Sunday, December 25, 2011

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

It really isn't the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.  And I believe that solstice holidays were invented to cheer people up at this depressing time of year.  Unfortunately, they are so hyped nowadays that they have the reverse effect - making people even more depressed!

It's Christmas, and you are supposed to be happy.  Not just content, but, according to the media, having the equivalent of 200 orgasms all at once.  Christmas is supposed to be like that - plus the Fourth of July and V-E day thrown in.  And it if it ain't like that for you, well then there's something wrong with you, buddy!

Because, as Fox News constantly reminds us, there is nothing - nothing - wrong with Christmas and donchooforgetit!

But the reality is this:  The winter solstice, with its shorter and shorter days, is a very depressing time of year.  Lack of light can cause depression.  Cold weather is no fun, without enough snow to ski on.  December, without Christmas, sucks.  And that is why, I think our ancestors came up with Solstice-based holidays - to cheer up an otherwise dreary time of year.

But of course, in the thousands of years since the first Druid dragged a shub into his hovel and decorated it, we have taken it all a little too far.  And Christmas can no longer live up to the hype.  And as a result, people get depressed.

Relax.  There is nothing wrong with you.  You are perfectly normal.  It is just the weirdest time of year.

And for many folks, it can be doubly stressful for a number of reasons.  For example, Mark's Mother died when he was age 13, right before Christmas.  In a snowbound house in rural Maine (Note to self: never live there!) she had a heart attack.  And since the local ambulance couldn't make it, they had to sit there and watch her die.

And yea, that sort of thing messes with your head.  Christmas is a mixed blessing for folks like that.  And given the number of holiday parties this time of year, it is not surprising that many folks lose loved ones to drunk drivers and the like.  So this time of year has emotional baggage for many people, and the contrast of personal tragedy with the Disney-On-Steroids promotional aspect of the holiday can be jarring.  Everyone is Happy! Happy! Happy! - except of course, you.

Others may have bad memories about Christmas due to the nature of their families.  We are all told - in fact ordered - to go see our families at the holidays.  And we are all told we will have a Norman Rockwell moment with them.  But for many folks, it is anything but.  Families are very odd, and many parents, siblings, or other relatives choose the holidays to use as a platform to run down their children or make them miserable.  The "Airing of the Grievances" is not just a Festivus event.

For others, the problems with Christmas can be more prosaic.  For most of us, it simply does not live up to the hype.  It is an OK holiday, and you have fun.  But once you've gotten than shiny new bike at age 8, it is all downhill from there.  And after 50 repetitions of the holiday, it gets boring.

And that's OK and not to be unexpected.  If you have kids or grandkids, your enthusiasm may be rekindled, briefly.

But if Christmas doesn't seem to be living up to the hype, well, relax!  There is nothing wrong with you, but rather the merchandising media army that has been hyping the holiday since early November.  Every story, every song, every tradition has hammered into your head, over and over again, how freaking happy you are supposed to be.   There is no way any holiday can possibly live up to this level of hype!

And that is why I think we need to unplug from Christmas a bit - it is time to De-Militarize Christmas, and let it go back to its original, religious roots, and also take its rightful place as a minor Christian holiday, and not the biggest secular holiday of the year.

Maybe then, Christmas can be a time of joy and good cheer, and not crowded shopping malls and airports, harried shoppers and unfulfilled expectations.

But in the meantime, don't sweat it.  Go see a movie and get some take-out Chinese.   And look forward to longer days, more sunlight, and Spring.