It’s November 23, 2014. In Brooklyn, New York, it’s getting colder as we inch closer to Winter. The leaves are still falling, but the snow isn’t. Nor is there any snow on the ground. But if you listen closely, you can hear a disturbing sound.
It’s thirty-two days until Christmas, and the grocery stores are already playing Christmas music. The streets are already decorated, and Starbucks has all the ornaments and “Holiday Flavors” out in full swing. It’s a week before American Thanksgiving.
This is Christmasmania.
Let’s look at Christmasmania for a moment. We’ve started celebrating a holiday that comes once a year thirty-two days before it’s arrived. We’ll likely celebrate it for a week after the day, too. That’s almost forty days of Christmas, every year. Let’s look at this another way.
Conservatively, let’s say we spend one month per year in Christmasmania. One month per year is one twelfth of a year. Let’s pretend we live in a land of Christmasmania where instead of spending one month of the year, one twelfth of a year devoted to the “holiday spirit”, we instead spent two hours (2/24 hours = 1/12 of a day) of every single day of the year in Christmasmania.
Every single day, between the hours of 6 and 8 PM, families don their yuletide sweaters, pour each other cups of eggnog, and listen to a few hours of Christmas carols. They’ll spend a few minutes shopping for that perfect gift, they’ll spend a few minutes wrapping it, and they’ll keep it under the tree for half an hour or so. The kids will watch Youtube clips of Rudolf and how the Grinch Stole Christmas. And maybe if they’re good, the kids will get to open a present before being sent off to bed, to have visions of sugarplums dance in their heads.
Two hours of Christmasmania. Every day.
Here’s the really insidious thing about Christmasmania. It’s not that the decorations go up during Halloween. It’s not that Starbucks has eggnog flavoured napkins before Remembrance and Veterans’ Day. It’s not that the same garbage Christmas songs are recycled and re-recorded by the pop-royalty-du-jour and pumped out of every shopping centre speaker before Americans even have a chance to be thankful. It’s not the over commercialized nature of “finding the perfect gift for that special someone.”
No, what’s really insidious about Christmasmania is how self-perpetuating and reinforcing it is. For the Christmasmania virus to survive, it must take control of its host, but not kill its host.
Christmasmania, also known as “the Holiday Spirit,” requires its hosts to keep one another in line. Every single of the numerous Christmas movies (of which Christmasmania dictates we watch at least a few) has at least one social outcast, the “grinch”, who simply does not like Christmas. We are taught to despise this grinch, to pity this grinch, and to rehabilitate the grinch so that he or she can see the “true meaning of Christmas” and get into the “Holiday Spirit.” “If you don’t like Christmas,” the mania tells us, “there’s something wrong with you, because nothing can be wrong with Christmas. Do you like giving?” Don’t you like shopping?
I think Christmas can be a wonderful celebration, a special time to be close with your family and loved ones you might otherwise not get throughout the rest of the year, and that’s a great thing. But the problem is when we as a whole are programmed and forced to buy in to the mania that surrounds it, the celebration becomes lost in a morass of stop-motion candy-cane flavoured Bing Crosby songs. So this Christmas remember your loved ones. They’re the real present.