Ok, folks, it is that time of year again. This is the eight week period where we get to hear Fox News shill Bill O’ Reilly whine and moan about department stores that greet customers with ‘Happy Holidays’ instead of ‘Merry Christmas’. Once again, we can expect Mr. O’ Reilly to act as if citizens of a country bogged down in three quagmires (Afghanistan, Iraq and its own housing market) have nothing more important to debate than which phrase merchants use to describe the month of December.
Not only does O’ Reilly focus on the trivial in this annual jihad of his, he is also dead wrong. O’ Reilly’s complaint that merchants that use the more secular “Happy Holidays” are being ‘politically correct’ has no basis in reality. Christmas was not originally about Christianity or Jesus Christ. Christmas is today’s incarnation of the Solstice celebration which started long before Christianity spread throughout Europe. The Christmas tree, the mistletoe, giving gifts- all of these rituals were originally Pagan. It was only in the 3rd Century A.D. that a clever pope decided to declare that Christ was born on December 25th. To this day, the purest of Gospel readers refuse to celebrate Christmas as Jesus’ birthday.
But personally, I have no objection to anyone who believes in the religiosity of Christmas. “To each his own”, I say. Also, I have made my peace with the commercialization of Christmas that has been bemoaned by many for eons. Those who don’t want to spend all their days at the shopping malls, I suggest you buy a gift card for your loved ones and then move on.
What really bugs me about the holiday season is its length. It is no longer a one day event. Nor is it a one week event. It’s not even a one month event. Nowadays, “Happy Holidays” begins the day after Halloween. November 1st is when most stores start clearing out the things people really need to buy and substitute an assortment of trees, snowmen and Santa Clause dolls on their shelves. In Atlanta, there is even a radio station that plays nonstop Christmas carols for the six weeks leading up to December 25th. Instead of a ‘special day’, Christmas has become a ‘special two months’.
In my opinion, this is not only overkill; it is also highly counterproductive for anyone who wants the Holidays to mean anything special. Frankly, ve I am not the only one who feels burnt out by the time December 25th rolls around. On Christmas Day, this writer feels like smashing any radio that plays the Little Drummer Boy. Yet, no matter what one does, one cannot escape Christmas/Happy Holidays bombardment beginning November 1. And thus, I personally find it hard to not feel Holiday burnout by the time the actual event rolls around.
This year, 2008, I have resolved to find a way to escape such Scrooge-inciting overkill. My mother has been diagnosed with a recurrence of her cancer, and my family does not know how many more holiday seasons we will celebrate with her. Our hopes and our prayers are that she still has many more, yet our family must treat every Holiday as special. And my young daughter is now old enough to understand the term ‘Santa Claus’. In fact, this will be her first real Holiday season. So my wife and I must work to make this very special for her.
This leaves me in a bit of a dilemma. How do I block out all the Holiday hype until the season the time is right for it to begin for me? I have meditated on this and have come up with a few ideas.
First, I have resolved not to turn on the radio, except for NPR News. Instead, I will plug in my MP3 player and listen to everything and anything except holiday music. Actually, I will not only refuse to listen to holiday tunes, but I will put on the raunchiest heavy metal I can get my hands on.
Secondly, I will avoid shopping malls and stores at all costs. And when I must enter to buy something, I will block out in my mind’s eye anything that has even a faint hue of green, red or white in it.
Third, when I turn on the T.V., I will use my DVD player to play only horror and suspense flicks. Absolutely nothing overly-sentimental or schmaltzy may appear on my family’s tube until the time is right. Oh, except for those kids specials, which I will let our daughter watch whilst I artfully exit the room. But definitely, It’s a Wonderful Life will be prohibited in my household for most of December.
Finally, I have resolved not to watch any Fox News this winter, lest I hear that windbag O’Reilly yammering away about trivialities while the world burns. That should be the easiest part of my plan. After all, except to laugh at the creative, partisan fiction pumped out by Rupert Murdoch’s boys on a daily basis, there really is no reason to watch Fox News anyway.
So to all my friends, family and acquaintances, Happy ‘whatever you’d like to call it’, and I’ll see you on December 25. Until then, you will catch me with my earphones on jamming to Judas Priest or the Grateful Dead or watching a good David Lynch movie. And enjoying every minute of it.