The other day I walked out of a class in University Hall and found myself face-to-face with holiday lights on the trees by the Arch. It reminded me why I hate this time of year.
Wait, Christian, how can you possibly say that? Isn’t this the most WONDERFUL time of the year??
Easy there, quickly incensed hypothetical reader. First of all, it’s not "the most wonderful time of the year." Not yet, not by a longshot. Today is Nov. 20. Christmas is Dec. 25. So calm the EFF down, everyone.
I might be coming off as a bit Scrooge-y here, but trust me, I love Christmas as much as the next guy. Check my byline if you don’t believe me. When Christmas time comes, there’s no one more eager to pull out the old decorations and start blasting Sufjan Stevens than I. That's why I'm angry; I love Christmas and I hate how diluted it's becoming.
The best part about Christmas is its atmosphere, which is inescapable no matter what religion you ascribe to. Whether you're Jewish or atheist or Bokonist, you can’t escape the street corner Santas or department store holiday trees. Plus, considering that the early Church consciously decided Jesus was born in December to entice pagans who were already acclimated to winter solstice celebrations, Christmas is almost entirely a secular celebration.
That Christmas atmosphere is special because it only comes once a year, and only lasts for a few weeks at a time. That way you get to treasure the gingerbread cookie baking, tree decorating and early-hour shopping as much as possible. After all, a thing’s value is very closely related to its uniqueness. It’s difficult to make memories of special experiences when those experiences are happening nonstop for two full months.
Alas, most people these days have either forgotten that fact or have never seen the Fairly Oddparents Christmas special, and treat Christmas like it’s as long as one of Northwestern’s quarters instead of a singular day of love and presents. The consumer affairs blog Consumerist has already written several times this year about various stores beginning their Christmas decorations and deals as early as October or even (good God) September. I for one almost puked the other day when I saw that Northwestern had already put up holiday lights on the trees by the Arch. I know that’s probably just University personnel taking advantage of the last nice weather to work outside before December ushers in wintry breezes, but it just doesn’t feel right.
One of the worst things about this overextended Christmas season is that Thanksgiving is totally getting shafted. Now, if you’re a little kid, you probably don’t give a flying poop about Thanksgiving, because there are no presents and fancy food is stupid. But Thanksgiving is basically the patron holiday of college students. For someone like me, whose diet this quarter has consisted mostly of bagels and fruit snacks, the chance to come back home, hang out with the family and eat gargantuan dinners of delicious, home-cooked food warms the soul. Yes, the Pilgrims were kind of awful and the crimes committed against Native Americans are unconscionable, but Thanksgiving isn’t really about sucking Christopher Columbus’s historical dick, anyway. It’s about watching football, eating food and hanging out with people you haven’t seen in months as autumn (the best season, as I’m sure we can all agree) gives its last gasp of awesomeness. Ideally, we should use Thanksgiving to refresh our minds and spend the couple of vacation days sleeping in and relaxing.
But of course we don’t. A bunch of people wake up barely six hours after Thanksgiving dinner to rush to go wait in line at Target for a half-priced giant TV that they might not even end up getting. Add some clowns and the feeling that someone you can’t see is chasing you to Black Friday and you’d end up with the circle of Hell that’s waiting for me when I die. So this overeager Christmas spirit ends up turning Thanksgiving, which should be a sacred day for malnourished college students, into Hell.
However, it shouldn’t be longer than it has to be, and we shouldn’t have to sacrifice the myriad joys of Thanksgiving to it.
Also, if I still haven’t convinced you of anything, just take a look at this Twitter feed:
no— Is it Christmas? (@IsitChrristmas) November 20, 2012