So who’s started Christmas shopping yet? The buying season seems to have calmed down some after its unusually stressful start on Black Friday, when some stores decided to open on Thanksgiving day itself (what a poor way to start the holiday season.)
As soon as Christmas preparations become stressful, the cynics emerge, declaring that we shouldn’t celebrate Christmas or we need to change the way we celebrate because it’s too much trouble, and/or Christmas has become too corrupted to do us any good anymore.
I dislike defending Christmas. It makes me feel dumb. After all, anyone who criticizes Christmas is usually making logic based arguments about ending a culture of greed, saving money, and generally being more responsible. Meanwhile any counter-arguments, no matter how well thought-out, somehow always sound like they are defending consumerism, the status quo, and cartoon reindeer. I feel like I’m on the more childish/less intellectual side of things.
Then, around last Christmas, something occurred to me: the real reason why I defend Christmas and all its inconvenient customs. It’s actually good that the holidays are demanding. Because the demands they put on our time and money aren’t just brought on by Christmas. They’re brought on by having people in our lives. We should be making time to get together with friends and families. We should give things away to make others feel appreciated. But imagine if there were never any occasions that required us to do these things. Most of us would put it off and never get around to it if we didn’t have a holiday deadline (I know I would).
Instead of seeing holidays as bullies who shake you down for your time and money, try seeing them as stern parental figures who remind you that you should be making an effort to go visit your brother and bring him something.
These thoughts probably won’t make your prep work any easier, but they might make your next trip to the mall a little easier to stomach.