Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Season

So it's Christmas Eve again, and I was out and around for part of the day, and, as one might expect, there was a lot of last-minute Christmas-gift shopping going on.

The Christmas season in the United States is derided every year, by a wide variety of people, for being overly commercial, crass, materialistic, et cetera. And those criticisms come from far and wide. One social media post showed people and shoving for flat-screen televisions, and commented about how people were better behaved in the United Kingdom. They were displeased with me when I pointed out that the photo they used was not taken in the United States, but was from a Black Friday sale in the United Kingdom last year.

And I won't leave myself out of this. I've been dubious about Black Friday, and other parts of the holiday season, not the least of which being the fact that it seems to begin the day after Halloween - when it doesn't start on the 5th of July.

But Christmas and birthdays are the two times of year during which most of us give gifts to the people in our lives. And Christmas is the prime time to travel to spend time with family and/or friends in places distant from our own homes. And so it takes on a meaning that it really can't contain and that it wasn't intended to have. And I'll admit that I'm bad about this myself. My parents became Jehova's Witnesses when I was an adult, and they, generally don't celebrate most common holidays. My father was livid the time I'd forgotten, and wished my mother a Happy Birthday. With the common days that I'd usually thought about buying or doing something for my parents being off-limits, my gifts to them dropped dramatically. And when I did think to buy a gift for them, it tended to sit around in my apartment until it seemed safe to send it - and I remembered to do so.

Christmas bears the weight of our need to do things for the people in our lives, and that, in part is what contributes to the atmosphere that it's taken on. Maybe if we spread that need out throughout the rest of the year, Christmas would seem less crazy.

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