Monday, December 24, 2007

Bah Humbug

Dear reader, you have stumbled across my annual holiday blog. In years past, this has been a post poking fun at the exhausting experience of dealing with the mall during this season. This post will not have the exaggeration and exasperation that was evident in those previous posts. Some people talk about having the Christmas spirit. That dear reader is what this post will be about.

Unfortunately, we are bombarded with Christmas images for about a whole month before Christmas actually arrives. As a Jew growing up in New Orleans (Metairie mostly), I imagine my experience was not that different than most. We celebrated Chanukah , but it was not as all encompassing as Christmas. I thought Christmas was more a part of New Orleans because of the Catholic culture of the Crescent City. I now know that this presumption was mostly incorrect.

Certainly, we can all remember the lights on Al Copeland’s house, or the residential blocks that compete with each other for the best Christmas light displays. There were a few streets in Kenner that were very impressive when I was a child. I can also say that New Orleanians’ love affair with food was infused in the festivities. All of that being said, these are memorable, but relatively small things.

Honestly, Christmas imagery is overwhelming everywhere in this country. As I type this Cassie, my daughter is watching Noggin. Almost, every program has been about Christmas. Every time I’ve entered a store recently, I’ve gotten bombarded with Christmas music. The music in the malls is loud enough to be heard by people in Georgia or Cuba. Maybe the mall managers are just trying to spread the “Spirit”. Or maybe they have stock in Miracle Ear. I’ve never really liked the Christmas holiday season. Even as a child it was not exactly the best time of year for me.

I would imagine as a 4th or 5th grader some of this might have been because I felt somewhat excluded. For whatever reason, I internalized the imagery of Norman Rockwell Americana from a very young age. I didn’t want to celebrate Christmas as much as I wanted the family harmony that seemed to come with Christmas. I’ve sense learned that this harmony is not an uncommon desire. For most people, this holiday season does not bring the harmony and happiness that the American media sells to us. Whether, it is an image of a serviceman surprising his family with a return home for the holidays, {A coffee ad} or Winchester playing secret Santa for Korean orphans (MASH}, there always seemed to be a happy ending. Unfortunately, for many Americans that happy ending does not necessarily come true.

O.K. not everyone is happy during Christmas. This is not exactly big news, right? The networks almost always put together a big story about this. Are the homeless people that live in our country supposed to be magically happier at this time of year? Does the materialism of the season give them a warm feeling as they see people leaving stores with huge bags of presents? Are the poor children I work with supposed to get the Christmas spirit when they continually here about this toy or that new gadget, that they know they won’t get? Are the foster kids supposed to get the Christmas spirit when their vacation most likely spent with family they don’t like, or better yet don’t like them. What is news to me is that those same news outlets consider the stress of the season is news at all.

People all over this country have to fight crowds to keep up with the Jones’. They have to buy things for people that they don’t know well, and are pressured to buy other things that no one needs. People, who are barely making ends meet, are pressured to buy gifts that put them in debt for quite a while.

Most of you know all of this already. The anger and resentment of the season is not mine as an individual, but is felt by most of us. What I am proposing is radical and different. Do your best to avoid the spirit of the season, do your best to be nice to others, and think of them first. Let me tell you, this suggestion is much easier to suggest than to follow.

1 Comments:

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