The Case for Christmas

As a kid, I often fell ill the day after Christmas. The adrenaline of weeks—okay months—of excitement wore off, leaving me with a severe case of post-holiday flu. Lately I’ve noticed a new epidemic: pre-holiday flu.

“Christmas commercials, already?! Please!”
“How can Target sell holiday stuff? It was just Halloween!”
Translation: BAH HUMBUG.

I get it. If you’ve said such things, you probably hate the consumerism involved, not necessarily the holiday itself. But it’s not like figgy pudding is being forced down our throats. No one is dragging us blindfolded to red-and-green sales. And since when was commercial watching obligatory? (And seriously. Don’t Christmasy commercials beat belching frogs, miraculous dish grease removal and people texting each other hands down in coolness???)

As a potential remedy for the pre-Christmas grumpy phenomenon, I felt it necessary to share a few of its perks. (If this displeases you, please click the little ‘x’ in the top corner of this window and visit GrinchesRUs.)

Giving & Receiving. Christmas isn’t just a day, but a season meant for giving—regardless of our spiritual beliefs. Such giving need not correlate with pricey electronics, clothes or jewelry. We can give handmade cards, baked goods, poems, stories or the best gifts: our time, helpfulness and company. And getting these gifts is almost as fun as giving them.

Acting Like Kids. I had the opportunity to “be Santa for a day” on behalf of the USA network a few years back. (View clips from my Santa experience here.)  I can’t tell you how many adults turned into little kids with sparks in their eyes as they shared their wish lists or received a surprise gift. (And no, it had nothing to do with my short dress or gender. Pffft!) We’re grownups with grownup responsibilities all year long. May as well embrace every opportunity to de-mature ourselves and get giddy.

Stories & Imagination. Writers in particular should embrace the imagination, stories and magical nature of Christmas. A stout, bearded man visits every child on the planet to fulfill his or her wish. (But look out if you’re naughty…) Ghosts of Christmas past/present/future, flying reindeer, a man’s ability to shrink down and slither down narrow chimneys, a far off land filled with hard-working elves and, a woman birthing the world’s savior… It’s sci-fi, thriller, mystery, fantasy and, depending on your beliefs, historical fiction or nonfiction, all rolled into one.

Anticipation. Having something to look forward to rocks. It’s vital for happiness, according to Gretchen Rubin, the best-selling author of The Happiness Project. If the holiday sort of snuck up on us, we would miss out on all the fun involved with decorating, pondering gifts for loved ones, holiday tunes, the smell of pine needles, and so on. If you don’t have reasons to anticipate the upcoming holidays, seek them. 

The Importance of Savoring: A friend of mine had a huge wedding and said she was so stressed during the preparation that she forgot to savor the journey. The same could be said about the weeks and months leading up to the publication of our books… The journey can be half the fun, if not more. Best we make the most of it, stay mindful of its advantages and let it linger.

The holiday season is what we make of it. You’re creative… Make this one bright.

What do you think? Are you a grinch who clenches up at anything-Christmas? Do you think Christmas fervor goes on too long? Or do you embrace it?

Leave a comment

36 Comments

  1. I love it all, even though I don’t celebrate the way I did the first half of my life. Now I celebrate Chanukah with my kids, hubbie and his family, but still I love the entire holiday season–the songs, the movies, the spirit of it all. Plus my family still celebrates Christmas the usual way so I get to tag along with that too. 🙂

    Reply
    • Love that you celebrate both holidays…and that your traditions have evolved with changes in your life. Establishing new traditions can be as fabulous, if not more, than sticking with the same.

      Reply
  2. Marc Schuster

     /  November 14, 2011

    Interesting. I’m usually of the “Christmas commercials already?” mindset. But I can definitely see your point, so I’ll give savoring the season a try. What’s the worst that can happen?

    Reply
  3. I embrace it. I’ve had problems in the past because I love the fall season and Thanksgiving and felt it sort of got shoved aside for Chirtmas. But now I’ve decided I can savor both. I have fall decorations up and I’m starting to put up some Christmas ones as well. This weekend our church begins advent, which is our time to reflect on the journey of Christmas. I figure I can give thanks, count my blessings, and share the spirit of Chritmas all at the same time. And thank you for the reminder that the journey to getting published should be cherished as well:)

    Reply
  4. Glad to hear that, Marc. If you end up somewhat converted, I hope you’ll share details. 😉

    Reply
  5. Shannon Esposito

     /  November 14, 2011

    Great post! My husband channels Chevy Chase every Christmas so I can’t help but get in the spirit. I have struggled the past few years with finding meaning in it…beyond the giving, spending time with family. I want to create a family tradition for my kids that means something to me. Still working on that 🙂

    Reply
  6. I LOVE the holiday season! Every year my house explodes with Christmas cheer. Yeah, I don’t really get the holiday stuff in the stores before Halloween, but it doesn’t bother me to the point of grinchiness.

