I'm not really sure why I am a bah-humbug about the winter holidays, but I do have some hypotheses. For a while, I thought that I was just bitter because my Christmas budget was smaller than other peoples. I remember going back to school after the holiday break and hearing the fanciful stories of Christmas loot. Some kids got trampolines or TV's or gaming consoles, coach bags, and Seven for All Mankind jeans. My Christmas's were not nearly as fanciful, and sometimes I would make up stories about presents that I had "received." Just like my dad was "away on business" when I had sleepovers. Looking back on these Christmas's, I am grateful that my mom did not spoil me rotten. I learned the value of hard work and while I was materialistic for a long time (and still am, a little) at least I worked for my fancy things and really appreciate them. So, I don't think my residual feelings of inadequacy from elementary school or high school are what contribute to me being a bah-humbug.
I do have some nice Christmas memories. My mom took me into Manhattan to see Macy's Santa Land and we went to see the tree in Rockefeller Center and the Christmas windows on 5th Ave every year. I loved this tradition, even if it did leave me with a life long fear of elevators after being suffocated in the overcrowded direct lifts to Santa Land. And, we drove to Florida to see my grandparents almost every year. I literally went to Disney World just about every December for 14 years. As a child, I knew my way around The Magic Kingdom like it was the 4th of July Carnival at the local Volunteer Fire Station. I had some amazing Christmas gifts that I will never forget, like my American Girl Doll. I do have some awful memories, too, like the year we went to my father's house for Christmas and he took us to his in-laws, where my brother and I were ignored and neglected all day. But in general, my Christmas's were mostly pleasant and fun-filled.
So why do I feel a deep annoyance whenever this time of year rolls around? I hate walking into a store and being blasted by Christmas music. I hate driving down my street and seeing Christmas lights. I hate those stupid blow-up dolls people put on their front yards. I hate the expectation of giving and receiving gifts. It all drives me crazy. I think that deep down, the thing that really angers me is the assumption that everybody in America is so, so happy to max out their credit cards and consume like crazy. Not everybody loves Christmas and a huge portion of the country doesn't even celebrate the holiday! When Jamie told me that our neighborhood was having a Christmas Decoration Contest, I felt really compelled to buy a Menorah and put it in our window. Now that would be unexpected! I was raised Christian and I still feel affronted by the Christmas takeover of the world every December. I am really not sure how it feels to be raised in another faith tradition and be drowned in Christmas every year, but I would suspect that others may be even more annoyed than I am. Despite my ranting, I don't see the overpowering, exaggerated, and pompous parading of Christmas merchandise and decoration dwindling in the years to come. I suppose I will go on sneering at Christmas decorations and dreading Christmas shopping and worrying about my checking account.
Although the Christmas hull-a-balloo disgusts me, I am looking forward to spending the holiday with my in-laws in Virginia. Jamie's family is so warm and inviting and fun to be around that I enjoy any time spent with them, even if I do have to endure holiday flying. There is a certain feeling of wholesomeness, acceptance, and love that accompany the holidays with the Brisbins, which I think is what all the decorations and gifts and lights are hopelessly trying to create in the Wal-Marts and Shopping Malls. It happens naturally at their house and I wish for everyone that future Christmas delight can be created organically and that eventually we will no longer be subjected to the trashy tinsel and candy canes. I know it is a big wish, but I think that if we examine our values, anyone can have the best Christmas ever. Here's to the best Christmas ever (if only I could initiate it by popping my neighbor's singing-waving-light up-inflated Santa and reindeer)!
These are my only Christmas decorations...