Saturday, December 08, 2007

What is The Reason For The Season?

My childhood memories of Christmas are much different than the holiday that is celebrated now. It was about getting together and sharing. I remember carolers coming around and everyone standing in their doorway to listen to them. People baked cookies, gave them hot drinks and waited for an encore. I always wanted to do that but it had already started to fall out of fashion by the time I was eleven. We still caroled, but we were carted around on the back of a flatbed truck that was covered with hay. Nobody worried about insurance issues and nobody fell off the truck.

Nowadays I can't remember all the words, they've just become jingles that you hear in the background of tv shows and movies, nobody sings the whole song anymore. Rudolph is all right, but Hark the Herald Angels Sing could really rock if you had enough people and somehow We Three Kings of Orient Are became We Four Beatles From Liverpool Are. We were so innocent back then.

I miss the cookies and the warmth. I miss hanging out with people who were excited and happy about the holidays, where you went to people's homes and enjoyed their hospitality and learned about their traditions and they came to your house. The world actually felt more peaceful for a few weeks. It was awesome.

Now, it's nonstop commercialism. It starts slowly at first, just a few decorations start to appear, a few holiday looking serving dishes show up in the store and then by Halloween, bam! full steam ahead. Anything that can be sold has a commercial, there is no other explanation for the chia pet and its many incarnations.

Advertisers resort to subtle and not so subtle exhortations to buy something for everybody you know or have some type of contact with so you won't feel guilty for forgetting someone who might buy you a gift. By the time they get around to advertising diamonds during sports events, it's become a nonstop lollapalooza, a frenetic shopping extravaganza. And there are still the buy a car and put a ribbon around it so they know you love them commercials to suffer through. Like the people who can afford to buy a Jaguar are watching television.

Once Christmas became the season that retailers made their profit for the year, that was when it became the war on Christmas. The battle shouldn't be about whether one should say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays (both are appropriate), it should be about what happened to the sentiment that used to accompany it. Goodwill toward man and all that. A time to celebrate with family, friends and great food, to create memories filled with smiles, laughter and warm moments.

Not fighting for parking spaces or the last "got to have" item on the shelf. And it certainly isn't about how much money you spent.