Rat’s Ass Review, Communicators League, Ariel Chart, The Literary Nest, among others. Co-author of the poetry collection, forgavein, her forthcoming memoir, The Superior Act of Presenting Your Teeth to Strangers, will be published 2021.