    Ahhhh, I’m so excited I get to watch Elf in just a few weeks. And Rudolph, and Santa Claus is coming to town. Geez, there are so many things to be excited about with the holidays. The only thing I don’t really look forward to is the cookie decorating. I don’t know why, but it drives me nuts. Hours and hours of rolling, baking, decorating and no one really likes sugar cookies in my house, so why do we do it? Tradition, I guess.

    I keep trying to instate a new tradition, like ‘Hey kids! Santa really wants some decadent chocolate truffles this year. He’s tired of sugar cookies.’ Yeah, it never flies with the kids. Darn it.

    Reply
    • Yay! Thanks for your enthusiasm, Tameri. Makes my Christmas-fairy wings flutter.

      Your cookie decorating dilemma makes me laugh. (Sorry, I’m sure it’s frustrating. ;)) Have you tried other kinds of cookies? My family makes a huge variety, many of which don’t require rolling or decorating…They’re lots more festive than truffles. Let me know if you want recipes!

      Reply
  7. Kathleen

     /  November 14, 2011

    I love the holidays. I’m a secret Christmas music lover, between Thanksgiving and Christmas it’s so much fun, almost like a guilty pleasure when I’m driving 🙂

    Reply
    • Just for that, I’m sending you an original tune to add to your collection. 😉 Keep an eye out for an itunes gift!

      Hope we all rock out to holiday tunes rather than text, phone-chat or grumble while driving this year… Sounds like you have your priorities in check!

      Reply
  8. I love Christmas…it’s my favorite holiday. Best of all for the past few years I’ve had grandchildren and that’s the best. I spoil them all rotten. I love the music (not the stuff in the mall but otherwise). I finish my shopping and then spend a few hours at the mall on christmas eve, watching people shopping and enjoying my freedom. oh and maybe there’s a bit of smug superiority as well.

    Reply
  9. My favorite part of the holiday is spending it with the family. We’ve eliminated the stress of shopping and focus on sharing our love of the season with those around us.

    Reply
  10. lynnkelleyauthor

     /  November 14, 2011

    I love this post. I agree about the gift giving and all the different ways we can give, not just by buying things. And what a great point about the stories and imagination. Leave it to a writer to point that out! Good going!

    Reply
    • Thanks, Lynn! I find creative gifts, whether handmade or in the form of gestures, to be the most gratifying to give and receive. May your holidays be bright!

      Reply
  11. I clicked the x, went to Grinches R Us, but I found even the anti-Christmasness of the site too Christmasy so I came back.

    Yeah… you’re right. We should savor the moment and enjoy Christmas and all that, but I just don’t like tinsel or wreaths or climbing up ladders to decorate things like roofs. There’s too much work to do for Xmas and I’m over it.

    Okay, enough whining, at least there’s eggnog.

    Reply
    • Ha! Seems you have Grinch flu extremusitis–the worst strain.

      No need to like tinsel, wreaths or climbing. What do you find festive and joyous? For some people, quiet time with a good book makes for the best holiday time.

      Make your own traditions and try not to knock others.’ Grumpy-grinchiness only adds more stress, weakening your holiday immune system further… 😉

      Reply
  12. Thanks for another great topic! There is so much to enjoy about the Christmas season that for me it can never start soon enough. Well, except that several of my neighbors began putting lights up on there houses this weekend prompting my children demand I put our up now. One of the biggest days for the kids is when we go to a Christmas tree farm and you pick the tree you want. There is nothing like the smell of Christmas in the house!

    Reply
    • Thanks, Tim! I’m afraid I never grew out of that childlike desperation to start all things ‘now…’

      Love the fact that you’re excited by the season. And you’re so right—Christmas aromas can’t be beat!

      Reply
  13. LOL @ Joe – Grinch here too! But in all honesty, it’s like you said – it’s really the exceswive consumerism and emphasis on *things* that I hate. And the stress of finding gifts for family members who don’t need anything and buy themselves what they want. But I love it when I think of something they’ll enjoy! The holidays also are great in that they make me remember how blessed I am to have family nearby, and everyone gets along.

    Reply
  14. Glad you’ve found a way to focus on the bright side, Jennette. The commercial/consumerism can’t get us down if we refuse to buy into it. (No pun intended. ;)) I find that people who seem to have it all, “things” wise in particular appreciate handmade gifts, cards and other thoughtful gestures.

    If you feel stressed or frustrated at any point, perhaps you and Joe should commiserate…??? Otherwise, we merry ones are here for you!

    Reply
  15. The Yuletide Festival (Christmas) has always been my favorite. I love to knit things for everybody on my list, and I love getting handmade gifts. May the joy and generosity of the coming season fill your hearts every day.

    Bess, Pru

    Reply
  16. Thanks for the reminder August – Christmas is a season to remember and enjoy everything we have been blesse with. I dont usually shop much in department stores but I do a lot of on line shopping and, even though the gifts aren’t for me, I love getting the packages in the mail and wrapping them up all pretty to give to others.

