I know, what’s not to like about Christmas? Actually, I’ve developed several annoyances regarding this upcoming time of the year.
1) Generic and Unmentionable Holiday
This is by far the worst offender. I can understand the point of referring to a “holiday season” which can encompass everything from Halloween to Presidents’ Day, but when referring to one specific day as “holiday” strikes me as the worst kind of intellectual cowardice. Simply saying the word “Christmas” does not make one Christian and does not in any way acknowledge Christ. When I see commercials or advertisements or movies that specifically refer to Christmas themes but cover with the “holiday” word, I can't help but wonder if those behind it have ever seriously given this any critical thought. I hate when I go to a store that is decorated with Christmas decorations (lights and trees really don’t fit with Hanukkah or any other celebration this time of year) and I’m told by the cashier to “Have a nice holiday”, I often respond with “You too. You have a wonderful generic and unmentionable holiday yourself.” I’m not trying to be a jerk; I'm just trying to get people to think in the only way I can.
Don't think this whole "holiday" thing is purely secular. My church is going to put on a "Holiday" program involving the children. My wife asked if we should involve our boys in it. I wanted to respond "Only if they call it what it really is." I think it has to be a bad thing when a church reflexively refers to Christmas activities with generic unmentionable holiday terminology.
To be fair, it's possible that this could be a local thing. I notice in this region that during every holiday, people will say "Have a nice holiday." If I go to visit my dad in San Antonio, I'll hear "Merry Christmas" and "Happy Easter" and "Happy Thanksgiving" rather than "Have a nice holiday". It could entirely be that I live in New Jersey, a state that I can't speak of negatively enough even though it has somehow become my permanent home.
2) Christmas Music
97.5 FM in Philadelphia started playing Christmas music the first week in November. I'm already sick of it. Let's face it, the collective artistic talent of mankind is not focusing one bit on improving the polluted gene pool that has become our reservoir of Christmas music.To top things off, I'm pretty much burned out on everything BUT Trans-Siberian Orchestra. There are a lot of Christmas songs that I simply can't stand, and even if I once did like them, I've heard them way too many times in 34 years to tolerate them any longer. Most Christmas songs are not very good. The singing and the melodies are horrible, or the words are just plain stupid. "Have a Holly, Jolly Christmas". Hey, did that guy have a literature degree from Yale or anything? Wow, seems like "Don't Worry, Be Happy" had more intellect behind it than "Have a holly, jolly Christmas". "Rocking Around the Christmas Tree" is another song that I really don't like. The music starts out with an electric synthesizer that sounds like a small animal dying, then that woman with the raspy voice starts singing. I change the station or listen to music on my iPod when those start playing. I've heard "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire" too many times and I can't take it any longer either. It's way too monotone for me. I lived in San Antonio for 7 years and spent the first several Christmases of my adult life going back there on leave, so don't get me started on "Feliz Navidad".
Every now and again, somebody actually does come out with a new Christmas song, but it goes into the rotation of limited selection and grows old fast. In 2000, the song "Christmas Shoes" was thought provoking and tear jerking. Now, it gets the station switched as fast as "Have a Holly, Jolly Christmas".
Believe it or not, I do like some of the classic or traditional Christmas music. Of course, those happen to be the songs that don't get played very often.
I have little use for Frosty and Rudolf and Santa is coming, but I do remember enjoying them as a child so I try to put up with them for my own kids, but I will change the radio station if I can at all get away with it.
To all artists and musicians, I appeal to you: please, write some new Christmas music. If the record labels are stopping you, then release it as indies. We'll find a way to get you the publicity that you deserve. If you have a new, Indy Christmas song, please send it to me and I'll share it with my readers (I must have at least 2). Just make it Christmas. There is a song that's been playing recently called "Happy Holidays". That's like writing a doxology to atheism. Seriously, it's a song about nothing. At least it's a little upbeat, rather than the monotonous "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire".
3) Traffic and Poor Planning
We know that Christmas is on December 25 every single year, and has been for every single year in recent memory. There are people, every year, who apparently as I'm getting ready to leave work on Christmas Eve, suddenly look at the calendar and say "Oh, crap! Tomorrow is Christmas! I have 800 people to buy for!" Then they proceed to take out a second mortgage and pile onto the highway right in front of me as I'm trying to get home from work to my family.
I married a woman who is good at planning for Christmas. It's November 14, and she's already done. She has me, the kids, her parents, and our extended family taken care of. She even has presents wrapped. She'll go out on Black Friday if there are some good deals, but we won't be stuck in traffic or crammed into the malls the last few weeks before Christmas. We also won't be thousands of dollars deep in credit card debt like a lot of you come January. We're done, and we did it out of pocket. I'm thinking about getting my wife a new laptop for Christmas (I don't think she reads my blog) and I won't have to go into debt for it either. I have time to research and find a deal if I go that route.
It's become a staple of the news to go to the mall the last few days before Christmas, and rather than actually report on anything that's going on in the world, they interview the people who looked at the calendar on Dec 23 and said "Doh! Christmas is coming!"
4) Christmas is Coming...
I've hated this one since I was a kid. There's a difference between a want and a need. Somehow after August, when I mention to my wife that I need a certain item, I'll hear "Well, Christmas is coming." Seriously, I'm a grown man (at least, by most definitions). If I mention in September that I NEED something, chances are that waiting until Christmas is not desirable. Just let me get what I need and I'll tell you what I WANT for Christmas.
Of course, I realize that Christmas is not about me. This blog, however, is. Have a merry Christmas, a happy Thanksgiving, or have wonderful generic, unmentionable holidays, whichever you prefer.