I hate to break it to you guys, but we’re getting old.
Not bitter-against-the-world old, but aging nonetheless. Most of us are 18- to 24-year-olds now, and that means we have witnessed 18 to 24 Christmases.
That’s 18 to 24 family gatherings around a big pine tree opening bad presents that will be quickly forgotten in a few weeks.
Christmas is a unique time of year, open to each family’s interpretation. Some families have a special dinner every year. Some have Christmas morning traditions that are set in stone. But no matter how you celebrate this glorious holiday, there are certain aspects to the Christmas season that are repeated every year.
And now that we are tiptoeing toward adulthood, we are old and wise enough to recognize the phases of Christmas time.
This first of the Christmas cycle phases is cynical. Every year – after Halloween but right before Thanksgiving – stores start setting up their holiday displays, Christmas music is played and those tacky Coca-Cola commercials begin to air.
Also around this time of year, the grumblings start to occur, most notably the standard “Christmas gets earlier and earlier every year.”
We start thinking either two things: “When I am that old I won’t be so grumpy” or “They’re right.”
Every neighborhood has the overly ambitious homeowner that sticks it to his neighbors by decorating in October. Or, in a more undesirable predicament, they never took down their decorations from the previous year.
After Thanksgiving comes phase two. There is the realization by many Christians that there are other holidays as well. Then we have those awkward but cute, “Happy Chrismukkah” signs.
Fearing some sort of anti-Christmas backlash, many clueless citizens decide to simply lump Kwanza, Ramadan, Hanukkah
and Christmas together in some mega-holiday that threatens to take over the last 90 days of every year.
Soon, we no longer have distinct months, but just day after day, TV special after TV special of holidays.
Eventually, there is someone in a retail outlet somewhere who wishes someone else a “Happy Holidays.” That upsets some very uptight people – especially Christians. They ask, “What ever happened to Merry Christmas?” Is Christmas not good enough to be its own holiday? Soon Bill O’Reilly is screaming about a “War on Christmas” as nativity scenes are being torn down.
There are angry protests and yelling talking heads on TV who ironically want their holiday of peace and acceptance to be No. 1 – separation of church and state be damned. Yet despite this “war,” Christmas comes back every year stronger than ever.
As Christmas draws nearer, the worst in all of us comes out in the final phase. We have to buy that special present in an ever-narrowing amount of time. Housewives begin jousting for Tickle Me Elmos and nerds fight over Playstations.
Every other commercial is about some toy that a child must have. If you are in a relationship, you will find yourself sitting with your significant other when one of those diamond commercials comes on.
Eventually the grumpy musings can be heard: “Christmas is so commercialized.”
But after you want to tear your hair out from all of the insanity, Christmas finally arrives. All the madness is at an end. No more scrambling for gifts or angry family gatherings. It’s just you and the peaceful Christmas morning. It’s been that way for years now.
This Christmas, let’s try not to fall victim to advertising, gifts, or grumpy family members. Let’s relax and enjoy Christmas for what it was meant to be: love, sharing and no more final exams.
Sean Blanda can be reached at email@example.com.