    And my favorite thing is the Christmas music. I have over 50 Christmas cd’s and I love every one of them! I sing along at the top of my voice and revel in how it feels to sing again.

    I bake and do cross-stitch and other silly little crafty thing around this time of year and love the smells of baking cookies and gingerbread in the house. The small little things bring the biggest joy

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

    Reply
    • I couldn’t agree with you more on the fun of online shopping. And wow—over 50 Christmas CDs?! Impressive!

      Small things do bring the greatest joy, Patricia. May your season be chock full of ’em. 😉

      Reply
  17. Ohhhh, this is wonderful! It hit me as I was walking to my car this morning that it is time for me to pull out “Love, Actually” and watch it — it’s one of my favorite Christmas films, aside from old classics like “The Bishop’s Wife” and “Miracle on 34th Street.”

    I always loved Christmas as a kid, but it means more to me now that I live away from my family. Winter break is the time when my younger sister (who’s an undergrad in college) and I get to go home, spend time with our parents, extended family, and friends. There’s something so wonderful about the vibe in the house — it’s warm and cozy, it smells like tasty food, and there’s this cheer in the air that I can’t get enough of. I get a little Scrooge-like about the commodification and consumption that gets associated with Christmas, but aside from that, I embrace the holidays whole-heartedly.

    Reply
    • Aw…The movies! “Love, Actually” and “Miracle on 34th St.” are two of my favorites as well. I’ll have to check out “Bishop’s Wife.”

      You hit a valuable point. I live away from most of my family, too. Christmas is the one time most of us are together. (It saddens me when people complain about their “lame relatives.” I realize I lucked out with mine, but if it’s THAT bad, we can choose and create our own families—if not for the entire season, then part of it. Anyway… ;))

      Glad you can see past the materialism to the great parts!

      Reply
  18. I am on the side of “Love’s Christmas.” But I don’t care for it showing up in the stores too early. I feel it lessens the holiday just a little for me. Today my daughter straightened up her entire room and told me she did it just for Christmas. LOL We’ll see if she can keep it clean that long.

    We have a tradition of making special ornaments every year that depict something the kids were into heavily that year. The kids will make something for everyone in the family. We don’t buy gifts anymore. That’s not what the season is about. Except for the kids, of course.

    I have a Santa collection coming out my ears! I had to tell everyone to STOP buying me Santa’s. I have no place to put them anymore. And we have multiple trees. That’s right, multiple. There’s my tree that is decorated in mementos picked up from all our special trips through the years, the kids tree and then miniature trees in each of their rooms. Because one would never be enough!

    Personally, I don’t want to start hearing the music and commercials until Thanksgiving weekend. By then it’s okay.

    Reply
    • Love the idea of creating ornaments that reflect something personal from the year, Debra! Your ornament box must hold a truck load of special memories.

      Good thing we have DVDs, itunes, CDs and books as alternatives to music and commercials if they indeed seem bothersome. As my mom says, “One person’s junk is another’s treasure.” 😉

      As for trees, I say the more the merrier! I hope you’ll post photos of your decorating extravaganza… Sounds like a treat.

      Reply
  19. Catherine Johnson

     /  November 16, 2011

    Lovely post! I love that the park is lit up already with Christmas scenes to walk passed but not so much the commercial side already. Having said that as an ex-pat I have to be super-organised for Christmas to get things to Uk in time and yesterday had to write some cards already and send them (long story). I love the fantasy element of Christmas, it’s so cute seeing the kids get excited. And I hope I can manage to bake something edible and Christmasy too 🙂

    Reply
  20. Some years I have more holiday spirit than others, and this year is a more kind of year! I love Christmas. One spirit drainer is the actual shopping for gifts. I like buying gifts for people, but I am terrified of the crowds, noise and chaos of malls in December. So I shop early and often online. It really helps me keep that Christmas glow!

    Reply
    • I hear you, Jill. I much prefer online and non-peak store hour shopping. It’s important to recognize how we function best… So glad you’re having a “more” year!

      Reply
  21. Thanks, Catherine! The walk-by Christmas scenes are fun indeed. The capital’s tree started in LA this year, so a throng of us gathered around and signed it before its journey across the country.

    Let me know if you need any simple recipes. (Edible and tasty, I promise! ;))

    Reply
  22. Hi August. I’m a minor grinch, I love Christmas but some of the songs grate on me. As you say, there’s always the off button.

    You’re right when you say the “Importance of Savoring.” I’ve raced through far too much of my life just getting things done and out of the way. I found parenting is a good way to put that in perspective!

    Have a good weekend, and a HAPPY CHRISTMAS! (and I the first??)

    Cheers

    Reply
    • I think you’ve undone your grinch-iness… You are indeed my first Happy Christmas greeter! Thanks, Nigel. Wishing you a savory holiday season filled with non-cheesy tunes. 😉

      Reply
  1. HALT! Your Craft Goes There « August McLaughlin's Blog

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