This Christmas season, to me, has been stuck on fast forward. I can't believe we're already ten days away from Christmas Day, that we're already half way through December, that I've been done with school for about three weeks and I'll already be back in another three months - it's all very strange to me, but then again, I shouldn't be surprised considering the past few years of my life (save for the summer) have zipped by my eyes in a flash. I can already flashback to Boxing Day of last year, disheartened by the thought of Christmas being a full year away, yet here I sit today, facing my family's Christmas tree and distanced from the day only by ten sleeps. (I feel like a kid, counting time with 'sleeps') If you're familiar at all with my post from last year about my thoughts on Christmas, you might recall my somewhat lukewarm feelings to the holiday. I consistently feel like a Grinch or a Scrooge whenever I lament about my indifference to Christmas, especially when juxtaposed against friends or other people I encounter who are absolutely gaga over the holiday, listening to holiday music endlessly and existing as giddy as when they were children in anticipation for Christmas morning. I need to make it clear: I don't hate Christmas, oh no; in fact, it's sometimes quite the opposite. I do like Christmas, but I don't love it.
It's tough to explain. I feel that Christmas, to me, is largely centralized on the build up to the holiday rather than the day itself. Even as a kid, I've found Christmas Day to be anticlimactic, and the feeling has only become stronger and more aware now that I'm mature. It's the (pessimistic) truth: I'm far more excited with the idea of Christmas than Christmas itself. My excitement is based entirely in the commercials, the decorations in every corner of everywhere you visit, the thought of presents being exchanged between good friends and family and from Santa. When I say Christmas Day is anticlimactic to me, I mean this: yes, gifts are exchanged and family is together (and, in my case, I'm with my best friend at the movie theaters upholding our tradition of picking a movie and seeing it late Christmas night), but Christmas is quite literally over around two or three in the afternoon for me. Here's a quick rundown of my Christmas day traditions: my sister and I wake up early in the morning (you'd think we're still children) and force my parents awake and tear open the few gifts we have; then, around noon, my mom's side of the family comes over; after pestering once again from my sister and I, we open the rest of the gifts from grandparents and my aunts and uncle, and then.. well, Christmas is over. You may say that my statement is based entirely on the consumerist outlook on Christmas considering my definition of the holiday concludes the moment the last gifts are had. Allow me to continue: after the gifts are opened, all traces of what makes the day signified as "Christmas" is gone; instead, it becomes merely a family gathering which is to inevitably end in some sort of argument, and as I said, once they're all out the door at night I find myself at Famous Players watching an awful musical or a horrible Reese Witherspoon romantic comedy. (for the sake of interest: two years ago we saw Nine and last year was the suicide-inducing How Do You Know; this year, fingers crossed the theaters gets the Kate Winslet Oscar-bait movie Carnage) Christmas, aside from the gifts, is really over. Yeah, yeah, the real spirit of Christmas is togetherness and communal love and blah blah blah. I've ever experienced that. Again, you may say that I base my definition of Christmas entirely on the consumerism of gifts, and, honestly, there's no use in arguing otherwise: yes, I care quite a lot about the presents I receive (and give - I'm not a brat), and there's nothing much to the holiday aside from that. Returning to the idea of the holiday being anticlimactic, I mean that in a matter of minutes, the entire "Christmas spirit" collapses to a sudden conclusion. Weeks upon weeks of anticipation and holiday music and decorations lose meaning immediately, and I personally can't help but always feel deflated on Christmas Day once everything 'officially' winds down. My parents usually take the tree down the day after Christmas, once again adding to the quick conclusion to a very, very drawn out anticipated holiday. The anticipation never quite matches the day itself.
In all honesty, I'm not one for the Christmas music or movies or television specials - even though I've stated that they are what makes Christmas an exciting holiday for me. I suppose, then, it's an overall combination of the "Christmas spirit" that proves to be intoxicating: I hate Christmas music, but when coupled with seeing decorations and lights strung up on houses illuminating the streets and Santa Claus perched in the mall it's difficult to avoid subjecting yourself to the excitement of the season. It's as if Christmas is a force, and not a singular holiday: the day itself is largely mediocre, and it's in the force of the holiday, what with the music and decorations and excitement and gift purchasing and wrapping and gingerbread houses and cookies that the holiday becomes the staple of the year with respect to cheer and excitement. I then return to the idea that sometimes I'm like Scrooge and Christmas isn't overly exciting to me some years (last year certainly; this year, not so much): it's because I really despise Christmas music, and I grow to hate the stupid Christmas commercials I see on endless loop on TV. Then again, my hateful feelings are somewhat dashed when I look up to see the Christmas tree in my family room or the stockings hanging on the mantle or the idea of my Macbook sitting in a wrapped box beneath the tree awaiting for my eager hands Christmas morning. Goddamnit, I want that Macbook.
It's undeniable that Christmas is almost entirely based on consumerism. (don't worry, I'm not about to launch into some cynical rant about the injustice of this) As I previously said, I define my Christmas excitement by the commercials - consumerism - and the decorations - consumerism - and the gifts - consumerism - and.. you get the idea. In fact, I've proven this point already by failing to mention until now that Christmas actually is a Catholic holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus. I'm not overly religious so I've never treated the day as a religious holiday; it's always been about the gifts, as it has been for everyone when they were younger. Even if I were interested in diverting my intense stock into the material side of the holiday, it would be impossible to do so, considering my parents are literally Grinches and go through the motions of the holiday - this holiday, to them, being only and entirely about the gifts. My parents only buy me and my sister one 'big' gift; an iPod or a new phone or a new gaming system (when that happens it's a combined gift) or what have you. When they struggle to find that one gift, Christmas becomes hell: I dislike this aspect of my family's Christmas, considering that when I tell my mom there isn't anything 'big' that I need she gets angry, and then I refuse to ask for something expensive and unnecessary for the sake of it. It's sticky, and I wish Christmas wasn't like that for my family. I feel like this might be one of the most scatterbrained posts I've yet written, because I feel like I'm arguing one aspect and then flipping to the other side - specifically, what makes me think this now, the fact that I've made it somewhat clear I value the material side of Christmas (the gifts) rather heavily yet my least favourite part about Christmas is the gift from my parents. I feel as though, in some way, my investment in the holiday as a consumerist one might stem from the fact that my parents have always made it entirely about the gifts, both being barely religious and always out to please their children.
Apologies for the scatterbrained post. There's nothing cohesive to my writing, and as I said already, I'm fully aware that I've probably played my own devil's advocate and proved the opposite to what I was saying. In fact, I don't even know what I was meaning to say: I started off by saying that Christmas is meh to me, yet I've effectively both made it clear that I hate everything about Christmas while I love everything about Christmas at the same time. Who knows, really. Maybe you've just been blessed with my thought process, considering what goes on in my mind is always as confusing and jumbled as what I've just written. Maybe I'm drunk.*