Thought Catalog

I Hate Everything About Christmas Except Christmas

  • 0

It is late November and soon large inflatable Christmas decorations will rise from the frozen suburban earth like mushrooms after heavy rain. I don’t know their story, I don’t want to Google the history of contemporary holiday kitsch. That kind of research should be categorized as unethical. The FBI should track interest in this subject as part of a broader national security effort, an undercover sting operation seeking out those responsible for disseminating the trade secrets that make the construction of these offending items possible. That’s a Law and Order I would watch, in marathon form, while I nod off into a lovely first-world food coma.

I would imagine these criminal masterminds also have something to do with the incessant rotation of Christmas pop music over retail store sound systems, and are, by way of Hammurabi’s code, entitled to having their ears ripped off for every time I am forced to endure “All I Want For Christmas Is You.”

I have often been accused of being a “humbug” which makes absolutely no sense. A humbug isn’t someone who hates Christmas, it’s just a word that means, more or less, “bullsh-t” that was said frequently by a fictional character who happened to really hate Christmas. Who the hell hates Christmas? I just hate how everyone else celebrates it, and every time I open my mouth I’m accused of being behind some kind of Grinch-like terrorist communist plot against the holidays.

I like Christmas. I love my family, my friends, exchanging thoughtful gifts with the people I care about the most. I love home-cooked holiday meals and the warm familiarity of tradition. Setting up the tree, reclining into piles of wrapping paper, watching an endless loop of A Christmas Story, the delicate understanding established between myself and my parents when I joined the ranks of those who knew what was up with Santa Claus while my younger siblings still did not — these things matter to me, very deeply. They are mine, my own ways of remembering and celebrating what is important in my life.

But what it is about this annual rediscovery of sentiment and appreciation for the things we love that leads people to divert their energies into constructing elaborate light displays and transforming their lawns into a cartoonish nightmare landscapes? What could compel a house, such as the one down the street from me, with peeling paint and rusted-out frames of ancient automobiles littering the property, to spend hundreds of dollars on lights and inflatable Christmas decorations and the electricity bills to support them? What drives a society to line up outside malls in the bitter cold of an early morning, chasing sales, in the vain hope of saving $100 on a TV?

Maybe it’s just what Christmas is, to a lot of people, lights and awful music, spending money on things they don’t need, getting stuffed with enough good food and material possessions to grease the wheels for another year and make life bearable. Sometimes, I think that as Americans, we have found the holiday spirit we deserve, a glorification of excess in every form. That’s what it means to be one of us — if you’re going to to do it, do it big. The founding fathers worried that it would be impossible to make democracy work over such a huge place, but with a few compromises here and there and some questionable legal maneuvers, things have more or less worked out. We sacrifice our principles for a greater purpose, maybe the greatest — our own satisfaction. Nothing stands in our way, even ourselves.

However hard I may grimace at the consumerism and demoralizing lack of taste that are inseparable from the Christmas season, my cynical urges melt away in the face of what’s underneath them. Honestly, what the hell do I know? I’m not those people, and I can’t say what it is that inspires others, let alone judge them for it. There could be just as much warmth and tradition in those god-awful, gaudy decoration displays. Maybe you waiting in line on Black Friday is not a parable for the parasitic, dehumanizing nature of capitalism and its destruction of our most hallowed institutions. Maybe your radio station is set to one of those all-day, all-night Christmas music loops, and you look forward to the feeling that comes along with it every year, to connect you with some distant memory.

It could be that you think of the others who used to help set up the lights, or taught you how to as a child, the ones who you used to sing along with to those songs. You think of the people who are no longer with you, and suddenly these mundane things that appear to others as frivolous or superficial are beyond criticism, because they are you, the rituals that made you, what keeps you whole when thinking of what you’ve lost. That would really shut up a cynical humbug bastard like me. In fact, it already has. TC mark

image – Lindsey Turner

More from Thought Catalog

Thought Catalog Videos


    • RPC3

      Loved how you wrapped things up (no pun intended).

    • zlady6

      Finally, someone who understands me!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1189235641 Crysta Icore

      One of the best articles I’ve read in a long time.  And yeah.. maybe it shut me up too.  I still however want to kick over a few inflated santas from time to time.  Good points and great article. 

    • guest

      finally someone understands!

    • guest

      finally someone understands!

    • guest

      finally someone understands!

    • Guest

      Shame it didn’t shut you up seven paragraphs sooner–that rant was so full of poorly qualified judgment and hypocrisy. It seems you realized it by the end, but then why bother submitting it at all then?

      Dumb.

      • Gtenishia

        Wtf? Shut-up

      • Vicky

        haha, you’re such a scroogey cunt. i didn’t realize rants had to be submitted to the judgment elders and pass the certified board of quality wizards before it could be submitted to an public online blog.

    • http://dirtyyoungmen.wordpress.com Maxwell Chance

      I totally hate everything about Christmas except Christmas too. But I’m Jewish… what’s your excuse?

    • bones

      you americans- your “brand” of christianity is always linked to some sort of excess. in all sorts of ways. your society is imploding and the occupy wall st. is just a symptom. you have need of extricating the god out of your constitution. then, maybe, you really can be the inclusive society you boast about. and that’s why your christmas is hollow.

      • elizabeth

        careful, sir. you’re generalizing and coming to rather uniformed conclusions.

        • bones

          sir!  have you thrown down the gauntlet? have i insulted your sensibilities? shall it be pistols at dawn and swords on the heath at sunrise?

        • elizabeth

          no, (although I do happen to be an american christian who celebrates christmas) but if you want anyone to listen to you, that approach probably won’t work. Unless, of course, you are looking for a fight :P 

    • Lazrocks

      bah humbug to all the above

    • Sbalfourlynn

      you should try working in a store already playing christmas music. you have to hear it once or twice on a shopping trip, we have to hear “all I want for christmas” every half an hour for 6 hours straight

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jamie-White/1515213443 Jamie White

        I can top that: The Jackson 5 version of “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”. Every. Half. HOUR. For an eight hour shift.

        If you want to understand my pain and yet have been lucky enough never to hear this shrill, atonal monstrosity masquerading as a bit of holiday cheer, feel free to Google it up.

        Otherwise, do yourself a favor and DON’T listen to it. Just trust me: it’s awful.

      • Anonymous

        i’ve been there, holiday season ’06. that may have been what ruined it for me.

      • MJ

        haha, actually I was in a store yesterday for like two hours and heard “Let It Snow” played four different times. I remember thinking, “ah, this is what they were talking about!” Maybe I just don’t go shopping enough to appreciate the awfulness.

    • http://regressada.wordpress.com MJ

      hmm. I guess I don’t get annoyed with that stuff, mostly becuase I assume that the horrible blow-up santas are in front of the houses with owners that have really bad taste in decorating anyway, and likewise the christmas-music-on-repeat was a manager’s poor attempt at marketing. And anyone I’ve ever talked to has gone Black Friday shopping for the novelty of pitching tents in parking lots or because they are incurable extraverts. Although I have heard horror stories about people getting trampled to death….

    • Anonymous

      phlpn.es/829r8s

    blog comments powered by Disqus